Diet pills have been a popular phenomenon since the 1950s in the United States. Since this time, diet and weight-loss pills have built up a huge market worldwide. What make these pills so popular is their affordability. Many diet pills, including herbal, "all-natural" supplements, range in price from $50 to $200 and are available at health food stores, drugstores and grocery stores. Because it is easier, and cheaper, to pop a pill than go to the gym, many people turn to diet pills in order to lose weight. But is this really safe?
One of the biggest issues with diet pills is the fact that, in the United States, these pills are not subjected to the same health standards as prescription drugs and other controlled medications. As a result, the makers of diet pills can make claims and promises about their drugs based on their individual studies and without the authorization of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, drug vendors may be unauthorized in the labeling, packaging and manufacture of their products.
Many weight-loss pills have a host of ingredients including herbs, botanicals, vitamins, laxatives and caffeine. Doctors warn there is no way to know how these ingredients will react with body chemistry. It is especially dangerous if a person is already taking other medications. Despite these warnings, thousands of people are willing to give diet pills a try in the hopes of losing a few extra pounds.
Popular Diet Pills
There are a number of weight loss pills on the market today, including Trim Spa, chitosan, chromium, and conjugated linoleic acid.
Trimspa is one of the most popular diet pills currently on the U.S. weight-loss market. Made by Goen Technologies, TrimSpa has been endorsed by celebrity Anna Nicole Smith, who reportedly lost over 65 pounds while using the pill. Each bottle of TrimSpa costs around $40 and can be found in pharmacies across the U.S. Advertisements for Trimspa claim it is a natural weight loss formula to be used in combination with a balanced diet and exercise program.
Originally containing the now-banned stimulant herb Ephedra, the primary ingredient of TrimSpa is Hoodia gordonii, a native plant of South Africa. Hoodia gordonii is an appetite suppressant that has been used for years by the San indigenous peoples of South Africa. Other ingredients of TrimSpa include chromium, vanadium, glucomannan and green tea extract.
However, TrimSpa is not without its share of side effects. Possible side effects of Trimspa include heart palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, chromium toxicity, migraines, and elevated blood sugar. It is recommended that people using antidepressants or anticoagulants (blood thinners) should not take this drug before consulting their doctor.
Chitosan, which is touted on internet websites as a "super fiber", claims to have the ability to bind to fat and oils, thereby making them impossible for your body to absorb. Because chitosan supposedly works before fats and oils reach your stomach, your body fails to metabolize them, which means you don't gain weight. As for where this absorbed fat does go, it apparently forms a type of "grease ball," which you expel when you go to the washroom.
Unfortunately, in addition to creating a nice little ball of grease inside of you, chitosan is also known to cause constipation and gastrointestinal bloating. However, while no extensive research has been done on the long-term effects of this drug, it is reported to be relatively safe.
The drug chromium picolinate claims to reduce body fat and build muscle but studies have shown that chromium may have a harmful effect on the body's cells and genetic material. The research is inconclusive but according to the Mayo Clinic, chromium is known to be relatively safe.
Chromium is a natural mineral within the human body that helps cells respond properly to insulin. Chromium, which is not easily absorbed in the body, can be naturally found in whole grains, bran cereals, green beans and broccoli.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) professes to reduce body fat, decrease appetite, build muscle and increase metabolism. The preliminary research for this drug has been conducted on animals and there are no conclusive studies to prove that the drug's effects on animals will have similar effects on humans. CLA may decrease body fat and increase muscle, but the studies completed thus far are inconclusive. Known side effects of the drug include diarrhea, indigestion and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Fatal Effects of Diet Pills
The most frightening effects of diet pills were revealed in the U.S. in the late 1990s when the drugs ephedra, fenfluramine and phentermine (referred to as fen-phen) were enjoying major popularity.
Phentermine, approved by the FDA in 1959 and fenfluramine, approved in 1973, were used in combination as a weight-loss treatment by an estimated six to seven million people. Numerous people were taking these drugs and were delighted with their dramatic weight loss. In September 1997, though, fenfluramine was recalled by the manufacturer due to consumer reports of heart valve problems, primary pulmonary hypertension, and possible neuropsychological damage.
Ephedra, another weight loss aid, was recalled in 2003 after more than 16,000 cases were presented against the drug. The drug reportedly caused heart attacks, strokes and the deaths of an estimated 200 people.
No Miracle Diet Pill
There are millions of other diet supplements and drugs to be found in the multi-billion dollar weight-loss industry. It is important to remember that there is no "miracle pill" that will effectively aid in weight loss. The proven weight loss method is through fitness and a nutritious diet. No drug or supplement should be added to a diet without consulting with a doctor or medical professional first.