Phentermine: Benefits & Pitfalls for Weight Loss
Between weight loss supplements, teas, cleanses, and equipment, it can be overwhelming to decide what to add to your weight loss plan without falling into the trap of diet culture marketing. A good way to avoid the scams is to work with your doctor to explore what diet, supplements, and prescriptions may be effective or harmful to achieving your weight loss goals.
For those who seek help from their physician to kick start weight loss may come across the prescription, Phentermine. Is this prescription safe? Is Phentermine effective? Are weight loss drugs right for you? We’ve researched everything you need to know about Phentermine to help you decide if a prescription could help you on your weight loss journey, or if you should avoid Phentermine and explore other weight loss alternatives.
What is Phentermine?
Similar to amphetamine, Phentermine is a prescription medication used for appetite suppression when paired with a weight loss plan. As one of the most common weight loss prescriptions, Phentermine has been prescribed since the early 1970’s. You may have also heard of Phentermine being paired with topiramate for weight loss, also called Qsymia. Can’t seem to control your appetite? Phentermine mimics the sensation of feeling full for longer periods of time, leading to curbing your appetite.
Patients with Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa have seen positive results with reducing the instances of binge eating episodes by taking Phentermine.1 Phentermine can also be helpful for people are simply looking to manage their appetite and slim down stubborn weight they just can’t seem to lose with diet and exercise alone.
Phentermine often gets mixed up with fenfluramine, and the dangerous but popular mixture of “Fen-Phen” in the 90’s. Patients taking both fenfluramine and Phentermine began to experience heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension, in which the FDA immediately recommended patients discontinue taking fenfluramine. Luckily, these reports were not caused by Phentermine, and is generally safe to take when prescribed by a physician. Like all prescriptions, you should always discuss the risks of prescriptions with your physician.
Does Phentermine actually work for weight loss?
For many people Phentermine works effectively as a weight loss solution. Clinical studies have shown patients using Phentermine to see a 5% weight loss of their starting weight, while in some cases, seeing weight loss as high as 10% of their starting weight.2 It’s important to keep expectations low, and not expect the weight to fall off within the first week. Does long does it take to see results from Phentermine? Phentermine can take between 12-16 weeks to see significant weight loss results. If Phentermine isn’t working for you, ask your doctor about other weight loss medications such as Contrave or Saxenda which have been proven to aid in weight loss as well.2
Can Phentermine be dangerous?
There are a number of risks and side effects to taking Phentermine or other weight loss prescriptions. Phentermine has the potential to become an addictive or abused drug and should be taken with extreme care. For those who have previously or are currently struggling with drug abuse, Phentermine may not be the right weight loss solution. Along with addiction, and usually mild and uncommon, Phentermine side effects can include:3
- Increased heart rate
- Tingling or prickling feeling in hands or feet
- Dry mouth
While not all side effects are life threatening, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you begin to experience any of the symptoms above.
I'm on other medication. Is Phentermine safe for me to take?
Phentermine is not safe to take under the following conditions:
- Weight loss during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn baby, so pregnant and nursing mothers should not take Phentermine.
- People with heart issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease should seek out alternative weight loss solutions as well due to these side effects.4
If you find yourself worried about the potential side effects or are in a position where Phentermine should be avoided, your doctor may be able to provide you with recommendations for weight loss alternatives such as supplements and personalized diet changes. Phentermine isn’t for everyone, and significant weight loss goals should always be discussed with your doctor.
Can I find Phentermine over the counter?
Phentermine is not available as an over-the-counter drug and is a prescription drug that must be used only when prescribed and by and under the supervision of your doctor. A patient should never use Phentermine purchased online or that has not been prescribed directly to them by their primary care physician.
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