This Thursday, Dr. Oz and fellow guests will shed light on a new underground craze among mothers in our country. The show is titled, Mother’s Little Helper: The Dangerous Diet Craze Sweeping America.
Dr. Oz will speak with women from across the nation as they explain their obsession with a new pill popping fad. These women will admit to feeling energy boosts, increased concentration, and some women will discuss how the pills have helped them lose weight.
Dr. Oz will interview one pill-using mother who said, “I feel focused, have more energy, and feel like super mom.” Another mother shares how she’s already lost 35 pounds while using the pills and yet another mom simply states, “I really can’t imagine my life without being on this.”
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GNC recently signed a contract to exclusively market a new diet supplement called pAGG in its 1900 stores. PAGG is an acronym for its ingredients policosanol, alpha-lipoic acid, decaffeinated green tea, aged garlic extract and biotin. So is this the next weight loss miracle supplement? This supplement was recently discussed in the New York Times Bestseller The 4-Hour Body and its supplier NewHealth Solutions says to look no further for a fast and effective way to lose weight. I say let’s take a closer look.
It’s hard to know where to begin on this one. I see a lot of red flags. Policosanol is a mixture of fatty alcohol most commonly made from sugar cane wax. This product has been extensively studied in Cuba and is used there as a cure for almost anything. Policosanol is indicated for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Not only have many trials shown that policosanol does not significantly decrease cholesterol levels but that it also could increase the risk of bleeding, specifically from the gums or nose. Fish oils may be a better alternative to achieve healthy cholesterol levels.
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If, at first, you don’t succeed try, try again. That’s what Vivus, the makers of a diet drug called Qnexa did by resubmitting their drug approval application to the FDA advisory committee and it is now one step closer to being approved. The initial application was rejected because of two main concerns: risk of cardiac events like heart attacks and risk to women of child bearing age and women who may be pregnant.
Qnexa is a combination drug of phentermine and topiramate. Both these drugs are currently available by prescription which makes the approval process a little bit easier for Qnexa because there already are a lot of clinical trials and data available about these drugs. Phetermine increases metabolism while topiramate is used for seizures, migraine prevention and as an adjunct therapy for conditions like bipolar disorder. Weight loss for topiramate is really more of a glorified side effect that is believed to be caused by an increase in energy for the patient and increased feeling of fullness after eating because the digestive tract is slowed down.
Qnexa is a capsule made up of immediate release phentermine and extended release topiramate which would have a longer duration of action and is taken once daily. Vivus is currently studying the use of a low, moderate and high dose combination. Qnexa is indicated for people who have a BMI of 30 or higher or overweight patients with a BMI greater than 27 who have other conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and fat that is most prominent on the abdomen also known as belly fat. The most common side effects of this combination drug include a prickling or tingling sensation, dry mouth, constipation, and headache.
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The amount of questions that came pouring in to my pharmacy about raspberry ketones just hours after Dr. Oz’s episode about them makes me think I need to start DVRing the show. Being in the health care field I feel it is my responsibility to stay current with the latest drug and supplement information. Dr. Oz has a tremendous influence on his audience and I feel it’s important to dig a little deeper and not just take his word for it.
Raspberry ketones work in two ways for a possible weight loss effect. They increase the metabolism by increasing the release of a hormone called norepinephrine. When I think of norepinephrine I think what would happen to me if I were being chased by a bear. My heart rate speeds up and I may even have some palpitations, there’s a good chance I’ll be running the fastest I ever have. My body is going to release some glucose into my blood to give me more energy so I can outrun this bear. I’m sure that I will feel nervous, hot and that I’ll be panting for air even after I stop running. I would imagine that at this point I would not be hankering for food because my focus is to stay alive causing my appetite to be suppressed. My vision may become blurry and I may feel the need to throw up or even feel nauseous. I may also have difficulty falling asleep after my run-in with the bear.
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Let’s face reality. As much as doctors and pharmacists will tell you there are risks in taking diet pills and the effects they could have on your health, people take them anyway. What I do believe in is the power of knowledge and educating yourself before taking any chances. Let’s take a look at three pretty popular diet aids and how they compare to each other: Acai, Hoodia, and Raspberry Ketones, the newest craze.
Raspberry Ketones were recently discussed on the Dr. Oz show and hours later pharmacies were getting calls from patients. “Where can I get it, is it safe?” Well I can tell you that not many pharmacies or stores carry this product yet. It’s believed that raspberry ketones help burn fat by increasing the release of norepinephrine in your body. This causes the body’s temperature to rise and in doing this increases the body’s metabolism. Increased norepinephrine could causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Currently most of the raspberry ketone studies conducted were done in mice and we don’t have much to go on for how this will affect humans.
Hoodia is derived from a plant located in Southern Africa called hoodia gordonii. Commercially you can buy it in capsules, tablets, chocolate chews, and a variety of other forms. There are numerous websites selling hoodia, but because the products are not regulated by the FDA it’s possible you won’t be getting any of what you paid for.
There are few studies to support the effectiveness of hoodia. Pfizer was looking to enter the diet pill market and developed a molecule called P57, which was very similar to hoodia, but in 2003 decided to discontinue their research and give the rights to the other company they were working with, called Phytopharm.
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