Weight Loss Supplements & Over-the-Counter Diet Pills
Warning: May be Hazardous to Your Health
Weight loss supplements and over-the-counter diet pills are under investigation all over the country – especially in Miami and South Florida. These pills claim to produce rapid weight loss safely. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Investigators have found large amounts of prescription drugs in these products. A recent study published October 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found dangerous pharmaceutical ingredients hidden in many of these supplements. “Consumers have no way of knowing that these products contain powerful drugs that could cause serious health problems or even death,” reports the FDA. Furthermore, these ingredients can be included in doses that are dangerously high.
Dangerous Hidden Ingredients Discovered in 2018 Study
- Phenolphthalein was an ingredient in some Over-the-Counter laxative products until 1999. The FDA reclassified the drug as “not generally recognized as safe and effective” after studies indicated it presented a potential carcinogenic risk. Researchers also found it to be genotoxic, meaning it can damage or cause mutations to DNA.
- Sibutramine was an appetite suppressant and the active ingredient in the obesity drug Meridia. The FDA removed it from the market in 2010 due to cardiovascular risks. Researchers found Sibutramine in nearly 85% of the supplements tested.
- Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an SSRI antidepressant. The FDA approved this medication to treat certain mood disorders, but not for weight loss. You should not take this medication unless your doctor or psychiatrist prescribes it to you.
- Sildenafil (Viagra) found its way into 12 of the weight loss supplements. This is obviously not a weight loss supplement.
- Ephedrine (ephedra, ma huang) is an herbal stimulant that increases blood pressure. In 2004, the FDA banned ephedrine from use in dietary supplements due to its side effects.
- Fenfluramine was an appetite suppressant withdrawn from the market 1997. Scientists linked it to heart valve disease, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiac fibrosis.
Other Ingredients Found in Weight Loss Supplements Included:
- Propranolol is a beta-blocker used to treat high blood pressure.
- Bumetanide and Furosemide are powerful prescription diuretics. For that reason, one should only use them under careful medical supervision.
- Diclofenac is a prescription NSAID pain reliever.
- Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) and Fenproporex (along with other sympathomimetics and amphetamines) are addictive and dangerous. The body rapidly converts them into amphetamine. As a result, they are illegal in the US.
- Lorcaserin (Belviq) is an FDA approved weight loss medication that you should only take if a doctor has prescribed it to you.
- Phytoin is an anticonvulsant used to prevent seizures.
- Rimonabant is an anorectic appetite suppressant drug withdrawn worldwide due to serious psychiatric side effects.
You will never know if the weight loss supplements you buy contain some of these dangerous ingredients. They do not tell you. Worse than that, shady sellers and overseas suppliers often lie about the ingredients. In total, researchers found 80 of 317 adulterated weight loss supplements (25.2%) contained more than one hidden drug ingredient. Further, multiple hidden ingredients can cause harmful interactions with each other inside your body.
Products including 3x Slimming Power, Perfect Slim, Pro-Slim Plus, and Som-o-trim are some of the adulterated weight loss pills. Be suspicious of claims like “no-hunger,” “no exercise,” “fat burner,” “thermogenic weight loss,” or “metabolism booster.”
Over the Counter Diet Pills: Natural Does Not Mean Safe
What is the overweight individual to do when faced with the temptation to take these types of substances? When in doubt, three things should come to mind:
- “Natural” and “herbal” are not necessarily safe. Even substances that are generally safe are not effective for weight loss.
- You should treat any substance marketed as a “Weight Loss Supplement” with suspicion. There is NO FDA regulation of these chemicals and NO clinical data.
- Finally, other than vitamins and minerals for some alcoholics, malnourished individuals, children, and pregnant women, few people really need supplements.
The Rule for Weight Loss Supplements:
If you do not obtain them with a prescription from a licensed physician following an office evaluation, do not take them. They will not work and they can harm you.
The only safe and effective weight loss pills are FDA approved medications. Because researchers must put them through rigorous clinical trials, we know their effects on the body. In the appetite suppressant group, these include phentermine, Lomaira, diethylpropion and also phendimetrazine. Newer medications include Contrave, Belviq, and Qsymia. If you are considering these drugs, seek a physician with skill in prescribing the best medication for your situation.
The only exception is the FDA-approved fat blocker Orlistat (Alli, Xenical), which one can purchase over-the-counter. Orlistat prevents the body from metabolizing and absorbing fat. As a result, the undigested fats are eliminated in the stool. However, the side effects (flatulence, fecal urgency, oily stools, and leakage) are often more than most people want to deal with.
Partial List of Over the Counter Weight Loss Supplements that have Little Value for Weight Loss
|Supplement||Weight Loss Claim||Effectiveness||Side Effects|
|Chitosan (from exoskeleton of shellfish)||Blocks absorption of dietary fat||Probably ineffective; few well-designed studies||Uncommon: upset stomach, nausea, gas, increased stool bulk, constipation|
|Chromium (essential mineral)||Increases lean muscle mass, decreases appetite, increases calories burned||Probably ineffective||Uncommon: watery stools, headache, weakness, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, hives|
|Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (derived from dairy products and beef)||Reduces body fat||Possible modest benefit||Upset stomach, nausea, constipation, loose stools; may decrease good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol|
|Green coffee extract||Reduces absorption of sugar (glucose), increases calorie and fat metabolism||Possible modest benefit||Excessive use: anxiety, agitation, insomnia, nausea, irregular heartbeat|
|Green tea extract||Decreases fat absorption, increases calorie and fat metabolism||Possible slight benefit||Long-term use with high doses: insomnia, agitation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea; reports of liver damage|
|Guar gum (derived from Indian cluster bean)||Blocks absorption of dietary fat, increases feeling of fullness||Probably ineffective||Abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea|
|Hoodia (succulent plant)||Decreases appetite||Probably ineffective; insufficient data||Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting; possible increase in heart rate and blood pressure|