I wish I had a nickel for every weight loss aid and pill on the market. You and I could both retire. Many of these have been associated with serious medical risks, including heart attack, heart abnormalities, tachycardia, stroke, seizures and death. That's pretty scary!
Most diet pills are appetite suppressants of one kind or another, generally stimulants with effects similar to those of amphetamine. They're okayed for treatment of obesity, where it's considered that the health risks associated with obesity outweigh the risks of the medication.
But is you have less than 30 pounds to lose, the risks are far less cut-and-dried. Over the counter medications and their risks are not as well-documented as the effects of prescription diet pills. Herbal preparation effects are documented even less, especially those whose makers don't officially make weight loss claims.
Here's part of the problem. As long as they don't contain a 'new' ingredient, or one that has never been marketed for weight loss purposes, weight-loss aids are not subject to FDA review. Instead, the manufacturer is held responsible for the safety and effectiveness of their products. So a lot of times that means unregulated dosages, unhealthy additives and ineffective ingredients.
Hopefully, one day all over the counter medications and herbal preparations marketed as weight loss supplements will be labeled and tested by impartial researchers. Until then, there are some things that you can do to lessen diet pill risks.
Research thoroughly. There's a lot of information out there about drugs and herbs like ephedra, ephinedrine, phentermine and sibutramine. Know what you're taking and what the risks are so that you can watch for side effects.
Always talk to your doctor before you start taking any drug or herbal supplement. Yes, I know you've heard this a thousand times, but there are good reasons for the advice! Some products interact poorly with other medications, or have an adverse effect on chronic conditions.
Follow dosage instructions. Overdoses of stimulant medications, which are a component of most weight loss preparations, can be serious and severe.
Don't take any weight loss pill or supplement for more than a few weeks unless a doctor has prescribed it.
Ask your pharmacist when purchasing over the counter weight loss preparations to be sure that the ingredients don't interact with other medications you may be taking. Include both prescription and nonprescription medications in your questions.
There are much more healthy and effective ways to lose weight than taking pills. The potential of serious health problems remains. It's an awful lot of risk for a little weight loss.