Dangerous Weight Loss Methods

Between 2008 and 2011, the Federal Drug Administration received 6,307 dietary supplement adverse event reports, including 92 reported deaths. People are encouraged to report an adverse event to their primary care manager, the Health Promotions Office or through the Operation Supplement Safety website under the section natural medicine. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

We’re all looking for that magic pill. You know – the one that we can take and lose weight without really trying!

What would you give up to be skinny? How about your health? Well, some of the methods of weight loss may cost you exactly that. Before you decide that the way to lose weight is to follow one of the below regimens, take a second look. Do your research and be sure that you understand the risks.

Are you considering one of these dangerous weight loss methods?

Prescription diet pills

Amphetamines are available only by prescription, and most doctors are leery of handing them out these days. While they do suppress appetite, you learn nothing about healthy eating, you don’t change your eating habits, and you are likely to gain the weight back the moment you stop taking them. In addition, they can be habit forming. The side effects include high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, sleeplessness, hallucinations and delusions.


This all natural Asian herb is found in many herbal remedies and weight loss powders. It has a powerful appetite suppressant effect, but has been implicated in over 70 deaths.

Phentermine Fenfluramine-phentermine (fen-phen)

Fen-phen was a popular weight loss supplement in the 90’s until it was implicated in deaths due to heart-valve damage. Phentermine alone is still sold in many weight loss aids. The side effects include headaches, dizziness, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure and insomnia. Now a days, people using Phen375, its alternate of phentermine.


One of the popular home remedies, used for purging. Regular use and abuse of laxatives can result in low potassium, arrhythmia, and pancreatic damage.

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, the most commonly used artificial sweetener, has been implicated in multiple lawsuits alleging damages that include blindness, seizures and brain damage.


Afraid you’ll gain weight if you quit smoking? The National Institute of Diabetes says that you’d have to gain 100-150 pounds to match the health risks you invoke by smoking. Instead, set up healthy strategies to help you deal with food cravings and put down the cigarettes.


Like laxatives, purging by forcing oneself to vomit or taking emetics can have very damaging effects on health. Depletion of nutrients like potassium and vitamins, damage to the esophagus from stomach acids, and esophageal rupture are all possible side effects.


Taking diuretics encourages your body to rid itself of fluids – including vital electrolytes. The depletion can lead to dehydration, and cause your body to start retaining water, starting a vicious cycle. Repeated or prolonged use of diuretics can lead to kidney damage and serious electrolyte imbalances, which may result in kidney or heart failure.

Herbal Remedies

We have a tendency to equate ‘herbal’ with ‘harmless’, but say nutritionists, this isn’t always the case. Remember that many medications are derived from herbs, and because of the lack of regulation, dosages of active ingredients can vary widely from one manufacturer to another. Below is a list of some of the most common ingredients found in herbal weight loss powders, along with cautions about their effects in certain conditions.

Ephedra (ma huang, ephedrine, ephedra extract, epitonin, ephdra sinica and sida cordifolia) should not be taken by people with heart, thyroid or kidney disease, or with hypertension

Cascara and Senna should not be taken by people taking diuretics (both are often found in herbal weight loss teas)

Selenium and Capsaicin should not be taken by people with bowel or digestive disorders

Kava should be avoided by people with mood disorders who are taking mood altering medication, and people with Parkinson’s disease.

Gingko biloba, licorice root, and dong quay should not be taken by people who are taking blood thinners or anti-coagulants.

While weight loss is a worthwhile goal, guarding your health is an even more important one.

Be sure that whatever weight loss method you choose it won’t lead to other serious medical conditions.