Big Pharma Eyes Your Stomach

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Scientists inject ghrelin (pronounced GRAY-lin) into the blood of normal weight people.  While measuring their brain activity these subjects are shown pictures of food and the ghrelin makes them drool.  Core animal pleasure is activated.  Yes, they must have it.  Stimulus-response, a modern Pavlovian dog experiment.

The press release announcing this new finding proclaims a promising new drug target, ghrelin.1  The researchers are even trying to define obesity as a brain disease.  Big Pharma is now very excited, itself drooling like a dog at all the money to be made.  It all seems so simple, knock out ghrelin and excessive appetite goes away – is this the answer everyone has been looking for?  Big Pharma will spend millions in the coming months and years to make you think it is that easy.

Ghrelin is your stomach’s hunger signal.  It talks to your subconscious brain, which also has hunger signals of its own (like Neuropeptide Y).  They often communicate back and forth to get your appetite going.

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the physical size of your stomach and in so doing reduces the ability of your stomach to make ghrelin.  If all works well, appetite is lessened and weight is lost – at least for the first year or two.

Overweight people make an exaggerated level of ghrelin for too long a period of time, making them eat too much, which I explain in chapter 25 of my 2002 book, Mastering Leptin

Big Pharma’s sites are set – ghrelin.  Just like LDL cholesterol was labeled bad, ghrelin will be the next “evil” that is driving the obesity epidemic.  In fact, Big Pharma is even trying to make an anti-ghrelin vaccine!

I’m sorry to rain on Big Pharma’s parade, but knocking out ghrelin as a quick fix would be one of the dumbest things you would ever want to do.  Of course, destroying health has never stopped Big Pharma from making a buck, especially under the false guise of “solving” a problem.  Certainly you would like to tame ghrelin and whip it back into shape – but that is something drugs will never do.

In our body’s system of economy ghrelin is used for many things.  One of its more important duties is repair of damage, especially repair of your GI tract.  Inhibit ghrelin from working and the next time you get food poisoning you may be lucky to live to talk about the experience.  Ghrelin regulates your growth hormone, the decline of which causes muscle to be lost and replaced with fat as time goes by.  Lower growth hormone speeds up aging in a number of ways.  And that is just for starters.

Ghrelin must work right in your body for you to lose weight and keep it off.  You must not turn ghrelin off with a drug or vaccine and I sure don’t recommend surgery.  You can be master of your fate as long as you understand the nature of the problem.

Here are some important related links to help you understand why ghrelin is so important to your health and how you can manage it more effectively.

Ghrelin Elevated by Sluggish Thyroid Function

Looking Back for Answers on Stress Eating

Digestive Inflammation and Food Cravings

Your Stomach and Cardiovascular Health

Referenced Studies:

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