A compound in your brain that behaves similarly to pot holds the secret to everyone's fantasy: being able to eat whatever you want and not exercise while staying healthy and not gaining weight.
What a world that would be! So here's hoping an experiment recently performed in mice can be easily translated to humans. But don't start binging just yet, because doing the following to people would get scientists thrown in jail: They tweaked a protein in the mice brains that tuned down levels of "endocannabinoids" in their little brains. Because endocannabinoids -- which are similar to the active ingredients in pot or cannabinoids -- regulate metabolism, limiting their function let the rodent's metabolic rates go crazy. They ate high-fat diets but stayed skinny without extra spins on the hamster wheel. They even had normal blood pressure, and no increased risk of heart disease or diabetes.
To tweak human brain chemistry, scientists would need to develop a drug that specifically targeted endocannabinoids, which is no easy task. They would have to test the drug in animals and then humans to make sure it was safe and effective and then the FDA would have to give its stamp of approval. That's super expensive (the highest estimates say up to $US2 billion!) and takes forever (around 10 years). The majority of drugs tested in animals never make it to humans at all.
Did I just burst everyone's bubble? I'm sorry. Mine's burst too if it makes you feel any better. Or on second thought maybe not. I must say I enjoy a run at the beach and good Pilates or yoga class. And exercise is a proven brain booster and depression and anxiety fighter. So maybe we should hope this pill never comes to fruition. It might just make us all super svelte neurotic messes.