This is the third installment of our quest into weight loss products that are out on the market these days waiting to accost desperate consumers. There are literally millions of people out there in the world who want to lose weight, and they seem to be willing to do or pay almost anything in order to have a “quick fix” for their problem. Unfortunately, there is no real “quick fix” per se. Although there are plenty of claims being made out there by the companies that make these products, the fact is that many, if not most of these products are not only useless when it comes to weight loss, but also dangerous, with some of them even being linked to the deaths of those who use them.
Today we are going to continue with the world of the chemical and natural choices:
When the chemical diet drug “Orlistat” (which goes by the trade name of Xenical) came onto the market people were flocking to the pharmacies to get it. This was even though it had an exorbitant price tag attached. It was touted as the new “miracle” weight loss aid. It works by blocking the fat absorption in the intestine. The problem is that it has serious side effects, some of which are merely uncomfortable, and some of which are downright dangerous. It is important to understand that the US FDA was skeptical and not very keen on approving this drug. Initial clinical trials apparently were disturbing and showed some unusual results, for example a seeming connection with using the drug and getting breast cancer. But, as usual the show must go on and big money talks.
Some of the side effects of Xenical are as follows:
• severe gassiness
• spontaneous excretion of oil from the anus
• oily diarrhea or defecation (sometimes uncontrollable)
• complete or partial fecal incontinence (this is fairly common)
• flu-like general malaise
• certain vitamin deficiencies, including: A, D, E, Beta-carotene, and K, which are all fat soluble vitamins
• putrid odor with bowel movements and gas
You may think that the side effects would be worth it, but think before you act! I will tell you a little story of something that happened to a friend of mine. She had been taking Xenical for a while and she was driving along in her car when she had one of the “accidents” that it is so famous for (she had a spontaneous bout of putrid diarrhea) and then her car broke down. She could move, because she was sitting on a putrid, oily, orange colored mess! Well, finally someone stopped to help her, and she had to get out of the car, because there was no way to start it, but she wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The man in the crispy white dishdasha, who had been so kind to stop and help her sat right smack in the middle of the putrid, oily, orange mess! He got out of the car without realizing what had happened, and since her car had started, but she raced off at the speed of light out of embarrassment, and that helpful man will probably think 100 times before he helps anyone else!
Perhaps all this would be acceptable to some for the benefit of a huge weight loss in a short time, but in actuality, the weight loss with this drug is often quite low, and sometimes people even gain weight. This is partly because people tend to think that taking this drug gives them free license to eat as much oil as they want. Also, there are several situations where you wouldn’t be able to take this drug, and since practically anyone can buy it here in Kuwait, many people are going to be taking it that aren’t supposed to. For example, people who suffer from eating disorders (hmmm, aren’t these exactly those who this drug is targeting?), pregnant women, diabetics, people with any kind of digestive disorder, people with kidney stones, gall bladder problems, and people who take certain kinds of drugs, including some blood thinners, and drug to reduce cholesterol. This is one of the reasons that it is imperative that you check with your medical professional before embarking on any new diet program, particularly if it includes drugs.
The moral of the story here is to think before you buy! Don’t just jump on any band wagon of diet “therapy” without thoroughly investigating what you are getting yourself into. While some of the products do work to some degree or the other, many of them don’t work, or work very little. While there are many people who claim that Xenical helped them lose weight, there are many more people who not only didn’t lose weight with it, but actually gained, and while this isn’t exactly the fault of the producers of the drug, it still is a fact worth knowing.
The bottom line when dealing with Xenical is “buyer beware”. This drug isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the side effects are, frankly, atrocious! My advice on this one is when in doubt, don’t!
(Later note…. several years after I originally wrote this article, I was called to a new patient who was basically in a vegetative state.
The doctors really couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her…she was exhibiting signs of mad cow disease, which would pretty much be impossible for her, being a Muslim, who doesn’t eat meat with residual blood, etc, like most people who contract the disease.
So, while I was collecting her medical history, I asked about whether she had been on a weight loss diet prior to her illness.
Her daughter’s eye widened, and she said yes (this was no surprise to me, and sadly, this was not the first person I had seen with detrimental side effects due to extreme “low fat” dieting.
She told me that her mother was on a strict low fat diet and that she had been popping Xenical like candy.
Obviously, her illness can not be blamed on Xenical at face value, because she wasn’t following the proper dosing of the drug.
It was entirely her own fault.
But, what it seemed was that (and this is entirely speculation on my part, but it is hoped that more research will be done on this issue, because it is urgently needed) the low fat diet, combined with fat sucking pills, basically caused her brain to be eaten away (after all, brains are made of mostly fat, and if the body doesn’t have any more, it makes logical sense that the fat has to come from somewhere, and it came from her brain). Scary, huh???
Let this be an extreme warning!
So, here are two great books for keeping your brain safe while dieting 🙂
(Next week we will continue with our exploration into the wild world of diet aids).
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