Weight Loss Supplements: Friends or Foes?

Updated on September 1, 2020

Weight loss supplements are nothing new to doctors or people who want to shed some pounds fast and with no effort. In the past years, medication manufacturers led intense marketing campaigns to promote one miracle pill after the next, all promising overnight results with no complications. However, even the most innocent herbal weight loss supplement can cause adverse reactions. Let us see today if weight loss medication and dietary supplements are all that the advertising industry makes them be!

Weight Loss Supplements vs. Weight Loss Medication: Is There Any Difference?

In a nation where obesity is a national health crisis, and fad diets make the news every day, physicians are the ones that should inform, teach, and train patients in the practice of healthy weight loss. For people who are not obese but want to shake off a few pounds, weight loss pills seem to be the easiest way out. In case the manufacturer also advertises that the weight loss supplements are enough to achieve a dreamy silhouette, no dieting or exercising needed, you can hear the ka-ching of cash registers and P.O.S. units.

However, what most people fail to realize is that currently, the F.D.A. approved only five weight-loss drugs for long-term use. More importantly, these drugs focus on people with obesity and comorbidities (like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases). For a doctor to prescribe you such medication, you have to present a Body Mass Index over 30, or a B.M.I. over 27 plus associated health conditions.

So the question here is, what the other weight-loss supplements and pills are that we find everywhere, from pharmacies to supermarkets?

A Few Words on O.T.C. Weight Loss Medication

No doctor ever will instruct you to pump up a bag of pills each day to lose weight fast instead of engaging you in a mindful, healthy, and successful weight loss program. Still, millions of people in the U.S. and across the world take over the counter weight loss pills in the hopes that such drugs would perform miracles.

While nobody argues against the safe use of such medication, you should be aware of some facts.

·         The federal law does not require the F.D.A. to test and approve weight loss supplements before they reach the market. While the agency can issue warnings, guidelines, public health announcements, and recommendations, these pills and powders hit the shelves on the manufacturers’ word that they are safe;

·         Most weight loss drug companies do not even test the efficiency and safety of such pills on humans, so you pretty much take them at your own risk;

·         Even the herbal supplements that gained a reputation in the past years for their weight loss efficiency can lead to severe adverse reactions and health complications. Either you think about Garcinia cambogia, spirulina, caffeine, or other supplements, you should do your research before taking any of them.

One issue with weight loss supplements that few people talk about is not their efficacy per se, but the risk of them getting in contact with contaminants. Since they do not fall under federal regulations, contamination is not out of the question. Tainted weight loss herbal supplements could link to common side effects like nausea or vomiting, or debilitating adverse reactions such as liver damage, anaphylactic shock, organ failure, and even death.

What Happens if a Weight Loss Supplement Triggers Adverse Reactions?

From both a medical and legal standpoint, there is a difference between a medicine’s common side effects and drug injuries. In case a weight loss supplement leads directly to a severe health problem, the F.D.A. can intervene, and the suffering patient can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, but only under some conditions.

If a drug injury occurs, the F.D.A. can force the weight loss drug’s manufacturer to report the incident. Upon investigation, the agency can ban, restrict, or terminate the product’s life on the shelves.

As a patient suffering from a drug injury caused by a weight loss drug, you can file a personal injury claim with the help of an attorney. However, you should do your homework thoroughly. According to baderscott.com, you can hold a drug company accountable for your drug injuries. You can file a personal injury claim if you can prove the medication in question had a poor design, the manufacturing of that specific product was defective, or the company failed to provide accurate and complete warnings, instructions, and guidelines. An attorney can help you build a case and represent you in court.

However, you might not have legal grounds for a claim in one or more of the following cases:

·         You read the medication’s transparent, complete, understandable, and enough instructions, guidelines, information, etc. and you decided to take it still despite all warnings;

·         Your doctor discussed with you the potential short-term and long-term side effects of the medication in question, and you still decided to take it;

·         Upon dispensing, the pharmacist told you about the potential side effects, adverse reactions, or precautions related to that specific drug, but you still took it.

Medicine, law, and authorities all agree that all medications and supplements – from aspirin to herbal laxative teas – can have side effects. You will not likely hear about lawsuits involving headaches, runny noses, or upset stomachs. You will, however, hear about drug recalls, F.D.A. interventions, and court cases revolving around liver damages, neurological conditions, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, diabetes, congenital disabilities, and more.

How Can You Be Safe while Taking Weight Loss Supplements?

Common sense dictates to consult with your physician before taking any weight-loss drugs, as benign as they may seem. For further research on what you are about to put in your body, check the MedWatch database to learn more about the product and even report the side effects that you experienced. Read all the labels and the information papers for all the drugs you take and take your time to investigate the manufacturer for reputation, records with the F.D.A., or current personal injury lawsuits.

Most than everything, remember that if a “miracle pill” sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It is not worth risking your health and life just to fit in those favorite jeans of yours. Always seek medical support and counseling from the health practitioners that you trust.

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