You may see ads for supplements that claim they will help you lose weight. But many of these claims are not true. Some of these supplements can even have serious side effects.
NOTE FOR WOMEN: Pregnant or nursing women should never take diet medicines of any kind. This includes prescription, herbal, and other over-the-counter remedies. Over-the-counter refers to medicines, herbs, or supplements you can buy without a prescription.
There are many over-the-counter diet products, including many herbal remedies. Most of these products do not work. Some can even be dangerous. Before using an over-the-counter or herbal diet remedy, talk with your doctor.
Nearly all over-the-counter supplements with claims of weight-loss properties contain some combination of these ingredients:
There is no proof that these products help with weight loss.
Some ingredients in over-the-counter diet products may not be safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns people not to use some of them. Do NOT use products that contain these ingredients:
Nicolai JP, Lupiani JH, Wolf AJ. An integrative approach to obesity. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 38.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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