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Clay Material To Fight Obesity

Clay Material To Fight Obesity

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  • Clay has the property to attract and trap fat droplets in the digestive tract, which can then be removed in the stool could mean a possible cure for obesity
  • Obesity is becoming a major concern worldwide of epidemic proportions and causes a huge burden on the economy
  • Obesity is associated with serious health complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers and not many effective drugs are available

Clay materials were found to attract and soak up fat droplets in the digestive tract during a chance discovery that might bring about a possible cure for obesity. University of South Australia's research scholar and Ph.D. candidate, Tahnee Dening stumbled upon the exciting finding while working with clay materials to see if they could improve drug delivery.


"It's quite amazing really," Dening says. "I was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs, when I noticed that the clay particles weren't behaving as I'd expected. Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up. Not only were the clay materials trapping the fats within their particle structure, but they were also preventing them from being absorbed by the body, ensuring that fat simply passed through the digestive system."

Role of Clay Material and Orlistat Drug In Weight Management

  • Dening tested the effects of montmorillonite - a natural clay material, purified from dirt and laponite - a synthetic clay
  • Rats fed on a high-fat diet were administered clay formulations and weight loss effects were seen, compared with placebo and orlistat, a leading weight loss drug.
  • Over a two-week follow-up period, it was seen that both orlistat and the engineered clay formulations caused weight loss. However, the clay material was found to be superior to orlistat
The findings of the initial studies suggest that clay formulations, especially if used in combination with orlistat (with combined effects of both) could play a key role in weight management and obesity.

"Our processed clay has an unusually high surface area which means it has a huge capacity to interact with and soak up digested fats and oils present in the foods we eat," Dening says.

"Orlistat on the other hand, is an enzyme inhibitor that blocks up to 30 percent of dietary fat digestion and absorption, which leads to weight loss, but has unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea, which limits its use in weight loss as people choose to stop using it."

When clay formulations and orlistat are given in combination, both digestion as well as absorption of fat molecules is inhibited. The undigested fat molecules are trapped by clay and removed. This could result in greater weight loss with fewer side effects to the patient.

Scope of the Study and Future Plans

  • The exciting findings of the study have already interested potential investors to carry the research forward
  • Since clay material is generally considered safe and is widely used in food and nutritional supplements, human clinical trials may start soon

Current Uses of Clay in Medicine

The physical and chemical properties of clay and its minerals have made it a preferred material to prepare specific drugs. It has the property to adsorb and hold toxic substances and has been used since a long time in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. In addition, it is a cost-effective substance.

Some of the applications of clay and its minerals in medicine include the following:
  • Treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcer
  • Indigestion and bloating sensation with stomach discomfort
  • Food allergy (probably inhibits release of allergy causing mediators)
  • Antidiarrheal/laxative depending on the mineral
  • Adsorption and elimination of harmful toxins
  • Protects digestive tract mucosa against harmful effects of pesticides
  • Skin protecting agent and cosmetic preparations
  • Antibacterial property, anti-inflammatory effect and a local anesthetic
  • Maintenance of normal cellular homeostasis
  • Various drug delivery systems
In conclusion, clay already has several useful applications in medicine, including in drug delivery systems. The potential use of clay formulations as a weight loss option could well be another game changer in management of obesity.

References :
  1. The Current State of Obesity - (https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/make-a-difference-careers/obesity/)
  2. 10 facts on obesity - (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obesity/en/)

Source: Medindia

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