Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives hot sauce its heat, could play a role in the future of weight loss.
The new research comes from Brigham and Women's Hospital. Ali Tavakkoli, MD, BWH Department of Surgery, and his team investigated whether two surgeries called vagal de-afferentation, which uses capsaicin, the component responsible for the chili pepper's burning sensation, and vagatomy can achieve weight loss and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases with fewer side effects when compared to bariatric surgery.
Vagotomy involves removing the vagus nerve, which sends information between the gut and the brain. Vagal de-afferentation also involves the vagus nerve. But rather than removing the nerve completely, surgeons use capsaicin to destroy only certain nerve fibers.
The researchers found that vagotomy significantly reduced total body fat, as well as visceral abdominal fat -- the "beer belly" fat that pads the spaces between abdominal organs. Vagal de-afferentation also reduced these fats, but to a lesser degree. However, according to the researchers, the reduction is still remarkable.
"The reduction in visceral fat is particularly important," said Tavakkoli. "High visceral fat volume is a marker of obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes. Preferentially lost visceral fat after vagal de-afferentation highlights the potential for this procedure."
Read more from Brigham and Women's Hospital.