Earning a Patch
Fucus Vesiculosus Skin Patches for Dieters
by Erica Morrison
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While surfing the net in search of weight loss aids, one may soon come to the dermalife homepage. Here, along with various products for acne, bust firmness, and fat burning, the web site introduces the "NEW Derma Lifepatch" for losing weight. The active ingredient in this patch is taken from a brown alga called fucus vesiculosus or bladder wrack. The main ingredient used from fucus vesiculosus is iodine which stimulates the thyroid gland to speed up metabolism. In this essay, I would like to examine the value of this substance in terms of weight loss as well as possible health risks that may be associated with it. Much of the information contained herein is taken form studies on fucus vesiculosus and the thyroid gland and not on the Derma Patch specifically.A Little Background on Metabolism:
"Human energy expenditure can be understood by a division into three
components: basal or resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and the thermic effect of activity (TEA).
The stoichiometric relationships between oxygen consumption and the heat release that occurs with biologic substrate
oxidations are similar to those seen in chemical combustion. As a result, the rate of energy expenditure and substrate
oxidation can be determined by measuring heat losses (direct calorimetry) or by measuring oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide
production." RMR defines that energy which is needed for the basic maintenance of the body. The TEF is defined
as the elevation of metabolic rate occurring after food ingestion. It includes the cost of the absorption, metabolism,
and storage of the food within the body. The TEA is the energy expended with activity and exercise. When most people speak of
raising their metabolism (as in trying to lose weight) and throughout the remainder of this essay, we are mostly speaking of increasing
the activity of TEA (Pi-Sunyer, 1).
Thyroid Manipulation and Weight Loss:
The thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating the body's metabolism
(Thyroid Fed. Int'l, 1998). The body's metabolic rate is directly linked to the amount of activity of the thyroid.
If the thyroid gland hormone is enhanced by medication, the obvious result is that metabolism is increased. Thus, the
body is able to burn more calories quicker and less are deposited as fat. Sadly, people suffering from eating disorders have discovered
this relationship as well. Anorexics with hyperthyroidism often neglect to take their medication because they do not want to reverse
the extreme weight loss caused by an overactive thyroid gland.
How the Derma Patch Works on the Thyroid Gland:
The Derma Patch as well as some other weight loss drugs contains fucus
vesiculosus as its active ingredient. Fucus vesiculosus, or fucus for short, is a brown alga that is found on the North
Sea coast, the western Baltic coast, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Medical Econ., 1998). Fucus contains many extracts, the
most important of which is iodine. The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormone. Thus, if iodine levels are increased
in the body, as the patch aims to do, the net effect may be an increase in thyroid hormone
produ ction leading to increased metabolism
(American Thyroid Assn., 1996). This increase in metabolism has the potential to initiate weightless without a
change in a dieter's eating habits. It is this last point that makes fucus products so appealing to people who want to lose weight without
giving up their favorite foods. However, because of the lack of unbiased clinical research on fucus
as an agent for losing weight, it is not fully clear if the amount in the Derma Patch is significant enough to produce any noticeable
effect on the metabolism. Furthermore, in a study done on different treatments of obesity in hypertensive patients, the
group which was given a combination of diet+spiruline+fucus+gelatin did not lose any weight over a twelve week
period (Monego et al., 1996)
As with most things in life, the perceived benefits of a fucus containing
product do not come without a cost. Stimulating the thyroid gland by an increased production of thyroid hormones could result
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the overactive thyroid gland lead to symptoms of nervousness,
irritability, increased perspiration, thinning of the skin, fine brittle hair, weight loss despite a good appetite, amenorrhoea,
and muscular weakness especially involving the upper arms and thighs. Dosages of 150g iodide/day, depending on the individual,
carry with them the danger of induction or worsening of hyperthyroidism (Medical Econ., 1998).
Although each patch contains only 12 mg of fucus, someone with a family
history of thyroid disease may find that using the patch induces thyroid disorder in herself/himself. The patch might
also be dangerous for people with diabetes or heart problems.
Anyone considering taking any type of weight loss product should always
consult their physician about the product an the risks involved for them before taking. This rule is especially important
when taking a medication like fucus which operate to alter the body's hormonal and metabolic balance. The Derma Patch uses a
smaller concentration of a natural ingredient which acts in the same way as the FDA banned Triax (Haase, A,1999). Since unbiased
medical examinations of this product are currently very few, it is difficult to be entirely certain of its safety or effectiveness.
Taking a risk on the effectiveness of the Derma Patch at about thirty dollars a month is one thing. Risking your health
by taking it may prove to be far more expensive.
1.) Dermalife (no date). Derma Patch (online). Available: http://www.dermalife.com/
2.) Franklyn, J.A. (1999). Thyroid disease and its treatment: short- and long- term consequences. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians London 33(6), 564-7.
3.) Garner, D.M., Garfinkel, P.E. (Eds) (1997). Handbook of Treatment for Eating Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press.
4.) Haase, Ashley (1999, November 12). FDA Warns Against 'Metabolic Accelerator.' The Washington Post. pgA05.
5.) Medical Economics Co. (1998). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics.
6.) Monego ET, Peixoto M do R, Jardim PC, Sousa AL, Braga VL, Moura MF (1996). [Different therapies in the treatment of obesity in hypertensive patients]. Archives of Brazilian Cardiology 66 (6), 343-7.
7.) Pi-Sunyer, FX (no date). Modifiers of Metabolism: Overnutrition, Undernutrition, and Disease States. NIH Workshop: The Role of Dietary Supplements for Physically Active People.
8.) The American Thyroid Association (1996). Hyperthyroidism (online). Available: http://www.thyroid.org/patient/brochur4.htm.
9.) Thyroid Federation International (1998). Important Information for Thyroid Patients (online). Available: http://www.thyroidfederation.com.
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