How Do Appetite Suppressants Work? Benefits & Side Effects

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Appetite Suppressants are medications (or substances) that reduce the desire to eat. These drugs help you calm the emotional urge to eat food in large quantities. Such medications are helpful for people who want to lose weight but find it difficult to control their hunger. Over the years, medical researchers and developers have worked hard to advance appetite suppressants in the form of prescribed and over-the-counter medications.

How Do Appetite Suppressants Work?

Appetite Suppressants work through various mechanisms to reduce appetite and control food intake. Commonly, Appetite Suppressants target and regulate the neurotransmitters in our brain. Such drugs stimulate the release of norepinephrine, a hormone associated with satiety, and inspire the feeling of fullness. Some Appetite Suppressants also target serotonin levels, leading to reduced food cravings and a sense of fullness.

Besides these common medications, a range of other Appetite Suppressants are available on the market. Some contain stimulants like caffeine that, by increasing energy expenditure, affect the central nervous system and control appetite.

Do Appetite Suppressants Work?

Yes, Appetite Suppressants work, but they aren’t magical. These drugs are designed to target neurotransmitters or serotonin in the brain pathway and that’s how they show effective results in reducing appetite and controlling the overall food intake. People who use Appetite Suppressants may lose weight slightly faster and slightly more than those who don’t. However, it is essential to note that Appetite Suppressants also have some potential side effects associated with them.

Benefits Of Appetite Suppressants

Appetite Suppressants offer a range of potential benefits. However, what’s crucial to note is that these benefits come with some considerations and side effects. The list of benefits includes:

Benefits Of Appetite Suppressants
  1. These medications help in weight loss and weight management. Appetite Suppressants primarily aim to control hunger and thus reduce the overall food (calorie) consumption, resulting in weight loss.
  2. Appetite Suppressants help individuals who struggle with overeating, portion control, and emotional hunger.
  3. Appetite Suppressants help individuals who are struggling to make dietary or lifestyle changes. These medications provide additional support when sticking to a weight loss plan.

Side Effects Of Appetite Suppressants

Regardless of how practical and helpful Appetite Suppressants are in weight loss, many of these medicines have side effects that could occur. The list of some common side effects includes:

  1. Sleep disturbance and insomnia, especially with those Appetite Suppressants that contain stimulants like amphetamines, caffeine, etc.
  2. The feeling of nervousness, jitteriness, and restlessness.
  3. Some stimulant-based Appetite Suppressants are known to increase blood pressure and heart rate. This side effect is more common in individuals who are prone to or have pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. Some individuals may also experience light chest pain. 
  4. Reduced saliva and thus dryness in the mouth. Some individuals may experience extreme thirst.
  5. Headache, lightheadedness, and dizziness.
  6. Digestive and gastrointestinal issues, including stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea. 
  7. Other less common side effects include irritability, confusion, anxiety or mood swings, and swelling in certain body parts.
  8. One of the ordinary but overlooked side effects of consuming Appetite Suppressants is dependency and development of tolerance over time. Individuals using such medications for extended periods may require higher doses after some time.

FDA-Approved Appetite Suppressants

Some of the common prescription-based Appetite Suppressants approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include:

  1. Phendimetrazine (Prelu-2®).
  2. Phentermine (Pro-Fast®).
  3. Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia®).
  4. Diethylpropion (Tenuate dospan®).
  5. Liraglutide (Saxenda®).
  6. Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave®).
  7. Semaglutide

How Long Can You Take Appetite Suppressants?

The FDA-approved prescription-based Appetite Suppressants are safe to consume for up to 12 weeks. However, when consuming over-the-counter Appetite Suppressants, it is advisable to discontinue usage upon experiencing any side effects or even upon not noticing any benefits.

Although these medications come with instructions on usage, it is essential to learn that not all are subject to rigorous testing or regulation. OTC Appetite Suppressants can be used for a few weeks to a couple of months; however, consulting a medical expert is advisable for long-term usage.

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Natural Appetite Suppressants

Here are 5 natural Appetite Suppressants that may not show similar results to their medicinal counterparts but are safe to use:

  1. Green Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Fenugreek
  4. Glucomannan and other similar fibers
  5. Garcinia cambogia

Conclusion

Overall, Appetite Suppressants (both prescribed and OTC) effectively control hunger and weight management. The OTC medications use stimulant effects, whereas the prescribed ones target pathways in our brains.

If you are looking forward to trying Appetite Suppressants, it is safe to consult your doctor or any physician first. Depending on your health condition and medical history, a medical professional can prescribe you a suitable supplement.

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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