News & Opinion | July 26, 2018 10:24 am

This Human Hunger Hormone Could Curb Craving Food and Alcohol

Ghrelin might be useful for controlling the impulse to overindulge.

craft beer
(John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images

Ghrelin is the “human hunger hormone.” It’s what you can blame when your stomach grumbles or you want to order another round of fries. It signals your brain that you’re hungry and it’s time for food. New research has another idea for what the hormone can do.

A new study suggests adjusting ghrelin levels and creating a new compound might double as a potential aid for alcoholics, reports The Daily Beast. As it drives up the need to eat, ghrelin increases to a higher levels. Once you eat, those levels fall. It seems like it might also be linked to cravings for alcohol, just as it is linked to cravings for food, writes The Daily Beast.  Fatemeh Akhlaghi, a pharmacy professor at the University of Rhode Island, gave volunteers — who self-identified as alcoholics — an an experimental pharmaceutical compound that dulled ghrelin’s power. After receiving the compound, volunteers reported less craving for alcohol.

Much is unknown about how ghrelin works and Akhlaghi is interested in whether ghrelin might spark alcohol cravings in the same way it sparks food cravings.