Brainstorming helped these two patients get over their binge eating

Brainstorming helped these two patients get over their binge eating

Electric shocks to the brain eliminated cravings in two patients with binge eating disorder for at least six months, a small study found.

The two patients were given a brain implant to remove the part of the brain associated with taste.

They said The New York Times that after surgery they made better food choices without thinking about it.

The technique needs to be tested on more patients to see if it works with certainty. But it might offer hope millions of people who struggle with binge eating.

No longer a “wanting man”

Study, published in a peer-reviewed journal Natural medicine in August, was primarily intended to test whether the device is safe to use.

But the effect on the study subjects was “really impressive and exciting,” said lead study author Casey Halpern, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine. in a press release accompanying the study.

Two patients – Robyn Baldwin, 58, and Lena Tolly, 48 – reported having fewer binges. And the implant seems to have changed their habits for the better, per Times.

For example, Baldwin said she made a habit of swinging by Ben & Jerry’s on her way to the pharmacy. But after activating the device, she said, “I could go to the pharmacy and not even think about ice cream.”

The implant even appeared to improve the women’s eating preferences.

Baldwin said she used to crave sweet foods but now prefers salty foods. Tolly occasionally found herself eating peanut butter straight from the jar. He doesn’t want it now Times reported.

“It’s not like I don’t think about food at all,” Baldwin said. “But I am no longer a person who desires.

Obesity needs innovative treatment

Both women, who are obese, said they had previously tried many ways to combat weight gain.

Both tried extreme diets and underwent bowel surgery, a procedure called bariatric surgery Times. But the weight kept coming back.

This is not unusual for people with obesity. Research indicates that obesity is a disease that it is very difficult for patients to keep the pounds off.

A growing body of research is trying to find such treatments don’t rely on willpower.

The idea of ​​targeting brain waves to combat cravings is appealing, so much so that Elon Musk recently claimed that his Neuralink brain implant could one day fight morbid obesity.

Previous research suggested that a small area of ​​the brain, the hypothalamus, sends out brain waves before someone feels a craving.

The implant used in the study learned to recognize these brain waves and switch the area with electricity to crush them, which appeared to cut cravings short.

The study followed patients for six months. No serious side effects were reported, but each patient lost more than 11 pounds, according to a news release.

One of the patients no longer met criteria for binge eating according to discharge.

More research is needed

You won’t find this implant in your doctor’s office. In just two patients, the researchers could not prove with certainty that the weight loss was caused by the implant.

For example, it is possible that there is a placebo effect from the surgery or that the effect wears off over time.

To make sure that this is not the case, scientists will try to conduct a much larger study. These typically recruit hundreds of patients and have built-in procedures for testing the placebo effect.

For now, the study is to follow Tolly and Baldwin for six months and enroll four more patients.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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