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    Supplements for Weight Loss

    Guar Gum

    This comes from the seed of the guar plant. Like other dietary fibers, it may prevent fats from being absorbed into your body and helps you feel full.

    Guar gum has been studied much more than other fibers for weight loss, and most researchers say it's not effective.

    Natural Medicines agrees and rates guar gum as "possibly ineffective."

    Side effects may include:

    • Gas
    • Diarrhea

     

    Hoodia

    This is a plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert in Africa. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the stem of the root was traditionally used by Bushmen to cut their hunger and thirst during long hunts. It's now marketed as an appetite suppressant.

    Hoodia contains P57, an ingredient that's said to curb appetite by helping you feel full. But there's no credible evidence that it's safe or effective.

    Natural Medicines says it lacks evidence to rate whether hoodia works.

    7-Keto-DHEA

    This is found naturally in your body. It may help you lose pounds by boosting your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day.

    In a couple of small studies, people who took 7-keto-DHEA -- along with moderate exercise and a reduced-calorie diet -- lost significantly more weight than those who were given a placebo (a dummy pill). But Natural Medicines says there still isn't enough reliable evidence to rate how well it works.

    A decrease in blood count has been reported after taking 7-Keto-DHEA for a week. Scientists are not yet sure what this can mean for the person taking the supplement.

    Ephedra

    This is an herb that's also known as ma huang. This is a different plant from a related species that grows in North America. Ephedra contains the stimulant ephedrine.

    It is very closely related to these manmade compounds found in some drugs:

    • Pseudoephedrine
    • Phenylpropanolamine

    The FDA banned supplements with ephedra after the herb was linked to serious side effects, including:

    • Heart attack
    • Arrhythmia
    • Stroke
    • Psychosis
    • Seizures
    • Death

    The FDA's ban doesn't apply to traditional Chinese herbal remedies or to products such as herbal teas.

    According to the FDA, there is little evidence that the herb helps except for short-term weight loss. The agency says the health risks outweigh any benefits.

    Natural Medicines says ephedra is "likely unsafe."

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