In modern medicine, many drugs and methods that help effectively fight overweight. Herewith, it is not necessarily refuse from favorite dishes and experience severe physical loads. Modern drugs for weight loss artificially reduce a person’s need for food or promote a more rapid consumption of energy in the body.

As a rule, all medications for weight loss act according to one of the guidelines:

  • Impact on the brain area responsible for appetite suppression. When using such drugs (anorexigenic drugs), the feeling of fullness comes quickly that gives the opportunity to limit the amount of consumed food and to achieve the reduction in body weight.
  • Impact on the basal metabolic rate (metabolism acceleration leads to the expenditure of more energy).
  • Removal of undigested food from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) or reduced absorption of food components.

Sympathomimetic amines

Amphetamine is the first drug with a sympathomimetic activity. Amphetamine was opened in 1930 and was originally used to treat rhinitis. It was noticed that amphetamine also contributes to weight loss.

Amphetamine is a psychoactive substance able to cause psychological dependence. Now, amphetamine is not used as an obesity treatment because of many side effects.

Sympathomimetic drugs have a psychostimulant effect, achieved by the increase of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. Due to this effect, a person stops to experience the feeling of hunger.

Sympathomimetic drugs have some side effects:

  • Migraine, dizziness
  • Tachycardia (heart rhythm disturbance)
  • Involuntary tremor of limbs
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Insomnia

Overdose of sympathomimetic drugs may cause severe complications:

  • Sharp increase in blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Excitation
  • Maniacal or mental state
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Myocardial ischemia due to coronary artery spasm, cardiac arrhythmias and stroke.


Phenylpropanolamine is a drug for vasoconstriction, affects the central nervous system. Until 2000, Phenylpropanolamine drug was used as an obesity treatment.

It is proved that all drugs containing Phenylpropanolamine lead to a high probability of stroke (cerebral hemorrhage).

Phenylpropanolamine side effects:

  • Dyspeptic phenomena (nausea, heartburn, vomiting, belching)
  • Increased irritability, aggressiveness
  • Tremor of limbs
  • Exacerbation of coronary heart disease (CHD), hypertension
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Headache


Ephedrine is an alkaloid containing in certain plant species. Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic drug i.e. it affects the nervous system and leads to the body's energy expenditure.

Ephedrine increases blood pressure, skeletal muscle tone, blood glucose level, as well as it causes heart palpitations. As these processes require more energy consumption, thus Ephedrine leads to a burning of large number of calories.

When using Ephedrine, the possibility of potentially dangerous side effects cannot be excluded (mainly in people with cardiovascular diseases).

Ephedrine is banned in many countries (the USA, Canada, and Russia). The International Olympic Committee recognized ephedrine as doping. Ephedrine abuse can lead to addiction.

Serotonergic substances

Serotonergic substances are drugs that affect serotonin reuptake and its release. Serotonergic substances are used to treat obesity, nicotine addiction, depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only Sibutramine from all variety of serotonergic drugs.

Sibutramine affects the central nervous system and through it the whole body. Patients taking Sibutramine diet pills note rapid saturation, however this drug increases blood pressure, body temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, as well as it may cause headaches, dry mouth, abdominal cramps and vomiting.

In the 90s of the last century, Dexfenfluramine and Fenfluramine drugs were used to treat obesity, but they were removed from the sales because of side effects (dangerous cardiac complications).

In the 90 years of the last century, drugs of complex effect - Fen-phen (Fenfluramine, phentermine drugs) were also popular. This combination of drugs was not approved by the FDA for obesity treatment, and in 1997 Fenfluramine was removed from production.

Means preventing the absorption of lipids in the body

Orlistat is a powerful lipase inhibitor, which has the property to disturb the process of splitting of dietary fat and to reduce their absorption from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). After the discontinuation of Orlistat pills, the fat absorption in the GIT is quickly normalized and all gastrointestinal side effects disappear. The severity of Orlistat side effects depends on the amount of fat in the daily diet.

  • Increased defecation
  • Flatulence
  • Oily discharge from the anus
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleep disorder

Along with using Orlistat pills, patients are advised to take multivitamin complexes containing vitamins A, D, K and β-carotene to prevent their possible deficits.

Chitosan is a dietary supplement made from the shells of sea crabs. Chitosan binds to fat in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents its absorption. Chitosan is often included in sport supplements intended for weight reduction.

Fiber medications

Guar gum is a polysaccharide, a natural dietary supplement used for weight loss. Guar gum is obtained from the juice of Indian acacia. Guar gum is readily soluble in cold water. In case of ingestion, Guar gum can be increased in volume by 10-20 times, creating a gelatinous fluid in the stomach.

Guar gum causes a feeling of satiety. It is believed that it is practically not absorbed in the intestine, helps to reduce appetite and very effectively reduces cholesterol level and saturated fat in the body.


In the first half of the last century, Dinitrophenol was used as official medical drug to treat obesity. In 1938, Dinitrophenol was banned because of serious adverse reactions (otitis media, skin damage, cataracts, etc.). Now, Dinitrophenol again gains popularity thanks to the Chinese producers.

Dinitrophenol pills contain a substance (DNP) with a toxic effect on the cells, which blocks the metabolic pathway associated with energy production in specific cells.

When using Dinitrophenol diet pills, the patient’s cells use a large amount of energy that may lead to side effects:

  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid pulse
  • Decrease in working capacity
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Increased body temperature to 39°C
  • Disruption of the normal stomach activity
  • Painful digestion

When taking 3-5 mg of Dinitrophenol, basal metabolism is increased by 22-35%. Increase in metabolism is maintained within 24 hours. In repeated intake of Dinitrophenol, body weight significantly decreases within 8-10 weeks.

There are also a lot of medications for weight loss:

  • Laxatives
  • Emetic drugs
  • Slimming teas

Such drugs have not found a wide application in the world. Constant use of these drugs can lead to serious complications and diseases.