“Where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.” Thomas Gray’s quote can put your health at risk. Weight loss and mood enhancement (St. John’s Wort) supplements can interact with your prescription medications. You must understand what the supplement does and its potential side effects.
More than one-third1 (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
The proven ways to lose weight are by eating healthful foods, cutting calories, and being physically active. But making these lifestyle changes isn’t easy, so you might wonder if taking a dietary supplement that’s promoted for weight loss might help.
Jay Harold has found information that helps you learn more about weight loss and St. John’s Wort. A fact sheet2 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes what’s known about the safety and effectiveness of many ingredients that are commonly used in weight-loss dietary supplements. Sellers of these supplements might claim that their products help you lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat or carbohydrates, curbing your appetite, or speeding up your metabolism. But there’s little scientific evidence that weight-loss supplements work. Many are expensive, some can interact or interfere with medications, and a few might be harmful.
If you’re thinking about taking a dietary supplement to lose weight, talk with your health care provider. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions.
What are the Ingredients in Weight-Loss dietary supplements?
Weight-loss supplements contain many ingredients like herbs, fiber, and minerals in different amounts and in many combinations. Sold in forms such as capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders, some products have dozens of ingredients.
Common ingredients in weight-loss supplements are described below. Click here to get detailed information about the weight-loss supplements. You’ll learn what’s known about whether each ingredient works and is safe. Figuring out whether these ingredients help you lose weight safely is complicated, though. Most products contain more than one ingredient, and ingredients can work differently when they’re mixed.
Common Ingredients in Weight-Loss Dietary Supplements Include
- Green coffee bean extract
- Garcinia cambogia
You may be surprised to learn that makers of weight-loss supplements rarely carry out studies in people to find out whether their product works and is safe. And when studies are done, they usually involve only small numbers of people taking the supplement for just a few weeks or months. To know whether a weight-loss supplement can help people lose weight safely and keep it off, larger groups of people need to be studied for a longer time.
Can Weight-Loss dietary supplements be harmful?
Weight-loss supplements, like all dietary supplements, can have adverse side effects and might interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Almost all weight-loss supplements have several ingredients that have not been tested in combination with one another, and their combined effects are unknown.
St. John’s Wort – Mood Enhancer
St. John’s wort3 (Hypericum perforatum in Latin) is a long-living, wild-growing plant with yellow flowers. Extracts of the plant have been used for centuries in efforts to treat mental disorders as well as nerve pain. In ancient times, doctors and herbalists (specialists in herbs) wrote about its use as a sedative and treatment for malaria as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites. Today, St. John’s wort is used for treating mild to moderate depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders. St. John’s wort remains among the top-selling botanical products in the United States, and many brands are now available and sold over the counter as dietary supplements.
St. John’s wort interacts with many types of drugs. In most instances, it speeds up the processes that change the drug into inactive substances, leading to a decrease in drug levels in your body.
However, St. John’s wort interacts with some drugs in other ways. For example, taking St. John’s Wort with certain types of antidepressants can cause harmful side effects. St. John’s wort also interacts with the following medications;
- Cancer drugs
- Diabetes drugs
- Drugs used to prevent seizures
- Finasteride (a drug used for prostate problems)
- Nifedipine and Verapamil
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
Tell your health care providers about any weight-loss supplements, St. John’s Wort or other supplements you take. This information will help them work with you to prevent supplement-drug interactions, harmful side effects, and other risks.
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