The latest drugs and supplements used for weight loss. Are any worth trying?

As soon as the holiday goodies are gone, people begin to try various products to try to lose weight. Why? Because most of us gain weight over the holidays.

So, pharmacies report a run on the over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss products. However, people typically lose just 5 to 10 pounds in a year with OTC orlistat (Alli, etc), or even with prescription sibutramine (Meridia) … phentermine … or diethylpropion. And, there are new concerns about increased cardiac risk with sibutramine … possibly due to increased blood pressure and pulse.

So many people are looking for new options. Here’s a brief review of these products by the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database – an evidence-based source of information I’ve frequently recommended to you:

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG, Pregnyl, etc).

Proponents say this pregnancy hormone and fertility drug redistributes fat … decreases hunger … and improves mood in women. But there’s NO proof to these claims. Any weight loss is likely from the low-calorie diet that’s used with HCG. This diet was debunked by excellent research a long time ago. Read my blog on the HCG diet here.

Byetta (exenatide) and Symlin (pramlintide).

Diabetes patients on these prescription medications can lose 4 to 5 pounds … and sometimes much more. Now these drugs are being tested to see if they can help patients WITHOUT diabetes lose weight. But, I wouldn’t try these drugs just yet. It’s too soon to say whether it’s safe.

Thyroid hormone.

Many people are tempted to take thyroid hormone to boost their metabolism … but this isn’t safe – and can be dangerous – even life threatening. Too much can lead to heart palpitations, bone loss, heart attack, etc. I also recommend staying away from “thyroid booster” supplements that contain iodine, kelp, or animal glands.

New combos in the pipeline.

  • These contain phentermine or bupropion which are already used for weight loss … plus a second drug to try to enhance the effect.
  • Qnexa (phentermine/topiramate SR) uses topiramate to further decrease appetite …
  • Empatic (bupropion SR/zonisamide SR) adds the anticonvulsant zonisamide … and
  • Contrave (bupropion SR/naltrexone SR) will add naltrexone to decrease cravings.

Don’t jump on these bandwagons … at least until we know more.

Sensa (maltodextrin plus flavorings).

Sensa claims to trick the body into thinking it’s full … by intensifying flavor when it’s sprinkled onto food. But there’s no reliable evidence it works. For now, I’m telling patients to save their $60/month.

Unfortunately, no current supplement is a magic bullet for weight loss. But, we still have the three techniques that seem to work for most people who apply them wisely and consistently:

  • Good nutrition,
  • Good exercise, and
  • A good night’s sleep.

You can learn more about making health decisions about diet, exercise, and sleep in my books:

3 thoughts on “The latest drugs and supplements used for weight loss. Are any worth trying?

  • Jerry

    Don’t forget about lorcaserin, it was just submitted to the FDA for approval for obesity. There is also tesofensine but it is still almost a year away before even the stage 3 trials are known.

  • acussyNat

    I was just watching the news and Acai berry was mentioned as one of the best weight loss products in 2010. I was thinking about giving it a try, since the study looks very legitimate. Thoughts?

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