At any given time and in any given magazine there they are. The burning image of a sexy, ripped couple enjoying life with a bottle of some magic elixir they take to take to get results. This is the diet industry, a $20 billion dollar industry with over 100 million Americans buying diet pills and other supplemental aids. Obviously, we haven’t learned much. This new crop of “natural” supplements derived from plants, seeds, and berries are still just as dangerous. Heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting, mood swings, or even a heart attack can result from diet pills. Yet we still keep buying them.
Here’s what you need to know of a few trendy and popular supplements:
Green Tea Extract
Other names: Camellia thea, Camellia sinensis, CPTV, EGCG to name a few
Uses: weight loss, cancer prevention, stomach disorders
Side effects: dizziness, shakiness, nausea, not recommended for pregnant women or women who are breast feeding. In addition, green tea can affect iron absorption and anemia (this is important regarding people who have had weight loss surgery), caffeine in green tea can affect anxiety, and also affect those on blood thinners and blood clotting.
Other names: Aurantii Fructus, Aurantii fructus immaturus, Aurantii pericarpium, Aurantium, Bigarade, Bitter Orange Flower, Bitter Orange Peel, Chao Zhi Ke, Chisil, Citrus amara, Citrus aurantium, Citrus Aurantium Fruit, Citrus bigarradia, Citrus vulgaris
Uses: for topical use for skin/fungal infections, aromatherapy, can be combined with caffeine for weight loss (no evidence supports it being safer than ephedra)
Side effects: high blood pressure (bitter orange can affect the nervous system), rapid heartbeat, glaucoma, is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, not to be taken prior to surgery as it acts as a stimulant.
Other names: RK
Uses: speed-up fat metabolism, may reduce adipose (fat) tissue, in animal studies, ketones also seemed to affect the production of hormones that increase the body’s ability to burn fat. These were first made popular by Dr. Oz (he’s since been yelled at during a congressional hearing by his supplements).
Side effects: we don’t know the weight loss affects in humans or long term research on it
Other names: Brazilian Cocoa, Cacao Brésilien, Guarana Seed Extract, Guaranine, Paullinia cupana, Paullinia sorbilis, Zoom
Uses: taken as an aid to ‘burn fat’ and assist with weight loss. There is insufficient evidence linking it as a treatment for Malaria. According to WebMD, Guarana contains caffeine which works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine.
Side effects: Guarana can be safe for healthy adults. The caffeine in guarana can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, tremors, delirium, diuresis, and other side effects. It should be avoided in persons with heart conditions, pregnant women (200 mg/dL or more can increase the chances of miscarriage). Large guarana doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, pain when urinating, stomach cramps, and irregular heartbeats. People who take guarana regularly may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their usual amount.
Sources and for more information:
The Office of Dietary Supplements