Uses, Types, Health Benefits & Side-Effects
An appetite suppressant is a drug, supplement, food, or other methods that trick a
person’s body that it is not hungry.
Some methods of tricking the body that it is not hungry are more effective than others.
Prescription drugs that suppress appetite include diethylpropion, benzphetamine, phentermine, and mazindol.
These drugs are usually in tablet form or extended-release capsules. There are prescription appetite suppressants as well as over-the-counter appetite suppressants.
How do appetite suppressants work?
Drugs that are classified as appetite suppressants affect the body’s central nervous system by tricking the body to believe that it does not feel hunger.
Appetite suppressants also increase the chemicals in the brain that promotes satiety.
Appetite suppressants are used as a short-term treatment for obese individuals. The drugs cannot be used long-term because the effects of the drugs to the body wear off after a few weeks.
Who may use appetite suppressants?
Appetite suppressants are not for everybody. The studies on the effects of the drugs on older adults are very limited. Also, no studies on the drugs’ effect on children have not been done yet.
A doctor should consider the following before prescribing appetite suppressants to patients: any existing allergies; if the patient is pregnant or is breastfeeding; and the types of medications the patient is currently taking.
Existing medical conditions may affect a person’s use of appetite suppressants.
A patient should inform his doctor if he has any of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Epilepsy Overactive thyroid
- Drug or alcohol abuse or history thereof
How to use appetite suppressants?
Individuals who are prescribed appetite suppressants should follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. It is important for the individual to know how he responds to the medications before driving or operating machinery because the drugs may cause lightheadedness or drowsiness.
Appetite suppressants are best taken on an empty stomach an hour before a meal.
Sustained-release or long-acting appetite suppressants must be swallowed whole.
Chewing or crushing them will destroy the long action and increase the side effects. Appetite suppressants may cause sleeplessness so it is recommended to not take them late in the day.
Appetite suppressants are usually taken for not more than 8 or 12 weeks.
Taking appetite suppressants too often or in too large a quantity, or for longer than what the doctor prescribed, may lead to addiction, or in a worst-case scenario, an overdose.
The symptoms of appetite suppressant overdose include confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, and even come. Individuals who experience any of the following symptoms must call their doctor immediately:
● Chest pain
● A decrease in the ability to exercise
● Difficulty breathing
● Swelling in the feet or lower leg
Health benefits of appetite suppressants
Appetite suppressants help in controlling hunger, which is an essential key to weight loss for many individuals. Many individuals have learned that no matter how hard they exercise, they find it hard to reach the fat loss targets if they cannot control their energy intake.
The following are the known health benefits of appetite suppressants:
- Appetite suppressants help control your hunger
Appetite suppressants directly or indirectly alter the chemistry of the brain, making you
feel satiated or not hungry for longer periods of time as compared to other foods. You
can achieve your reduced-calorie target when you eat a lot less than usual.
- Appetite suppressants can increase your satiety response
Appetite suppressants can decrease the body’s hunger signals, increase your feelings of
satiety, delay the process of digestion or reduce the absorption of digested food,
resulting in the consumption of fewer calories.
Appetite is controlled by the hypothalamus, a region in the brain. The hypothalamus
serves as the master computer of the body. It is responsible for telling you the exact
amount of food that you need. Hormonal changes can lead you to feel hungry, which will
lead you to find food. Foraging for energy is an important element of survival and
The hypothalamus helps you maintain your body weight around a particular setpoint,
and avoid the problems that come with low energy intake, which include
malnourishment, illness, and death. However, because of the availability today of so
much food, many people take the concept of foraging to the extreme, resulting in the
overeating of an abundance of calories and eventually weight gain. Together with the
other factors that can solve the problem of obesity, appetite suppressants have become a
very common treatment for the problem.
