Drugs, slimming products and weight loss supplements

What are weight loss products and how do they work?
Drugs and weight loss products
Taking a weight loss medication may not be effective in itself although suppress appetite products can help an overweight person to follow a regular diet since almost all these types of supplements suppress their appetite. The feeling of satiety is connected to different biochemical processes in the body. The signals that communicate the “fullness” derive from lipid cells and from the gastrointestinal tract; these converge in the central nervous system. Appetite suppressors stimulate two key neurotransmitters: serotonin and noradrenaline. High levels of serotonin correspond to a feeling of satiety. Increasing norepinephrine levels stimulates the central nervous system and reduces appetite. Only one of all those kind of drugs to lose weight works differently. Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) acts on the gastrointestinal tract to prevent the absorption of about one third of the ingested fat.

Who is a good candidate for weight loss products?

Weight loss drugs are designed for those with a BMI (Body Mass Index) equal to or greater than 27 in which there is at least one risk factor (such as diabetes or high cholesterol), or in patients without risk factors that have BMI greater than or equal to 30. These are however guidelines, and therefore not absolute. Doctors may not prescribe the use of these drugs to patients with hypertension, heart disease, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma, as well as in people who use drugs.

Weight loss drugs

What are the different types of medicines used to lose weight?
Three types of drugs are used in weight loss therapies. A class of medicines stimulate the nervous system and reduce appetite. Sibutramine (Meridia) increases the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, favoring the feeling of satiety. Orlistat significantly reduces fat absorption in the intestine. Regardless of how these pills work, they help the patient to lose weight only if they follow a calorie-restricted diet.

What are the contraindications of weight loss drugs?

Unwanted effects of stimulant pills include pulmonary hypertension, a rare and potentially fatal condition due to high pressure in the pulmonary arteries, cardiac valve dysfunction, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth and constipation.
Side effects of sibutramine include headache, dry mouth, anorexia, constipation, insomnia, rhinorrhea and sore throat.
Orlistat pills can cause diarrhea, steatorrhea, meteorism and a reduction in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Weight loss drugs

What are the warnings in using drugs to lose weight?
Before starting any type of therapy, tell your doctor about your health conditions such as drug allergies, illnesses, medications used, and conditions such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Drugs of the amphetamine family

Since the patient can develop tolerance for this type of pills within weeks, these medicines are indicated for short-cycle therapy.
Using these drugs can also lead to addiction. Side effects seen in chronic use include irritability, personality changes, insomnia and even psychosis similar to schizophrenia. A sudden suspension could lead to severe depression.
Using a motorized vehicle or machine may be difficult when taking these medicines. These may not be prescribed for people suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, glaucoma or epilepsy.

Phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin)

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare dysfunction of pulmonary blood vessels and is potentially fatal. It was found in cases where Phentermine was used concomitantly with two other weight loss products: dexenfluramine (Redux) and fenfluramine (Pondimin). Rarely, it has been found with the only intake of phentermine. Syntomas include breathing problems, chest pains, fainting and edema.
Similarly, the use of phentermine has been associated with mitral insufficiency when it is taken in combination with dexenfluramine and fenfluramine, but this effect could be seen through the use of phentermine alone.
Those who already take other medications or have conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes should discuss with their doctor about the risks of phentermine.

Amfepramone (Tenuate)

High doses can lead to hallucinations; it is also possible to detect toxic psychosis with excessive use or even in the recommended dose.
Amfepramone may increase the risk of seizures in epileptics.

Sibutramine (Meridia)

Sibutramine can significantly increase blood pressure and / or heartbeat in some patients. For this reason, those who take Sibutramine must check these parameters regularly. The drug should be used with caution, or not used at all, in patients with previous episodes of hypertension, heart attack, heart disease or severe kidney or liver disease.
Patients with glaucoma should not take sibutramine because it causes dilatation of the pupils (Mydriasis). Sibutramine may interfere with other medicines, so it is important to talk to a doctor about current treatments before taking sibutramine.

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

Diets or high-fat meals could amplify the side effects caused by orlistat. Orlistat inhibits the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Patients should increase their intake of fat-soluble vitamins via supplements, two hours after taking the orlistat dose.
Orlistat may increase the risk of kidney stones and gallbladder. Patients taking diabetes medications, thyroid dysfunction or other medical complications should discuss with their doctor about possible interferences with other drugs before taking orlistat.

