Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cactus Fiber May Fight Obesity

Today, there are three new, or relatively new, FDA approved obesity drugs on the market that were developed for long term use. The drugs are Qsymia, Belviq and  Contrave. Orlistat, another long term use obesity drug, has been on the market longer than the other three, gaining FDA approval in 1999. Orlistat has a prescription form called Xenical, and an over the counter form called Alli. Alli gained FDA approval in 2007. Orlistat works by preventing about 25 percent of the fat you eat from being digested. The fat, instead, passes out of the body with bowel movements, causing weight loss. And cactus fiber may be capable of aiding in weight loss using the same mechanism.

A study published in the December issue of "Current Therapeutic Research" indicates that  cactus fiber can prevent the digestion of an appreciable amount of fat. In the randomized double blind 45-day study, healthy adults were fed cactus fiber. The researchers concluded that cactus fiber was able to "significantly promote fecal fat excretion in healthy adults." More specifically, the researchers indicated that "cactus fiber helps in reducing body weight by binding to dietary fat and increasing its excretion, thus reducing dietary fat available for absorption."

It should be noted, as the study indicates, that Orlistat and substances that work like Orlistat cause side effects. They cause gastrointestinal problems, including  increased bowel movement, "soft stools, fatty oils evacuation, and oily spotting..." But while there are side effects associated with Orlistat and similar substances, the side effects are not as severe as those associated with other obesity drugs.
Obesity drugs, in the past, have caused serious side effects for various users. The most infamous example was the obesity drug Fen-phen. Fen-phen caused heart related problems in some users. Fen-phen consisted of two drugs, Fenfluramine and Phentermine. Fenfluramine caused the heart related problems, and in 1997, the FDA requested that Fenfluramine be taken off the market. American Home Products took the drug off the market, and Fen-phen ceased to exist.
Meridia, another FDA approved obesity drug, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, exposed users to side effects such as headaches, high blood pressure and constipation. Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, asked the FDA to have Meridia taken off the market. Meridia is no longer sold as a weight lost drug.
While Orlistat, cactus fiber, and similar substances have their own set of side effects, these substances might be worth considering. At the very least, weight loss service providers should monitor research related to these substances. 


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