Prevent canker sores and obesity at the same time
SUMMARY: A drug that has been on the market for many years to treat canker sores is now being tested as a treatment for obesity.
Posted: February 11, 2013
Our mouth is a sensitive area of the body, and there are many things that can cause uncomfortable issues. From the food you eat to allergies to overall health, your mouth virtually exhibits your overall health and wellness. One of the most irritating and uncomfortable issues that may arise in your mouth is a canker sore. If you've ever had one of these mouth ulcers - and you probably have - you know that it can be challenging to eat and drink.
What are they?
Canker sores are small ulcers in the protective liner of the mouth that appear because the top layer of epithelial cells get worn away. This exposes the blood vessels, which causes you pain and discomfort. Although doctors aren't entirely sure where they come from, there are many speculations. Eating food that can puncture the inside of your mouth, allergic reactions to oral bacteria, vitamin deficiencies or gastrointestinal illnesses are all plausible causes. The one thing we do know about canker sores is that they are caused by a glitch in our immune system, which means that the body is virtually "attacking" itself.
Many people commonly wonder "are canker sores contagious?" Luckily, they are not. Unlike cold sores, they aren't caused by a bacterial or viral infection. These temporary sores tend to go away within a week or two on their own.
A recent study at the University of Michigan found that a relatively obscure drug that is used to treat canker sores may also help fight obesity. How's that for a double whammy? The study was conducted on mice that were obese. Their diets were not changed throughout the study. However, after the mice were taken off the medication, they gained weight back. There are many drugs that work on mice and not humans, but doctors are optimistic about it. The drug, amlexanox, has been on the market for 15 years. It is a paste that works as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic medication.
Dr. George Bray, chief of the Division of Clinical Obesity and Metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University believes this can greatly help the medical community because there is a strong need for an obesity drug. It can also reverse diabetes, which is great news for our mouths because diabetes and gum disease often go hand in hand.
"One of the reasons that diets are so ineffective in producing weight loss for some people is that their bodies adjust to the reduced calories by also reducing their metabolism, so that they are 'defending' their body weight," Dr. Alan Saltiel, the lead researcher at the University of Michigan told CNN. "Amlexanox seems to tweak the metabolic response to excessive calorie storage in mice."
Doctors conducting the research noted that when the drug is used as an ointment to treat canker sores, it changed the habits of the genes that control the metabolism. When it was given to the mice, it sped up the metabolism. Researchers also made sure that the weight loss wasn't due to higher energy levels, which was traced by a laser machine that tracked the animals' movement. According to the tracker, their movement remained similar.
Additional research is planned for later this year to determine if the medication is safe and healthy for humans. One of the biggest concerns is that because the mice gained all the weight back after getting off the drug, a person would need to stay on the drug indefinitely. Another issue to be tested is the drug's effect on the heart.