No prescription-strength drug or nutritional supplement can enable weight loss without the aid of diet and exercise. However, several products may augment the effects of a reasonable weight loss regimen. Over-the-counter weight loss pills can help women lose weight when they are used conscientiously under the guidance of a qualified health care provider. Consult your physician before beginning any weight loss program, particularly if you have a medical condition or take any form of medication.
Alli, also known as orlistat, is the only over-the-counter diet pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. Alli is a low-dose version of the prescription drug Xenical, which works by blocking the absorption of fat in the digestive tract. Although Alli is generally regarded as safe, the Mayo Clinic notes that the FDA is investigating possible cases of liver damage associated with it. As a precaution, it is prudent to consult your primary health care provider before using Alli if you have a history of liver disease or digestive problems.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract has been consumed for more than 5,000 years for medicinal purposes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The UMMC reports that this popular product can help to improve weight loss and weight maintenance in women who are moderately overweight or obese. Scientists attribute green tea's fat-burning properties to powerful antioxidant compounds known as catechins. Most of the side effects associated with green tea extract relate to its high caffeine content. Health care providers may recommend caffeine-free formulations for people who are sensitive to stimulants.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Also known as CLA, conjugated linoleic acid occurs naturally in meats, cheeses and certain plant-based oils. The Mayo Clinic reports that CLA may help to enable weight loss by reducing body fat and enabling muscle genesis. In general, CLA causes relatively few side effects; however, the Mayo Clinic notes that there is insufficient evidence to conclusively prove its safety or efficacy.
The desert cactus hoodia gordonii has become increasingly popular as an over-the-counter diet pill for women. The San bushman tribe of South Africa traditionally chewed hoodia to defeat hunger pangs during famines and long journeys. In modern naturopathy, hoodia may be used to suppress the appetite and curb the urges associated with binge eating disorder. Despite its historic reputation as a safe, effective product, the Mayo Clinic warns that there is little evidence of hoodia's relative benefits or risks.
Chitosan is a form of porous marine fiber derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans. These products may enable weight loss by reducing the absorption of fat in the intestines, but there have not been enough well-designed studies to conclusively evaluate its effectiveness. Fortunately, chitosan generally causes few serious side effects. Do not take chitosan if you are allergic to shellfish; it may cause a life-threatening allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.