Drugs, such as thyroid, amphetamines, human chorionic gonadotropin, and phenylpropanolamine (an appetite suppressant), cautions Postgraduate Medicine (72#1:121), do not have any lasting effect and are therefore not useful in slimming and long-term weight control. Drugs expose one needlessly to the hazard of side effects and also involve considerable expense.
Four women, all of whom had been taking over-the-counter appetite suppressant pills containing the drug phenylpropanolamine (PPA) to lose weight, were recently admitted at various times to the same hospital with severe headache, clouding of consciousness, and inability to move parts of their bodies. A brain hemorrhage proved to be the diagnosis in every case, and the outcome was death for two of them.
PPA is similar to amphetamine and shares its ability to elevate the blood pressure (BP). In some people, PPA also injures the arteries, making them fragile and prone to leak, particularly if the BP rises above normal as well. When bleeding occurs inside the head, as it did in the four women reported by the Western Journal of Medicine (142:688), even neurosurgery may not help if many arteries are fragile and leaking.
Other brain side effects caused by PPA include anxiety, psychosis and convulsions. Furthermore, when arteries in other parts of the body are affected, the organs supplied by them will also suffer. Thus, PPA usage has been associated with abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, kidney failure, and perforation of the intestines.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of so many PPA-associated adverse reactions is that they have occurred with dosages of the drug little if any above that normally recommended for curbing the appetite.