11 Dangerous Ingredients in Over the Counter Diet Pills

Many people have been drawn to the promises of quick weight loss with the intake of over the counter diet pills. This seems like a convenient way to lose those excess pounds without experiencing the hunger pangs of a crash diet, and the exertion and pains that come with a strenuous workout. However, these diet pills – many of which are being sold in small health stores – may contain dangerous substances that can cause life-threatening effects. So, the next time you think of buying over the counter diet pills, check the label first for these dangerous ingredients.

1. Ephedra

Because of the harmful effects of ephedra, the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been drawn toward the potential dangers posed by over the counter diet pills. Ephedra is known to induce increased heart rate and palpitations, making you susceptible to developing heart attack or stroke.

2. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)

PPA is known more as an ingredient in cold, cough and antiallergy drugs. As a diet pill, PPA is an appetite suppressant. It increases the risk for hemorrhagic stroke.

3. Phenytoin

Although primarily an anticonvulsion medication, phenytoin possesses appetite suppressant effects. However, phenytoin is found in much higher doses in diet pills, and it may trigger allergic reactions (rash) and cause constipation, slurred speech, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, tremors, motor impairment, swollen lymph nodes and jaundice.

4. Sibutramine

Touted to be a safer alternative to ephedra, sibutramine has been found to cause an even wider variety of adverse effects, including digestive problems (abdominal pain, nausea, hyperacidity, indigestion, constipation, increased appetite), respiratory symptoms (nasal and sinus inflammation, exacerbation of coughs, sore throat, dry mouth), skin symptom (rash), neurological symptoms (dizziness, headache, depression, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia) and dysmenorrhea. Like ephedra, it also causes high blood pressure, palpitations and tachycardia, increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. It also induces epileptic seizures.

5. Guar Gum

The swelling of guar gum in the gastrointestinal tract creates a false sensation of fullness. However, this swelling increases the risk of obstruction in the throat and stomach.

6. Bitter Orange

Like ephedra, bitter orange induces tachycardia and palpitations, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. Bitter orange can also cause seizures.

7. Fenproporex

A type of stimulant, fenproporex has been found to convert into amphetamine inside the body. It may cause chest pains, headaches and insomnia. Other side effects include drowsiness and suicidal thoughts.

8. Bumetanide

Its weight loss action is attributed to its diuretic effect. However, bumetanide induces rapid heart rate and increases the risk for stroke or heart attack.

9. Rimonabant

Developed in Europe, rimonabant is not approved by the FDA. Acting on the brain, it increases the risk of depression and suicidal ideation.

10. Phenolphthalein

An appetite suppressant, phenolphthalein is a known carcinogen. It increases the risk for tumor growth.

11. Grapefruit Extracts

Grapefruit extracts in diet pills have been known to cause harmful interactions with drugs such as astemizole, atorvastatin and sildenafil. Some major side effects include high blood pressure, seizures, diarrhea and kidney problems.


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