The Dangers of Prescription Diet Pills
There are numerous types of prescription diet pills on the market, all of them with different approaches, depending on their main ingredients. The most important are appetite suppressants and fat blockers.
These weight loss drugs act on the hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for regulating the appetite. They block the norepinephrine and serotonin chemicals re-uptake, inducing a feeling of satiety usually experienced after a consistent meal.
The higher the quantity of these chemicals in your brain, the less hungry you feel and the less you eat. The most popular medication in this category is Meridia (sibutramine), Tenuate (diethylpropion), Adipex-p, Anoxine-AM, Fastin, etc, (phentermine).
The fat blockers are known for inhibiting the action of lipase. Lipase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down the fats that we eat when they get to our intestinal tract. Through its inhibition, the fats are no longer absorbed, but eliminated through bowel movements. The most popular prescription fat blocker on the market is FDA-approved Xenical, its active substance being Orlistat.
There is also a third category, not so well defined, formed by prescription pills with a completely different purpose, but which, during testing, provided excellent results in terms of weight loss. That is the case of several antidepressants, administered as diet aids after it was noticed that the people taking them not only lost weight but also kept it off for the long run.
Since the latest rumor in weight loss research is that stress is one of the most common causes of weight gain, one of the most unconventional products was released on the market – Relacore diet pills. They are a blend of vitamins and plant extracts said to block the release of stress hormones and thus induce weight loss. If we remember the way most women turn to chocolate and ice cream every time they are upset or under a lot of stress, the producers may have a point, and this could be one of the most effective treatments on the market.
There are several studies in progress, trying to determine the weight loss effects of treatments currently used to treat other severe conditions, like diabetes or epilepsy. Could substances like metformin, topiramate, or zonisamide become the active ingredients of future fat loss pills? We will have to wait and see.
Since this has turned into a flourishing business, more and more pharmaceutical companies are releasing new products on the market. More than 100 such formulas have been conceived and tested throughout the last eight years.
The most promising results seem to have been induced by Acomplia, based on rimonabant, which seems to act on the endocannabinoids, brain proteins believed to play an important part in appetite control. These fat-burning wonders work by blocking the endocannabinoids and preventing them from reaching the receptors located in the brain, responsible for cravings.
During the trials, the obese subjects who took Acomplia managed to lose over 10 % of their weight and kept it off in the following two years. These pills have several beneficial side effects, such as increasing HDL (the good cholesterol) and reducing the level of triglycerides, and even helping smokers give up their bad habits.
Who Should Take Doctor Prescribed Weight Loss Pills?
Diet supplements are usually prescribed to obese people who exceed their normal weight by over 30%, but also to those suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure. Although the incidence of obesity in children exceeds 16%, most of these pills are not recommended to be taken by children and teenagers under 16 years old. The only substance safe for children and teens over 12 years old is orlistat.
Is Anything Safe?
The general idea is that the over-the-counter diet pills are safer, while those released only based on prescription present various risks and side effects. However, the dangers seem to be the same on both sides, so they should not be taken without the advice of a specialist, no matter what kind they are.
The following are just a few of the dangers hiding behind many of the diet pills available on the market.
Around the middle of the 1990s, over 18 million people were taking phentermine and fenfluramine in order to lose weight and the results were shocking. In just a few months, the medical system was overwhelmed by the impressive number of patients who had developed very serious heart disease. As a result, the fen pills were withdrawn from the market in 1997 for causing heart problems.
Another similar story was about ephedra, considered by many specialists as amphetamines, which, although very efficient for weight loss, increased the risk of heart attack or stroke. When the FDA announced they would withdraw all ephedra-based drugs, the manufacturers of AcuTrim, Dexatrim and Metabolife, removed it from the composition of their products.
Anti-obesity pills become dangerous when mixed with other treatments, or when taken by people with various health conditions. However, when taken according to the recommendations, and preferably under the supervision of a physician, they can be safer than most over-the-counter supplements.