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Say 'Aaah' | Capsules

Folic Acid May Help Seniors

May 24, 1999|THOMAS H. MAUGH III

Bupropion, a drug approved to treat depression and help people quit smoking, may also be useful in weight loss, Duke researchers reported Tuesday at a Washington meeting of the American Psychiatric Assn. Results of the first eight weeks of their study showed that women who took bupropion in conjunction with a 1,600-calorie diet lost four times as much weight as those taking a placebo, said Dr. Kishore Gadde.

Unlike previous weight-loss drugs such as fenfluramine and phentermine, bupropion has no appreciable effect on the brain chemical serotonin and thus has fewer side effects. The only significant side effect was dry mouth. Bupropion works by increasing available amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals in the reward and pleasure pathways of the brain.

Women who received 200 milligrams of the drug every day said that it did not suppress their appetite but helped them feel satisfied more easily.

Drug Shows Promise for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A new drug called alosetron, trade-named Lotronex, is the first drug shown to relieve pain and discomfort caused by irritable bowel syndrome, according to results presented Tuesday at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in Orlando, Fla. IBS affects as many as one in five Americans--and three times as many women as men--but current treatments are aimed only at specific symptoms, such as anti-diarrheals for diarrhea or laxatives for constipation.

Dr. Lin Chang of the UCLA School of Medicine reported on studies of 1,273 non-constipated women at 200 clinical sites, half of whom received alosetron and half placebos. Those receiving alosetron reported significantly less bowel pain and sharply improved bowel function. The beneficial effects disappeared, however, within a week after they stopped receiving the drug.

Alosetron is thought to work by blocking serotonin 5-HT3 receptors in the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system. These receptors mediate pain perception and gastrointestinal motility.

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