BWH Logo Generally people suffering from morbid obesity may have to undergo bariatric surgeries. However, an ingredient of hot sauce is now showing promise as an alternative for weight loss in obese individuals, as reported by scientists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Two kinds of surgeries were trialed by the experts. The first operation called vagal de-afferentation uses capsaicin, the substance that gives hot sauce its burning sensation. The second procedure is called vagatomy that involves partial dissection of the vagus nerve to control the acid secretion in the nerve.

“The reduction in visceral fat is particularly important. 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,” commented Ali Tavakkoli, MD, BWH Department of Surgery.

As per the outcomes, vagotomy apparently reduced the overall body size considerably. It also decreased the visceral abdominal lipid that is generally known as the beer belly fat. The vagal de-afferentation procedure led to weight loss but not as much as vagotomy. The amount of fat lost was still noticeable, say the scientists.

In Vagal de-afferentation, the vagus nerve is eliminated but in a different manner. Instead of removing the nerve completely, capsaicin is used to destroy specific nerve fibres. This substance discards the nerve fibres that transfer signals from the gut to the brain. On the other hand, the fibers that transit information from the brain to the intestine are left untouched by the ingredient.

As compared to vagotomy, Vagal de-afferentation is linked to fewer negative effects. Reported in the journal, Digestive Disease and Sciences, the findings showed promise in using this procedure as an alternative to bariatric surgeries.

However, further work needs to be done to understand if capsaicin could be administered directly onto the nerve fibers.