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Herbal Weight Loss Pills

Herbal Weight Loss Pills Information

Here is a review of some herbal weight loss pills and diet supplements that claim to help people lose weight.
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Ephedra in Herbal Weight Loss Pills

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that this potentially hazardous herb is the key ingredient in so-called "natural" herbal alternatives to the now-banned prescription anti-obesity drug known as "fen-phen." The FDA considers "herbal fen-phen" weight loss pills to be unapproved diet pills that have not been proven safe or effective, and that contain ingredients linked to numerous injuries.

Dangers of Ephedra in Herbal Weight Loss Pills

Also known as ma huang, ephedra is the natural source of the amphetamine-like stimulant ephedrine. Its key ingredient can act as a powerful decongestant, suppress appetite, and speed the burning of fat, but in herbal diet pills the dangers of ephedra far outweigh the benefits. Over the last five years, the Food and Drug Administration has logged 1,000 serious reactions that may be linked to ephedra, including 38 deaths. The reactions included soaring blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, tremors, seizures, heart attack, and stroke.

Ephedra Herbal Weight Loss Products and the FDA

The FDA urges everyone to consult with a doctor before trying herbal weight loss pills containing ephedra and to always use them with extreme caution. Other diet experts advise against using any weight-loss products that contain the herb. If you do, make sure you don't get more than 8 milligrams of the drug ephedrine in any 6 hour period, and don't take any ephedra product for more than a week. You should avoid herbal weight loss pills containing ephedra completely if you have hypertension, heart trouble, kidney disease, neurologic disorders, diabetes, or an overactive thyroid gland, or if you're pregnant or nursing.

Investigation of Herbal Weight Loss Pills with Ephedra

The FDA had asked researchers at the University of California at San Francisco to evaluate 140 cases of suspected adverse events allegedly triggered by herbal weight loss pills containing ephedra.

  • Dr. Christine Haller, a UCSF toxicologist and lead author of the study recommended that people not to take this herbal product due to the serious risk of complications and minimal weight loss benefit to offset it.
  • Of the 140 incidents, 31 percent were "definitely or probably" the result of ephedra weight loss pills, the researchers claim, accounting for five cases of cardiac arrest, four strokes and three deaths. An additional 31 percent were "possibly" tied to the weight loss compound.
  • Taken together, these two groups accounted for 10 deaths and more than a dozen cases of permanently disabling injuries. Ephedra was also implicated in high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and palpitations.

Safety History of Ephedra-type Herbal Weight Loss Pills

For some time the safety of ephedra has been unclear, especially when used as a weight loss supplement or as a stimulant. In June 1997, the FDA proposed a rule that would have limited the amount of ephedra that could be added to dietary supplements to 8 milligrams. It would also have put warning labels on weight loss products cautioning against taking them for more than a week, and advising consumers not to combine them with other stimulants. On strong criticism from the General Accounting Office (GAO), that the agency needed more evidence before it can conclude that the herbal weight loss pills were truly dangerous, FDA later retracted the dosage recommendation.

Weight Loss Benefits of Ephedra-type Herbal Supplements

According to a 1995 report in the journal Obesity Research, Danish researchers found that ephedrine combined with caffeine helped obese patients on a strict diet lose an extra 7.5 pounds over six months compared with patients who simply dieted. Any product that promised to "melt away almost eight pounds in just six months" wouldn't exactly fly off the shelves.

Not everyone shares the opinion that ephedra is dangerous. The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group, believes that herbal weight loss pills containing ephedra are both effective for weight loss and safe for health. They cite a new report by Harvard and Columbia University researchers showing that people who took a combination of 90 milligrams of ephedra and caffeine lost more weight - but had no more adverse events - than those who took a placebo.

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HCA in Herbal weight Loss Pills

HCA, short for hydroxycitric acid, is an herbal extract found in at least 14 commercial weight-loss pills. The chemical, which is distilled from plants native to India, suppresses the appetite and slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into fat. Tripotassium Hydroxycitrate has long been recognised as being able to help control the appetite and slow the conversion of carbohydrates to fats in the liver, and it is a popular appetite suppressant. As a consequence it does aid weight loss. The best supplements contain Appetrim hydroxycitrate, which is recognised as the purest and most potent available.

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Pyruvate in Herbal Weight Loss Pills

This natural compound found in all plants and animals has gained wide popularity as a weight-loss aid.

However, in one of the few human studies of pyruvate, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that overweight patients who took herbal weight loss supplements containg pyruvate lost an extra 1.3 pounds over six weeks compared with patients who took a placebo.

Side Effects of Herbal Weight Loss Pills Containing Pyruvate

You should also be aware that ingesting large amounts of herbal weight loss pills containing pyruvate can cause intestinal distress, bloating, and diarrhea.

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PPA in Herbal Weight Loss Pills

Short for phenylpropanolamine, PPA is the active ingredient in Dexatrim, Acutrim, and several over-the-counter herbal weight loss pills. PPA was the most popular weight loss drug in the country, but it didn't win that position with astounding results. According to Robert Sherman of the FDA's Office of Over the Counter Drug Evaluation, "even the best studies show only about a half pound greater weight loss per week using PPA combined with diet and exercise." In October 2000, a panel of FDA advisers concluded that PPA was too dangerous to be available in over-the-counter products and called for makers to stop selling drugs containing it.

Medical experts point out that between 1965 and 1990, the agency learned of 142 serious reactions - including extreme spikes in blood pressure, headaches, strokes, and eight deaths - linked to PPA. Some of these victims overdosed, but two thirds took the herbal weight loss products as directed.

Includes material written by: Chris Woolston, M.S., CONSUMER HEALTH INTERACTIVE

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Note: the above information is a brief general summary about herbal weight loss pills, using weight loss information in the public domain. It is not intended to replace a doctors instructions about the suitability of these products. Before taking any weight loss medication please ask your doctor to explain all your weight loss options. When taking weight loss pills, take only as directed or prescribed.


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The material on this site is provided for general educational and general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be considered to be, any form of substitute for medical counseling. Always consult your own doctor or health care provider about the suitability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your own symptoms or medical conditions. If you are currently on a medically prescribed diet or have any specific medical conditions, food allergies or intolerances which require you to be on one, you must consult your doctor before following any advice on this site. If you have any doubts whatsoever, then for the sake of your health please consult your doctor.