Weight loss pills have been a subject for heated debates and bitter controversies for decades. Praised by some as life-turning instruments for gaining self-esteem and looking good, diet pills are hailed by others as deadly chemicals that can wreck havoc inside our bodies and very likely kill us. Today, I'm going to talk to you about one of the most commonly used weight loss drugs out there, a little blue and white pill that goes by the name of phentermine.
Phentermine is closely related to amphetamines and works as an appetite suppressant. Its main function is to stimulate the release of brain chemicals that effectively reduce sensations of hunger, making us feel like we don't need to eat at all, or we have to eat very little. However, a report of the UN International Narcotics Control Board published last year warned that phentermine is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the world, along with other amphetamine-type drugs collectively and ironically known as "anorectics". Another almost equally abused such drug is Ritalin, whose main purpose it to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children - however, one of its main side effects is also appetite suppression.
A quick search on the Internet will reveal thousands of pages stuffed full of glowing testimonials from "overjoyed" women who took phentermine and lost tens of pounds in surprisingly short intervals, something that would definitely not have happened if they had been trying to lose the weight the old-fashioned way, using diet and exercise. However, most women who share their experiences with the weight loss drug conveniently forget to mention its common side-effects, among which mood swings, chest pain, tremors and irregular heartbeat. A phentermine overdose can induce hallucinations, seizures, severe headaches, blurred vision and vomiting.
The scariest part of the story - along with the terrible side-effects of this drug - is that phentermine is readily available on the Internet and can easily be bought from online pharmacies, despite being banned in countries such as Great Britain. The catch is that the law banning the use of phentermine without a valid prescription doesn't apply to overseas pharmacies that sell via the web.
Professor Hamid Ghodse is a former president of the UN's International Narcotics Control Board and is currently the chairman of addiction psychiatry at St George's Hospital in London. In an interview with the Daily Mail a few months ago, he warns women all over the world about the dangers of phentermine and all other amphetamine-related diet pills used to cut weight. "They've been around in various guises since the Sixties and are highly addictive", he says. "Users can experience painful withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, headaches and convulsions, when they try to stop taking the drug".
"The drugs work by stimulating the central nervous system, mimicking the natural effect of adrenalin by increasing the heart rate and suppressing the appetite", Professor Ghodse explains. "Users also feel euphoric and have increased energy levels. However, this also leads to insomnia. Over time, sleep deprivation, coupled with weight loss caused by what basically amounts to starvation, can cause extreme changes in behavior. Users have hallucinations, mood swings, become anxious, paranoid and sometimes violent", he adds.
And finally, endocrinologists also warn that any weight loss achieved using phentermine is only temporary. "Most people simply put the weight back on once they stop taking the drugs", the Daily Mail quotes Endocrinologist Dr Nicola Bridges, who specialized in the medical treatment of obesity. "These are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. They have to be prescribed by a doctor who has carefully assessed the risk versus benefit for the patient".
Whether we like it or not, there is no quick fix, no rapid solution for healthy weight loss. In an age where everything tells us that we have to be thin to be successful, the temptation posed by these drugs cannot be denied. Coupled with their widespread availability and relatively low costs, weight loss drugs are among the demons of our modern society and cannot be ignored. The best solution however is to protect your body and not try to cheat or cut corners. Go on a healthy, all-natural diet. Exercise. Take up running or dancing. Stay healthy and with enough determination, you can lose weight without killing your body in the process.