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The Side Effects of Slimming Tablets

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
The Side Effects of Slimming Tablets
If you're trying to lose weight, you may want to avoid slimming tablets. Photo Credit: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you're trying to lose weight, it might be tempting to look to diet pills or slimming tablets for a little boost in your weight-loss efforts. However, in addition to being ineffective, these types of supplements may cause unwelcome side effects, such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, seizures or death, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Consult your doctor before adding a slimming tablet to your diet.

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Why the Concern?

The primary problem with slimming tablets is that they do not need to be approved by the FDA before they hit the shelves. It's up to the manufacturer to test for safety and efficacy and provide the appropriate data to back up any claims. While some manufacturers offer study data, it's usually based on one or two studies with a small sample size.

Side Effects from Common Ingredients

A slimming tablet may contain a number of different ingredients that can cause various side effects. For example, cascara is an herbal laxative found in a number of different herbal diet pills that may cause electrolyte imbalance.

Guarana is often added to these types of pills to act as a stimulant and diuretic; as a source of caffeine it may increase blood pressure. It may also cause nausea, dizziness or anxiety.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should avoid any slimming tablets that contain juniper berries, horse tail or shave grass because they can cause serious problems your health, including kidney and brain damage.

Side Effects from Hidden Ingredients

The FDA has found hidden ingredients not listed on the label in a number of over-the-counter weight-loss tablets, including prescription medications that may also cause side effects. One product contained a prescription-strength diuretic that's linked to a variety of side effects, including dizziness, bleeding gums, tarry stools and confusion.

The FDA also found products containing sibutramine, which is a prescription weight-loss medication that you can no longer get in the U.S. because it's linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Interactions with Medication

In addition to the side effects caused by the various ingredients in slimming tablets, there's also the potential for some of these ingredients to interact with medication. If you're taking a prescribed anti-depressant you should avoid any slimming tablets that contain St. John's wort.

Also, because of the potential interaction, you should not take these tablets if you're on medication for an underactive thyroid, reports Guarana also interacts with the blood-thinning medication warfarin. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before adding any dietary supplements to your daily routine.

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