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Rimonabant

By WLR Staff, by John Litchfield

Newsflash – October 2008

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Due to reports of some serious psychiatric problems and even suicide among patients taking Rimonabant (Acomplia), the European Medicines Agency recommended the suspension of prescribing this drug to obese people. Weight Loss Resources would always recommend calorie counting for weight loss and that, should you decide on using pills, that you investigate the possible side effects thoroughly.

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Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows trials of the appetite suppressant Rimonabant are continuing to show positive results in patients, even after two years of taking it.

The drug's development started after scientists discovered that the sharp increase in appetite experienced by many cannabis smokers, commonly known as "the munchies", is caused by the over stimulation of the endocannabinoid system in the brain.

By blocking chemicals called cannabinoids which can cause cravings, Rimonabant is able to stop people from feeling hungry after eating to the point of nourishment, reducing the urge to overindulge. Research shows that the drug can also help reduce desire for nicotine, sugar and alcohol.

The test patients were advised to take regular exercise and follow a reduced calorie diet.

They were then split into groups who were either given daily doses of the drug or a placebo.

On average, the group given 20mg per day lost 7.9lbs more over the two years than those taking the placebo and around 40% lost over 5% of their overall body weight, compared with 19% of the group given the dummy pills.

Patients taking Rimonabant also showed increases in HDL (good) cholesterol levels that were significantly higher than would have been caused by their weight loss alone.

So is this now the best way to lose weight?

Not necessarily. As with all diet drugs, there are potential side affects. The group taking the drug were slightly more likely to experience symptoms such as nausea, anxiousness, influenza and depressed mood disorder.

Also, most of the patients who were switched to the placebo after one year were seen to regain most of their lost weight by the end of year two, so unless taken every day over a very long period of time, it does not appear to be a permanent solution.

While the tests have shown positive results, you can comfortably and healthily lose 2lbs per week, more than the majority of the patients involved in the trial, simply by increasing activity and making sensible changes to your diet.

So like other medical methods, this should be treated as a last resort rather than the first option looked at when starting the fight to lose weight.

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