Which drugs can interfere with weight loss medicines?

Phentermine could decrease the efficacy of guanethidine.
Tenuate may interfere with medicines for blood pressure, insulin and other medicines like Clorpromazine.
Sibutramine should not be used in competition with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or in any case not within two weeks of discontinuation of these. Contradictions to this prescription could lead to a serious and potentially fatal side effect known as “serotonin syndrome”. Sibutramine can interfere with other antidepressants, narcotic painkillers, antibiotics and migraine medications. Because a common effect of sibutramine is that of increased blood pressure, patients should be monitored carefully during use with cough, cold and allergy medications that contain ingredients such as pseudoephedrine.
Orlistat may reduce levels of vitamins or medications such as cyclosporine. Patients taking both medications should separate their intake for at least two hours.

What are some of the weight loss drugs on the market?

• Fendimetrazine (Bontril)
• Amfepramone (Tenuate)
• Benzfetamine (Didrex)
• Phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin)
• Sibutramine (Meridia)
• Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

What are over-the-counter diet pills?

Only one over-the-counter diet pill was approved for weight loss: a reduced formulation of orlistat known as Alli. This works by preventing the absorption of about one third of the fat ingested. While the side effects of Alli are slightly lower than the prescription big brother (due to the lower dose), these remain unpleasant: steatorrhea, diarrhea discharges and possible accidental bowel movements if you eat too much fat while sitting down. The producer of Alli advises to follow a diet with calories derived from fat not higher than 30% of total calories, and to divide these between the three daily meals. The slimming effect of Alli: about 50% greater than just diet and exercise.

What should I know about weight loss supplements?

Many other non-prescription diet supplements are advertised as weight loss aids, but only a few have been proven to be effective. Even worse, some of the ingredients used in over-the-counter supplements could be harmful. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classifies herbal products as diet supplements. This means that they are not regulated and can be sold without having been tested for years, as is necessary for prescription drugs (and not). Remember that supplements can have side effects, and you should consult your doctor before taking any type of supplement, including over-the-counter diet pills.

Here are some common ingredients found in over-the-counter diet supplements:

Green tea extract: cases of liver problems have been reported in patients taking concentrated green tea extracts.
Hydroxycitric acid: Derived from the fruit of a tree native to South East Asia. It seems to be generally safe, even if a manufacturer has recalled their products after they have been associated with liver damage. Other problems encountered include convulsions, cardiovascular diseases, and severe muscle injuries. These products contained many other ingredients, and it is not clear what ingredients or doses have caused liver problems.
Chromium: A mineral that can be taken by diet, in particular meats, wholegrain flour products, and some vegetables and fruits. It has been associated with side effects like headaches and nausea, as well as more serious problems at higher doses.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): It is found in meats and dairy products, could cause gastric disorder.
Hoodia: Derived from an African plant native to the Kalahari desert. Hoodia products typically contain other ingredients. His safety is not yet known.

  • Chitosan: Starch derived from molluscs.
  • b>Pyruvate: Produced by the body as a result of the decomposition of carbohydrates and proteins resulting from food and is naturally found in foods such as cheese, wine and red apples.
  • b>Hypericum: Used mainly as an antidepressant, this plant can interact with many other drugs.
  • b>Aloe: Sometimes advertised as an “internal” purifier, aloe causes a strong cathartic effect in the intestine. This can lead to a loss of minerals or worse, if the patient is already suffering from intestinal problems, to ulcerative colitis.
  • b>Cascara: An effective laxative but without weight loss properties, cascara interacts with other drugs and can disrupt the body’s mineral balance.
  • b>Glucomannan: Derived from the root of a plant, it has been banned in several countries because it swells in contact with liquids and can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • b>Guarana: A natural stimulant, increases blood pressure.
  • b>Yerba mate: Often used in the form of tea, ingestion of yerba mate can cause high blood pressure and overstimulation of the central nervous system. It could also be linked to the esophagus cancer.
  • b>Guar gum: It is used in the food and pharmaceutical industries as a thickener, but when taken on its own it can swell on contact with liquids, and can lead to an obstruction.
  • b>Ephedra (ma huang): Consumers should not be able to find over-the-counter supplements containing this ingredient, as the FDA has banned their sale in 2004. The use of ephedra can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems .
Drugs and weight loss products