The Active Ingredients Are More Pills and More Problems

The Active Ingredients Are More Pills and More Problems

Buying diet pills is like getting bottles of medicine from your doctors. Similar aspects to the two are instructions, warning labels and a list of side effects on stickers and paper bags. However, diet products have a few twists to their story: Most of the dietary supplements don’t have the “not evaluated/approved by the Food and Drug Administration” and they can perform a few side effects that are not mentioned on the bottles. That is a problem for American consumers who are now facing the facts about them. After reading Michael Specter’s “Miracle in a Bottle”, I have decided to research more on the dietary supplements and its health related issues that happened to people before and after the 2004 release of the article. To me, reading “Miracle in a Bottle” is like I am reading a discussion on the controversy of the diet product industry, not only the short information on the heath related issues. The health-related issues are my main concern while reading this article.

Michael Specter’s article discusses the popularity and the order gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) online  controversy on an American consumer’s obsession with dietary supplements. The key highlights in this article were: Specter’s trip to Cornerstone plus interviews along with a tour of the entire lab, the health problems due to the consumption of dietary supplements, the political cartoons for entertainment, and the fact that he likes to make fun of the diet pill product Zantrex-3, created by Zoller Labs and Cornerstone. One thing I’ve found in this article is that Specter did not go into further depth of each dietary supplement banned by the FDA. He shortens the information into one or two paragraphs focusing on one or two products. It leads me to these questions that will, unfortunately, give more answers than what I can take: What are some of the negative effects of dietary supplements, including Zantrex-3? How have people been hurt by them after their intake of pills and other supplements?

Personally, most of the American consumers believed that there are easy ways to lose weight without going to the gym and eating a variety of healthy foods. For some reason, some weight loss pills don’t necessarily work for anybody over the 200 lb limit, which is surprising for some people. The answer is this: only a tiny U.S. population has stopped taking dietary supplements completely due to various reasons besides their current health problems. Reasons: negative side-effects from a product; they have come to realize that not everything has an easy way out from their situation; some of the products already bought were either bogus or harmful. You can find any dietary supplement at your store – Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, GNC, Wal-Mart, any store you can think of that has the “medical” aisle. From my experience, I don’t know anybody who has taken diet pills, but I have seen groups of people buying them in high numbers.

Many years ago when I was shopping at Pathmark with my mother, there was a full-figured woman carrying a basket was buying diet pills and a six-pack of chocolate protein milkshakes. I was a child and I didn’t understand it. Ten years later, Specter’s article has given me the overview on it and it made me look back. About the health related issues from diet pills, the main targets are the “active ingredients”. One of the active ingredients is Ephedrine, which is said to help with short term memory loss, a stamina increase, and a dramatic weight loss. The drawback is that when Ephedrine and caffeine are combined, it becomes ephedra which is with the chemicals and other herbs to make diet pills. The ingredient ephedra increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke tachycardia, palpitations, anxiety, psychosis, and death (Specter; p. 68).

The controversy behind it is that there were a number of deaths, including Steve Belcher of the Baltimore Orioles, who died in 2003 after taking an over-the-counter supplement that contained the ingredient ephedra. According to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), ephedra was one of the supplements that carried a safety caution provided by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s been regulated with over-the-counter medicines since 1983. NCCAM studies show that it contained GHB, GBL, and BD (gamma hydroxybutyric acid; gamma butyrolactone; 1, 4-butanediol). This study was done months in advance before the FDA announced that they will ban any diet product containing ephedra before it lands in stores nationwide. (HHS Press Release; December 30, 2003). Other supplements that carry safety cautions are Kava, PC SPES and SPES (Viagra), Aristolochic acid, Comfrey, and St. John’s Wort. L-Tryptophan carried them too, but it was banned almost 20 years ago due to the eosinophilic-myalgia syndrome, or the EMS outbreak, causing thousands of people to get sick and/or causing deaths from taking medicine containing this amino acid.

Since Specter’s article mentions Zantrex-3, I have done my research on that product and why he likes to make fun of it. Zantrex-3 was created by Zoller Labs and Cornerstone. Some of the side effects of this popular product are nausea, cold sweats, relentlessness, anxiety, stomachache, a loss of appetite, and some caffeine addictions. Thanks to new technology, anybody (medical professionals, writers, etc.) can make websites that consumers of diet products can place their reviews on Zantrex-3 and other products – from short reviews to very long reviews. Sites such as Fitness Infomercial Review and Diet Review carry mixed reviews of diet products from pills to protein shakes. These reviews have the “yes-no-maybe so” for anybody who wanted to try out Zantrex-3. Reviews like this can confuse a future diet product consumer up to a point where he/she has to try it or ignore it until next time. Its costs range from 20 to 50 dollars a bottle, which I have found it completely ridiculous.

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