Health & Wellbeing

Fat-trapping clay may form part of a treatment for obesity

Fat-trapping clay may form par...
Grains of arcillite clay, which is a calcined form of the montmorillonite used in the study
Grains of arcillite clay, which is a calcined form of the montmorillonite used in the study
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Grains of arcillite clay, which is a calcined form of the montmorillonite used in the study
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Grains of arcillite clay, which is a calcined form of the montmorillonite used in the study

While dieting and exercise certainly help people to lose weight, there are some cases where those approaches just aren't enough on their own. There could now be a new source of hope, however, as scientists have discovered that clay may cause ingested fat to pass right through the body.

University of South Australia PhD candidate Tahnee Dening made the initial discovery, when she was investigating the ability of clay particles to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs in lab animals. What she found was that although the particles weren't breaking down to release a payload of medication, they were attracting and then soaking up fat droplets.

"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," she says. "It's this unique behaviour that immediately signalled we could be onto something significant – potentially a cure for obesity."

Dening and colleagues proceeded to conduct an experiment in which four groups of lab rats were put on a high-fat diet. One group was also fed dried particles of natural montmorillonite clay, the second group received synthetic laponite clay, the third batch were given a leading weight-loss drug known as orlistat, and the fourth group served as a control, receiving nothing other than the high-fat food.

After two weeks, the two groups of clay-eating rats and the orlistat-taking rats had all lost weight, with the animals that consumed the clay actually losing a bit more. Additionally, the rats from the clay groups exhibited no side effects. By contrast, because orlistat works by blocking digestive enzymes, it can cause side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea.

"What we're researching now is a synergistic approach with both the clay material and orlistat: the orlistat blocks the enzyme that digests fat molecules, and the clay particles trap these fats so they're excreted out of the body without causing gastrointestinal disturbances," says Dening. "We're essentially attacking fat digestion and absorption in two different ways and we hope this will lead to greater weight loss with fewer side effects."

It is hoped that human trials may begin soon. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal BMC Biomedical Engineering.

Source: University of South Australia

9 comments
guzmanchinky
I'm going to start human trials on myself, just ordered some montmorillonite clay...
Muzza4
The only problem with this is that ingested fat is not the cause of obesity. Now if the clay could suck up sugar, maybe that would help.
Kevon Lindenberg
guzmanchinky be cautious, record your findings, and give us an update. I'm curious to see what side effects arise. Since fat vital to your diet I would imagine there will be quite a few regardless of your current size. Good luck!
guzmanchinky
Muzza4 fat is still very high in calories. It would certainly help...
usugo
@guzmanchinky already tried, no appreciable effect. Also because, the amount of "fancy" clay used would require you to ingest 1g/kg of body weight, which is practically impossible. Anyway, it is pretty much equivalent to a Chinese study published two years ago. That is, Australians are at the bleeding edge of Chinese science, a couple of years later! https://www.nature.com/articles/srep19659
windykites
Fats away, aha aha, I like it, aha aha!
Colt12
The last several years I have been wondering if the efficiency of the digestive track has anything to do with weight gain. Such as a normal weight person having a less efficient digestive track that excretes more of the nutrient rich calories instead of metabolizing it. Where as an obese person's digestive track is very efficient at metabolizing all the nutrients before excreting the remaining waste. I wonder if any research has been done on the caloric content of human waste, normal weight vs obese.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The idea behind fat is that it is satiating and doesn't produce a crash. If you stuff a rat or a human with fat they will consume a lot of calories and get fat.
ljaques
Give it a try, Guz, but their study was done with BOTH the clay and the orlistat. Hopefully, Ben Coxworth will update the news with your findings in 6 months. Did you order the calcined form of monty?