A team of researchers led by Dr Baskaran Thyagarajan, at the University of Vyoming in the US, has found out that a novel drug based on capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their spicy burn, causes long term weight loss and improves metabolic health in mice eating a high fat diet.
The drug, Metabocin, was designed to slowly release capsaicin throughout the day so it can exert its anti-obesity effect without producing inflammation or adverse side effects.
The team developed Metabocin, which can be taken orally, to target receptors called TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1) that are found in high numbers in fat cells.
Stimulating the TRPV1 receptors causes white fat cells to start burning energy instead of storing it, which, in theory, should cause weight loss.
According to the researchers, most of the capsaicin in spicy food is not well absorbed into the body. The team specifically modified the capsaicin in Metabocin for proper absorption and sustained release.