Brazilian diet pills are the talk of the town. But are they safe? Are they effective? The shortest answer for this is, no, they are not safe, and only effective for rapid weight loss in the short-term. They are actually very dangerous, and for that reason illegal in the US. But a longer answer to the question of whether all diet pills are safe or effective involves taking a look at the history of diet pills.
The first diet pills were invented in 1941, and were called Clarkotabs. They were inspired by the discovery in the 1930’s that the Benzadine inhaler that used amphetamine helped people lose weight. The Clarkotabs promised rapid weight loss by combining amphetamine and thyroid hormones, and added phenobarbital, aloin, and atropine to counteract the side effects that occurred, including insomnia, palpitations and anxiety. Thyroid hormones were used under the ruse that weight gain was not caused by poor diet or lack of exercise, but instead by problems in the thyroid.
Called Rainbow Diet Pills, these pills were sold by manufacturers only to physicians, and in this way kept the manufacturers out of the line of fire, and generated so much revenue that doctors with obesity clinics could easily have 100 patients a day. The Brazilian Diet Pills were made into different colors to be more appealing, and also to make patients believe that they were being prescribed a special color based on their weight loss regimen.
In the 1960’s these pills were banned by the FDA due to multiple fatalities that were occurring. Quickly, within a decade, they became enormously popular in Brazil and Spain. The modern version of Brazilian Diet Pills was created, combining Amphetamine, Fenproporex, Diethylpropion, laxatives, and diuretics, and adding selective serotonin, uptake inhibitors and benzodiazepines to counteract side effects.
Now, Brazilian diet pills are coming back to the United States illegally. Many people believe that Brazilian Diet Pills are not dangerous, but these are actually the same unregulated pills that caused many fatalities in the 1960’s in the US. Like in the 1940’s-1960’s, they are put in capsules of various pretty, bright colors, and are marketed as different pills that are safe for a fast weight loss diet. The key is to remember that these pills are not any different from the ones that were made 50 years ago. 5% of women taking Brazilian Diet Pills are hospitalized, and the capsule on average contain three prescription medications.
Whether they are effective is a separate question. Brazilian diet pills typically cause rapid weight loss. However, there is a very quick plateau at which the weight stops reducing. Additionally, most of the weight that is being cut out is water weight, and, as soon as the pills are stopped, the weight comes back.
One of the most important things to remember about diet pills is: All diet pills are a Rainbow Pill made into a different color of the rainbow – They are all the same. Diet pills can be divided into two categories: Those that contain amphetamine and those that contain ephedrine. Typically, all diet pills contain fenproporex, laxatives, diuretics and thyroid hormones. While time and time again proven only mildly effective for rapid weight loss and not effective at all for long-term weight loss, all of these ingredients have proven to be dangerous, and some, like amphetamine and thyroid hormones, are substances meant for treating medical illnesses.
And remember, physicians were prescribing Rainbow diet pills long before they were being sold illegally on the internet. Just because something is not yet banned by the FDA, does not mean it is safe. Even some things that are approved by the FDA have been proven to have side effects much later down the road. Do not simply choose a product because it is “clinically proven”-Raspberry Ketone is touted as clinically proven, even though that label is based off of a single, inconsistent study.
In the end, it is up to your own intuition to decide if a product is dangerous or ineffective. With diet pills, they may very well be dangerous, or they may simply be ineffective for long-term weight loss- either way they are not worth it.
Special thanks to the following articles that provided helpful information:
1) The Return of Rainbow Diet Pills by Pieter Cohen
2) Imported Compounded Diet Pill Use Among Brazilian Women Immigrants in the United States by Pieter Cohen