When people realize managing their weight has become an issue and seek the help of their doctor the GP will normally provide advice on diet and exercise, but is unlikely to prescribe any form of weight loss medication unless the patient is severely obese (BMI 30+). Even then the choices of approved weight loss mediations are very limited in the UK, so any prescription provided is likely to be for Xenical (fat blocker) or Phentermine (appetite suppressant).
In all probability, the prescription will bear the name “Phentermine” because appetite suppressants help people to cut down on the amount of food they eat. Fat blockers impose no such restrictions; they only block a percentage of the calories provided by dietary fats. However, it is important to be aware both medications are designed to be used as part of an overall weight management routine. The prescribing doctor will give provide recommendations and guidelines for the necessary lifestyle changes.
Phentermine & Weight Loss
Phentermine is a powerful appetite suppressing drug that can deliver good results, but it is closely related to amphetamine and can be similarly addictive. It can also cause side effects, so Phentermine is only approved for the short-term treatment of obesity—generally no more than three to six weeks and certainly no more than 12.
Like all appetite suppressants, Phentermine works by lessening the desire for food, thereby helping the user to feel satisfied with smaller portions at mealtimes and reducing the temptation to snack. The fact that weight gain has occurred in the first place proves past and present eating habits have caused the body to be flooded with more calories than it needs, forcing it to store those extra calories as fat. Reducing the amount of food consumed each day can be one of the biggest challenges dieters face. Phentermine can provide them with the extra help they need and it achieves this by triggering a condition known as the fight or flight response.
Fight or flight is part of the human genetic makeup. During times of danger the body starts to produce certain hormones that can help ensure its continued survival. Adrenalin is released, to improve alertness and provide extra energy to run or fight, while other hormones (serotonin, dopamine, cortisol) suppress the appetite to ensure feeling of hunger cannot become a dangerous distraction. In many ways Phentermine could be seen as being a chemical trickster that misleads the body into supressing the appetite even though no danger is present.
However, the method of action is not perhaps so important as the results. The powerful appetite suppression Phentermine provides helps the user to be satisfied by less food and consume fewer calories per day—much less than the body requires (typically 2,000 – 2,500 cals per day). This deficit of calories forces the body to look for an alternative source of fuel and fat burning is initiated.
The dosage will always be at the GP’s discretion, but typical Phentermine doses usually range from 15 – 37.5mg. Sometimes the capsules are taken once per day (in the morning) but it is also possible to take Phentermine up to three times per day (before meals). Again the timing of the dose will vary according to the prescribing doctor’s instruction.
Potential for Side Effects
Apart from the risk of addiction, Phentermine usage can also carry the risk of a number of side effects.
Phentermine-related side effects may include:
- Changes in bowel movement (diarrhoea/constipation)
- Itchy or irritated skin
- Problems with the balance and/or walking
- Reduced sex drive
- Inability to maintain an erection
- Sleep problems
- Changes to the state of mind
- Dry mouth
- Strange or unpleasant tastes in the mouth
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Swollen legs or feet
- Difficulty catching the breath
Is Phentermine the Best Option?
Doctors are highly trained individuals who know what they are doing, so if your GP issues a Phentermine prescription it is because their knowledge and experience leads them to believe this is the best option. However, when it comes to weight loss medications, the choices available in the UK are extremely limited. GPs can only work with what they have got. Some of the better quality weight loss supplements are capable of equalling, and in some cases bettering, the results of Phentermine and can do so without the same encumbrance of side effects. It is entirely possible that some people may find a quality supplement to be a better option than Phentermine. Others, who need to lose weight but are unable to obtain a prescription, will have no other option but to choose an alternative. Phentermine is a powerful drug, but it is not by any means the only option available.