- Appetite suppressants act on neurotransmitters and hunger hormones
Appetite refers to the person’s desire for food intake while hunger is the interaction
between the central nervous system, hormones, and the gut. The hypothalamus controls
satiety and hunger using hormones such as ghrelin, leptin, PYY, CKK, and GLP-1.
Appetite suppressants improve weight loss by changing the way the hormones work.
They stop satiety and appetite hormones while interrupting the hunger signals that are
sent to the brain when you are hungry.
- Appetite suppressants can help burn more calories
There is appetite-suppressing drugs that also have effects on your total daily energy
expenditure. For example, the now-banned sibutramine was able to prevent the drop in
basal metabolic rate, a process that is often observed during weight loss. Some evidence
suggests that sibutramine increased also thermogenesis.
Types of appetite suppressants
The US FDA has given approval to the following medications that you can buy only with a doctor’s prescription:
● Liraglutide – This drug is taken as an injection. The drug was originally sold as a
diabetes treatment using the brand name Victoza. It reduces hunger by acting on
a hormone in the gut.
● Lorcaserin – This drug acts on the receptors in the brain for mood chemical
serotonin. This drug can help you feel full even if you eat less than you normally
● Naltrexone – This drug is a combination of two medications. It affects the reward
system in your brain, resulting in eating foods that normally make you feel good
suddenly becomes not good anymore. The drug works on your hypothalamus,
which regulates your appetite, temperature, and other functions.
● Phentermine – Phentermine is another two-drug combo. Phentermine is a
stimulant, which makes you feel less hungry. The other ingredient is Topiramate,
a medicine used to treat seizures and headaches, but as part of the combo can make you feel less hungry and full.
● Benzphetamine, phendimetrazine, and diethylpropion – These are drugs for short-term use, which along with a reduced-calorie diet and a doctor-approved exercise, as well as behavior change program can help you lose weight.
The following are some of the over-the-counter appetite suppressants that you may be without the need for a doctor’s prescriptions:
● Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – It is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is common in foods such as beef and dairy. It is also available in concentrated form; which people use as a weight loss supplement. CLA reduces appetite and intake in animal studies but has not yet been proven to reduce appetite in humans.
While CLA may promote fat loss, it has a very small impact on weight loss.
● Bitter orange – Bitter orange is a variety of orange that contains the compound synephrine, which may be effective in reducing appetite.
Synephrine has similar stricture with the currently banned drug ephedrine.
Bitter orange supplements are sold on the market to promote weight loss by reducing your appetite. It is available over-the-counter.
● Garcinia cambogia – It is one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market today. It is made with an extract from the Garcinia gummi-gutta fruit.
The pills are used to suppress appetite and promote weight loss. Garcinia
cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid which reduces appetite by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain and reducing the metabolism of carbohydrates.
● Hoodia Gordonii – It is a succulent plant that is commonly used by the
indigenous people in southern Africa to suppress their appetite. Extracts from the plant are used as dietary supplements that are promoted to reduce appetite and boost weight loss.
The mechanism of how Hoodia Gordonii works is still unknown but many scientists believe that it has a link to the P57 compound, which impacts the central nervous system and decreases appetite.
● Glucomannan – It is a soluble fiber derived from the roots of the konjac plant. It is able to absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, making it as a weight loss supplement that increases the fullness and reduces appetite. Glucomannan helps reduce appetite by increasing your feelings of fullness, blocking the absorption of fat and protein, and slowing digestion.
As with any other drug, appetite suppressants may cause some unpleasant side effects, including:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive thirst
Appetite suppressants help you lose weight by reducing your hunger and increasing your satiety. They also increase thermogenesis while offsetting a drop in metabolic rate while you are eating, producing a direct effect on your weight loss. Once taking of the supplement is stopped, you are likely to regain the weight that you lost.
Research has shown that prescription appetite suppressants can help with weight loss.
However, you should consider the possible benefits against the possible side effects of taking the drugs.
It is for your best interest if you discuss first with your doctor the benefits and side effects of the supplement before you request for a prescription.