Phentermine is a prescription drug that helps in weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant. In this article, the drug’s working is explained in a nutshell.
If you have been prescribed phentermine, as a part of your weight loss program, it is but natural to be curious about how it works. Every drug is meant to subtly modify normal functioning of the body, for the purpose of treating a medical disorder. Obviously, it comes with its share of risks and side effects, along with benefits. So, it’s best to know about them, before going ahead.
What is Phentermine?
Phentermine is an abbreviation of ‘Phenyl Tertiary Butylamine’. Chemically, it is known as 2-methyl-1-phenylpropan-2-amine. It is a schedule IV drug in United States of America, which means that it falls in the category of a controlled substance. It can be administered orally, intravenously, or through insufflation. It received approval from the FDA, in 1959, as an anorectic or appetite suppressant, for short term obesity treatment. It is sold under various trade names like Fastin, Adipex, and Ionamin.
The ‘Food and Drug Administration’ recommends that phentermine should be strictly used as very short term treatment, that is about 12 weeks or less. The weight loss treatment should be wholesome and should include exercise, as well as dieting. This drug should not be consumed by people affected with glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure, or those who have an overactive thyroid gland. Also, its dosage should not be accompanied with other weight loss medications.
There have been certain reported side effects of phentermine, which you should know about. The drug may cause side effects in the form of constipation, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, and increase in blood pressure.
How Does it Work to Aid Weight Loss?
Appetite suppressing drugs like phentermine work by stimulating the body’s natural hunger control mechanism. Hunger can be controlled indirectly, through the action of certain hormones and neurotransmitters (also known as catecholamines) like epinephrine or adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinephrine or noradrenaline. Catecholamines are hormones that are released by the adrenal glands, which initiate a flight or fight response in the body. They are naturally released in times of stress and prepare the body for physical action. An indirect effect of their secretion is the suppression of hunger.
Phentermine stimulates the secretion of norepinephrine in particular, which causes a reduction in hunger. It also stimulates adrenaline secretion causing a break down in stored fat. However, the prime mechanism that helps in weight loss is the reduction of hunger. Subsequently, the person eats less and that helps in weight loss, when combined with regular exercise and dieting. However, it does come with its share of side effects, which I mentioned before. They are all a result of the ‘Fight or Flight’ response, initiated by the secretion of catecholamines.
Due to its pronounced side effects, phentermine obviously cannot be used for a long time. The artificial control on hunger, achieved through this drug, is temporary and unless the urge to eat is voluntarily controlled, it will lead to a regaining of weight. So, many medical practitioners advise caution regarding the use of this drug. A planned dieting program, combined with regular exercise is a better option for weight loss. There is no easy way out.