Current Weight Loss Meds: Can They Help?

May 5, 2011

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medicationHave you ever wondered if there might be a medication that would make your weight loss efforts easier and more effective?

Actually, there are several prescription medications currently available for this purpose. Of course they aren’t “magic pills” that will allow you to eat whatever you want, not exercise, and still lose weight. But in combination with a balanced nutritional plan, regular exercise, and a solid counseling approach that addresses any behaviors contributing to the problem, they can be quite helpful.

One word of caution: Do not try to purchase any of these medications on the black market or through Internet pharmacies. Many times the pills sold illegally are not what they are advertised to be. At best they may have no active ingredients. At worst, they could contain any number of harmful ingredients or possibly be fatal. Herbal medications and supplements can be equally dangerous. Don’t take the risk!

Remember, the only safe place to get weight loss medications is by prescription from a licensed medical professional who is monitoring you for possible side effects and interactions with other medications or other medical conditions.

Some medications work by suppressing appetite, some work by stimulating your energy levels, some block the absorption of fat in the digestive tract, and others work by minimizing the drive to binge eat.

Some people will take a single medication, others may need a combination. Once again, only a medical provider who is trained in the use of such medications should determine which medications are best for your particular situation and at what dosage. This is not a do-it-yourself project!

So what medications are available? Here is a list of the most common:

Phentermine: This medication helps reduce cravings and control hunger by blocking certain pathways in the brain. It is most effective in the first six months, after which the effect diminishes. At that time it may be necessary to take a break from the medication or switch to an alternative medication. Once taken as part of the Fen-Phen combo, it’s not to be confused with fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine, which were linked to heart problems and taken off the market. This medication has been shown to be safe and effective when taken on its own. It is not believed to be addictive.

Phendimetrizine: This medication is a stimulant that suppresses appetite and increases energy. In rare cases it has been linked to dependence or addiction.

Tenuate: This medication works by suppressing appetite, making it easier for some people to adjust to eating smaller portions. It is most effective in the first month of use. It may be alternated with other appetite suppressants as its effectiveness diminishes.

Xenical: Once available by prescription only, this medication is now also available over-the-counter under the brand name Alli. The medication blocks the absorption of 20 to 25 percent of the fat passing through the digestive tract so that the fat – and calories – are not absorbed. One must be careful to follow a low-fat diet while on this medication to avoid unpleasant digestive distress, as eating too much fat can lead to sudden, urgent, and uncontrollable bowel movements.

Wellbutrin: This medication also used for smoking cessation and anxiety has been shown to be associated with weight loss in some patients.

Byetta: This injectible medication used for the management of diabetes has shown to have weight loss as a side effect, making it a good choice for some who are overweight and also diabetic.

Once more, please do not take this information and try to obtain these medications on your own. If you think weight loss medications may be of help to you, consult a physician. If your doctor is not familiar with their use, call The Center for Medical Weight Loss. We’d be happy to work with you and your doctor to tailor a safe and effective weight loss plan created just for you.
Dr. Michael Kaplan
Founder and Chief Medical Officer
The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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