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Diet Pills, Laxatives and Dangerous Methods

Many people use an assortment of dangerous over-the-counter medications while in the clutches of their Eating Disorder, all of which present great dangers whether taken "as directed" or in excess.

Diet Scams

There are many Diet Scams out there that claim "quick and easy weight loss"... most of them don't work, and in addition can contain harmful chemicals and mixtures of substances that could put you at serious health risks. Don't be fooled by products claiming to be "All Natural" - Herbal formulas and medicines are not regulated by the FDA/Government and may not even contain what the labels say they do. They can also have too much of a vitamin, mineral or herb, or a dangerous combination of all three (that can be toxic to your system). More often they claim to "work miracles" that are just flat out not true!

Links About Diet Scams:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FTC Consumer Alert on E-Mail Scams

Diet Pills

These range from common over the counter appetite suppressants such as phenylpropanolamine, caffeine pills and ephedrine hydrochloride (ephedrine is not an appetite suppressant, though often misused as one - commonly referred to as "white crosses" or "mini thins") to prescription medications like Redux and Phen/Fen. There are a wide variety of diet pills on the market that are available, many of them have addictive qualities, and some even contain small amounts of laxative.

Diet pills, both over-the-counter and prescription, (as recommended, continuously, or in excess) can cause the following: nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, high blood pressure, fatigue and hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias and palpitations, congestive heart failure or heart attack, stroke, headaches, dry mouth, vomitting and diarrhea or constipation, intestinal disturbances, tightness in chest, tingling in extremities, excessive persperation, dizziness, disruption in mentrual cycle, change in sex drive, hair loss, blurred vision, fever and urinary tract problems. Overdoses can cause tremors, confusion, hallucinations, shallow breathing, renal failure, heart attack and convulsions.

Prescription diet pills like the new and popular Phen/Fen (phentermine/fenfluramine) should never be taken without the written prescription of a doctor. There is an ongoing debate about their effectiveness, and all the health risks and benefits should be weighed. It should only be used in cases of extreme obesity. In addition to the health risks above, taking Phen/Fen increases your chances of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, which is a disease that attacks the lungs, has a poor prognosis, and is fatal. Please Read the special announcement on the dangers of Phen/Fen and its link to valvular heart disease!

Caffeine pills and/or Ephedrine Hydrochloride should never be taken for weight control, and should not be taken continuously. Ephedrine is a medication used occassionally to treat asthma, but more commonly allergies and hayfever - it is a bronchial dialator. Both can cause all the side effects as diet pills, with an increased risk of addiction (both physical and psychological), headaches, high blood pressure and heart palpitations and arrhythmias, including heart attack. Ephedrine use can contribute to psychosis, anxiety and depression.

What is Ephedrine
Dangers of Ephedra

It is also important to keep in mind that any medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, can interract with other medications causing adverse effects, or decreasing the effectiveness of one or both.


Pills or liquid, herbal or otherwise, laxative abuse is a common form of "weight control" in people suffering with Eating Disorders. The use of laxatives as a way to lose or control weight is not only dangerous, but irrational. The actual purpose of taking a laxative is to stimulate the large bowel to empty, which occurs only after the food and it's calories for energy have been absorbed through the small intestines. Essentially, a person taking laxatives to control weight is only going to cause their body to lose fluid, which can potentionally be followed by periods of water retention and an appearance of bloating (causing the sufferer to want to lose more weight and ingest more laxatives). The reason people suffering from eating disorders seem to lose weight while taking laxatives is because in most cases they are increasingly watching calorie intake and restricting food consumption, inducing vomiting, and/or compulsively exercising.

Continued laxative use can cause bloating, cramping, dehydration, electrolyte disturbances and imbalances, cardiac arrhythmias, irregular heart beat and heart attack, renal problems, and death.

Phenolphthalein, a popular ingredient previously found in many brands of laxatives has now been recalled by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, United States) due to studies indicating that it has been linked to cancer.

Withdrawal symptoms can be expected in stopping the use of laxatives after a continued period of using them as a "weight loss" method. These include, abdominal cramping, mild to severe constipation, bloating, mood swings and general feelings of fatigue and "feeling sick." In less severe cases the symptoms will usually subside in about 2 weeks, but in cases where a person have ingested handfuls or more laxatives on a regular basis, it may take longer and require medical assistance.


Sufferers of Eating Disorders sometimes use diuretics as a way to attempt controlling their weight. Again, this is dangerous and irrational. Diuretics work on reducing water retention, and only decrease the amount of water in the body... this can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances and specifically potassium deficiencies that can result in hospitalization. Continued use can lead to long and short-term fluid retention even when the diuretics are discontinued.

Ipecac Syrup

The use of Ipecac Syrup can cause instant death! Using Syrup of Ipecac for anything other than its purpose (to induce vomitting in cases of accidental poisoning, or drug overdose) causes systemic toxicity which can cause weakness, tenderness and stiffness of muscles, cardiac disease and heart failure, coma, seizures, shock, increase in blood pressure, with possible hemorrhage, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia and death.

This cumulative effect (taking it more than once, for reasons other than its indications) can increase the possibility of serious adverse effects, and if ipecac fails to produce vomitting, patients should go to the hospital IMMEDIATELY.

Please Also See Signs and Symptoms


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