natural alternatives to weight loss drugs

Natural Alternatives to Weight Loss Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy Identified by AI to Remain Secret For Now

A team of computer scientists is planning to announce the identification of two potentially viable natural alternatives to weight loss drugs, Ozepic and Wegovy, made from naturally occurring compounds. Currently identified as “Compound A” and “Compound B,” the mystery extracts, which were identified using the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools, will remain secret until the researchers obtain patents on their formulations.

The discovery of the natural alternatives to weight loss drugs will be part of a presentation made by the scientists at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2024), which will be held in Venice between the 12th and 15th of May. After that, the scientists say they plan to use their soon-to-be-patented compounds as a potential basis for creating natural weight loss medications.

No Good Natural Alternatives to Weight Loss Drugs

While science has tried for centuries to find a medicinal cure for obesity, nearly all efforts have ultimately failed. Most simply didn’t work, while the few that held temporary promise resulted in serious health consequences that ultimately eliminated their therapeutic use.

More recently, science has found a promising course of treatment using a chemical compound known as a GLP-1 agonist. The most popular of these new drugs is actually a diabetes medication called Ozempic. That drug’s active ingredient, semaglutide, has since been approved for the treatment of obesity under the brand name Wegovy.

Unlike previously failed entries into the marketplace, Wegovy has shown tremendous successes and few failures in helping people lose weight and keep it off. The same can be said for a more recent drug, tirzepatide, which was approved for weight loss under the brand name Zepbound in December of last year.

Based on actual hormones secreted by the human body, both medications work by binding to certain receptors in the brain that regulate appetite and feelings of fullness. They also lower blood sugar and slow the movement of food through the digestive tract. Unfortunately, these compounds are extremely volatile and break down easily in the stomach. This means that patients need to inject them once a week to get the benefits.

Recent reports indicate that the two drug manufacturers behind these medications are working on similar therapies that can be taken orally. However, the approval of those options is likely still years away, if ever. Furthermore, all of these medications are synthesized in a lab, as opposed to naturally occurring substances.

Now, a team of computer scientists employing the latest AI tools and techniques says they have identified two potential natural alternatives to weight loss drugs that could replace these GLP-1 agonists by binding to the same receptors as the drugs do.

AI Finds Natural Compounds That Mimic GLP-1 Agonists

“Although the effectiveness of current GLP-1 agonists has been demonstrated, there are some side-effects associated with their use – gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and mental health changes like anxiety and irritability,” explained scientist Elena Murcia of the Structural Bioinformatics and High-Performance Computing Research Group (BIO-HPC) & Eating Disorders Research Unit, Catholic University of Murcia (UCAM), Murcia, Spain. “Recent data has also confirmed that when patients stop treatment, they regain lost weight.”

The computer scientist also noted the issues that can arise from using peptides like those used in these drugs. For example, since they can be degraded by the stomach, “they are currently more likely to be injected rather than taken orally.”

This led Murcia’s team to investigate natural alternatives to weight loss medications that could bind to GLP-1 receptors in a similar way but without the potential risks and shortcomings associated with synthetic compounds.

They initially identified two promising candidates that were already shown to bind to GLP-1  receptors, TTOAD2 and orforglipron (3,4), that were not peptides and might, therefore, survive better in the stomach. However, they note that these two compounds, which had some initial promise for treating weight loss, didn’t meet their other criteria.

“These are synthetic, and we were interested in finding natural alternatives,” Murcia explained. Instead, her team focused on plant extracts and other natural compounds “because they may have fewer side effects.”

Using state-of-the-art AI, the team was able to “virtually” sort through a library of over 10,000 compound candidates to see if any of them could successfully bind to a GLP-1 receptor. Those that showed some promise were then subjected to further AI tools to see how closely any bonds matched those made by GLP-1 agonists.

After trimming the candidate pool to the most promising 100, they were subjected to a visual analysis, which whittled the list down to a solid 65 candidates for potential drugs. Of that list, the researchers say they identified two that stood out above the rest in how closely their bonding with key residues matched that of GLP-1 drugs. They titled those compounds A and B.

Tests and Patents Could Lead to Natural Weight Loss Pill

As noted, the computer scientists have remained tight-lipped about the two target compounds, other than to say they are performing additional tests with the goal of eventually patenting their final formulas.

“Further details of the plants and the compounds are being kept confidential until patents are granted,” their press release explains.

However, they did reveal that the extracts were from common plants “which have been associated with beneficial effects on the human metabolism in the past.” They also point out that their work would not have been possible without the power of AI, which allowed them to perform work that would have taken years of laboratory experiments in a relatively short time.

“Computer-based studies such as ours have key advantages, such as reductions in costs and time, rapid analysis of large data sets, flexibility in experimental design, and the ability to identify and mitigate any ethical and safety risks before conducting experiments in the laboratory,” Murcia explains.

The researchers caution that their work is only a preliminary finding and not the final step in a weight loss treatment. However, they do believe it could indeed lead to a natural alternative to weight loss drugs that can be taken orally with fewer side effects, which is something they are already working on.

“We are in the early stages of developing new GLP-1 agonists derived from natural sources,” said Murcia. “If our AI-based calculations confirmed in vitro and then in clinical trials, we will have other therapeutic options to manage obesity.”

 Christopher Plain is a Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist and Head Science Writer at The Debrief. Follow and connect with him on X, learn about his books at, or email him directly at