Paige's ACUTRIM WEB PAGE
paige.e.speni@vanderbilt.edu

 

 WHAT IS ACUTRIM?
Acutrim is a stimulant which has two effects on the body.  It is a decongestant and an
appetite suppressant.  The active ingredient in Acutrim is a compound called
phenylpropanolamine.  Its is an FDA approved, nonprescription appetite suppressant to be
used with a weight loss program.  The drug is initially effective in controlling excessive
eating (unc-clos.tierranet.com/phenylpropanol.htm).
 
 
WHAT DOES ACUTRIM CLAIM TO DO AND HOW?
Acutrim acts similarly to its chemical cousin amphetamine.  The phenylpropanolamine acts
on the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls the appetite, by increasing the
amount of serotonin-- the chemical that affect mood and appetite. This decreases the
appetite and increases the feeling of being full.  Like all stimulants, it increases heart rate
and blood pressure (www.phys.com/b_nutrition/02solutions/08diet/phenylprop.htm &
www.clos.net/aaceobesity.htm).   This supposedly can assist weight loss by increasing
weight loss by about an additional five percent by taking 25 milligrams thirty minutes
before eating three times a day, or by taking 75 milligrams of a slow-release formula every
morning (unc-clos.tierranet.com/phenylpropanol.htm).
 
 
 WHAT ARE THE CLAIMS ON EFFECTIVENESS OF ACUTRIM?
When used as part of a diet plan, it may help you lose about an extra one-quarter of a
pound each week.  But the effect will only last for the first month of your diet.  After that,
the drug has no effect on weight loss.  The weight loss may not be permanent, especially
after the drug is discontinued
(www.phys.com/b_nutrition/02solutions/08diet/phenylprop.htm).
 
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF ACUTRIM?
The most common side effects of Acutrim and the active phenylpropanolamine are
nervousness, sleeplessness, throbbing heartbeat, irritability, headache, sweating, dry
mouth, nausea and constipation (www.healthsquare.com/pdrfg/pd/monos/acutrim.htm)..
 
 
WHAT ARE THE WARNINGS ABOUT TAKING ACUTRIM?
It is seriously dangerous to take this medication while taking any antidepressant in the
chemical family called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO), such as Nardil, Marplan and
Parnate.  If you are being treated for high blood pressure, depression, or an eating
disorder, or if you have heart disease, diabetes, or a thyroid disorder, do not take Acutrim
unless you will be monitored by your doctor.  This product should not be given to children
under the age of twelve (www.phys.com/b_nutrition/02solutions/08diet/phenylprop.htm).
 
 
MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT ACUTRIM
 
 
        ACUTRIM and CAUTION!!!
        Although Acutrim’s utility for weight loss has been recognized for many years,
however the research and medical findings confirm the theory that the  active ingredient
phenylpropanolamine is not an safe or permanent means of weight loss.  An article by
Andrew Jenkins in The Journal of Physical Education briefly describes one of the dangers
of taking phenylpropanolamine.   He claims that with repeated usage the individual will
need to increase the dosage progressively in order to obtain the desired results.  With
increased dosages comes an increased risk of side effects.  Prolonged use and physical
tolerance will also be followed by withdrawal syndrome upon cessation of use.
Withdrawal symptoms can include depression, fatigue, irritability, nausea and headache
(Herbal Energizers: Speed By Another Name, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance. Reston: February, 1997, p 39-45).  The same call for caution is pronounced in
an article describing the serious risk in mixing different medications.
 
 
ACUTRIM and HEALTH RISKS        
        Over-the-counter diet pills line our shelves in grocery stores and drugstores.  They
cost about seven dollars for a thirty day supply.  “But, there is no proof that they produce
anything but temporary weight loss, despite the more than $116 million that 1.3 million
Americans spend on them each year” (Shrink Your Weight While keeping Your Wallet
Plump, Money. Chicago: February 1997, p 162-167).  Most dangerous of all, the active
drug in the over-the-counter appetite suppressants such as Acutrim contain a compound
called phenylpropanolamine which has been associated with reports of elevated blood
pressure, seizures and strokes.  A study commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration on the link between phenylpropanolamine and such ailments won’t be
released until next year.  However, the minimal benefits do not justify the potential health
risks.
 
 
ACUTRIM and COMBINING MEDICATIONS
One case reporting of the hazardous health risks associated with Acutrim and the
active ingredient phenylpropanolamine involves a 37-year-old woman who went to the
emergency room suffering from the adverse effects of two nonprescription medications.
She went to the emergency room complaining of a severe headache.  Her blood pressure
was 190/118; heart rate, 110; respiratory rate, 16; and temperature, 100.8 degrees
Fahrenheit.  All labs results were normal.  Although her skin was flushed, she was in good
health and did not smoke.  Her only prescribed medication was an oral contraceptive.  The
female patient had been trying to lose weight and bought an over-the-counter (OTC)
weight-reducing agent that contained 75mg of phenylpropanolamine in long-acting form.
At the same time, she developed a cold and began taking a cold medication which
contained pseudophedrine HCI.  The headache came on when she had already taken her
morning diet pills then proceeded to take her two doses of cold medication.  Due to her
condition, she was given nifedipine sublingually and fluids through an I.V. in the
emergency room.  Her vital signs did return to normal and she was counseled on the
dangers of mixing medications without notifying a physician.  The combination of these
two drugs put her at risk of having a stroke due to the fact that both medications increase
blood pressure.

 

 

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