When diet and exercise don’t work quickly, it can be tempting to turn to weight loss medications to speed up the process. It sounds so easy. Take a pill and watch the pounds melt away. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple and the downside of using weight loss medications can be considerable. One commonly used medication, available over-the-counter, for weight loss is Orlistat. Orlistat was developed as a non-prescription alternative to the prescription drug Xenical. Despite the fact that this medication is freely available at most drugstores, new information suggests that it could have a serious side effect ‘” liver toxicity.
How Does Orlistat for Weight Loss Work?
Orlistat works by blocking the absorption of absorption of fat. It does this by inhibiting the action of pancreatic lipase enzymes that break down fats into simpler components that can be absorbed by the intestines. When Orlistat is present, fats are excreted rather than absorbed by the body. Although Orlistat for weight loss does appear to work, most people fail to experience dramatic weight loss with this medication.
Why Doesn’t It Work Better?
One reason why Orlistat for weight loss doesn’t cause significant weight loss for more people is that many users can’t tolerate the side effects which include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, flatulence, and fecal incontinence. Some of these Orlistat side effects can be lessened by reducing fat in the diet.
Side Effects of Orlistat
The FDA has now received more than thirty complaints about use of Orlistat for weight loss. These reports suggest that Orlistat may be associated with significant liver toxicity and damage. Although these reports are preliminary and no link between Orlistat and liver damage has been established, this information should be taken into account by anyone considering using this medication for weight loss.
Orlistat Side Effects: It’s Not for Everyone
Use of Orlistat for weight loss is only recommended for people who have a body mass index of twenty-eight or more. It’s not a drug that should be used by those who have a few extra pounds to lose. Orlistat works best when it’s used in conjunction with a low fat, healthy diet and a regular exercise plan. Like other weight loss pills, Orlistat is no miracle in a bottle.
Anyone who takes Orlistat for weight loss should be aware of the potential for liver toxicity and watch for signs of problems such as yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, itchy skin, nausea, or excessive fatigue. Many times liver toxicity can be present with few obvious symptoms, so it’s best to use Orlistat under a doctor’s care where blood studies can be checked
When taking Orlistat for weight loss, it’s also important to take a vitamin supplement containing the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K since absorption of these vitamins are reduced while on the medication.
The Bottom Line?
There’s no proven connection between use of Orlistat for weight loss and liver toxicity, but this potential risk should be taken into account before using it. Medications like Orlistat should only be used by those with a significant amount of weight to lose and who have failed diet and exercise therapy. The safest and most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is still exercise and a healthy diet