TMS may Decrease Food Cravings and Result in Weight Loss
What if there was a treatment for weight loss that did not involve medication or surgery, but actually works in shedding pounds? Fortunately, such a treatment is currently being studied and preliminary results look very encouraging.
Promising results from a recent study from Milan, Italy support the hypothesis that deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) can curb food cravings and assist in weight loss. The study, led by head researcher Livio Luzi, M.D., professor of physiology at the University of Milan, lasted 9 weeks this year and followed 16 obese patients.
While dTMS has been FDA cleared in the U.S. for treating major depressive disorder, the technology is currently being used in Europe to treat other physical and mental health conditions, including addiction to nicotine and other substances.
According to Dr. Luzi, “The idea came to me when I heard a presentation in Europe where psychiatrists were using this technique for addiction disorders.” Dr. Luzi then extrapolated that if TMS can help with addiction disorders, it may also help with food addiction.
What is dTMS?
Deep TMS is a safe, non-invasive technology that uses magnetic pulses to the brain. The patient is fitted with a comfortable helmet that has an integrated H-coil that targets the prefrontal cortex. Using a machine that is similar to MRI technology, deep, repetitive pulses penetrate the scalp to a depth of about 6 cm. The resulting electrical currents then stimulate the part of the brain that is underactive, effectively rebalancing brain chemistry.
Sessions last about 20-30 minutes and are administrated five days per week for 4 to 6 weeks. Side effects are minimal, if any, and the patient is fully alert during the procedure. This allows the patient to immediately return to their normal daily activities following the sessions.
Deep TMS Study Results for Treating Obesity
It had been found that in an addict, the reward pathways of the brain release less dopamine than a normal person when they are presented with the substance that they are addicted to. To compensate for the lack of dopamine the addict will escalate the use of the drug to chase the high produced by the brain’s reward system. For the obese person with a food addiction, this means they will overeat.
High frequency TMS has been shown to enhance cortical excitability, versus low frequency that will suppress activity in the limbic system. Thus, for this study a high frequency of 18-Hz was utilized in the 8 patients receiving true TMS (half the group received sham treatment) during the study period.
The results supported the hypothesis of the study, demonstrating significant weight loss after five weeks of dTMS therapy sessions. All of the 16 study participants received ongoing counseling from a nutritionist and a physical trainer. Participants who received the dTMS lost 4.5 kg (about 10 pounds) and their food cravings were reduced by 34%. A month later, after continual weight loss, this group had lost a total of 3.2% of their initial weight.
Participants from the sham group did lose some weight, as a response to the counseling they had received, but by the end of the study had lost just 1.8% of their initial baseline weight, about 40% less than the dTMS group.
The research will continue, with longer study periods and larger samples planned. Also, both long-term safety studies and weight-loss maintenance will be included in future studies of dTMS and weight loss.
Achieve TMS, the Premier Provider for dTMS Services in So Cal
Achieve TMS provides safe, effective dTMS in their multiple locations across the southland. Our expert staff includes physicians, nurses, and trained technicians who have been providing dTMS therapy for many years. Contact our friendly staff for information about the services we provide at (877) 447-6503.