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article imageMagnetic brain stimulation causes weight loss

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2017 in Science
Milan - Can weight loss be achieved through the technique of magnetic brain stimulation? A recent study suggests this is possible and it works by altering the composition of the bacteria that reside in the human gut.
The research involves the use of a noninvasive electromagnetic brain stimulation technique and trials suggest it could aid obese people to lose weight. This is by altering the composition of the intestinal bacteria (the gut microbiota). The full name for the technique is ‘deep transcranial magnetic stimulation.’
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is more commonly used in neuroscience, to induce increases or decreases in excitability of large populations of neurons in deep areas of the brain. The types of applications include the treatment of major depressive disorder as an alternative to using drugs. The noninvasive nature is through an electromagnetic coil is placed onto the scalp. Once fitted magnetic pulses are sent into specific regions of the brain.
The application on the microbial population of the gut represents something different. It builds upon earlier work that has shown how the magnetic stimulation reduces food cravings and induces weight loss in obese individuals. The extension of the method was pioneered by Professor Livio Luzi from the University of Milan in Milan, Italy.
Understanding that one cause of obesity is an imbalance with gut bacteria, Professor Luzi studied if magnetic stimulation can alter the bacterial population in favor of beneficial bacteria within the digestive tract and if this leads to a reduction in obesity.
To examine this, the research group used three males and eleven women, aged between 22 to 65 years old. Each person was classified as obese (defined as having a body mass index between 30 and 45). The subjects were placed into two groups over a five week period. One group received regular treatments using the deep transcranial magnetic stimulation; whereas the other group did not receive the treatment. To assess changes in gut microorganisms the subjects provided stool samples both before and at the after the treatment. Alterations to the body in terms of physiology were assessed by measuring blood levels of glucose, insulin, pituitary gland hormones and neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine (the hormones help to regulate appetite).
It was found that those receiving the magnetic stimulation treatment lost more than 3 percent of their body weight and over 4 percent of their fat. In contrast the other group did not experiences significant weight loss. The stool samples showed that a shift in bacterial populations within the gut had occurred. The balance shifted towards microorganisms associated with anti-inflammatory properties,
The changes suggest a beneficial effect of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, although this will need to be assessed through further study.
The findings have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal. However, the results are to be presented at the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, U.S. during April, 2017.
More about brain stimulation, Weight loss, Bacteria, microbiome
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