The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Popular weight loss supplements reviewed

    A couple of PharmDs from Ohio have published a review of 16 weight loss supplements (and 1 drug) used to help shed excess girth.

    I’ll give just the bottom line on each supplement here.

    Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium)

    • Little evidence supporting its use.
    • Can elevate heart rate and blood pressure.
    • Those with a history of cardiovascular disease should avoid it.


    • Scientific evidence does not support using this fat blocker.

    Chromium (Chromium picolinate)

    • Yes, this trace element aids in insulin secretion.
    • Few studies support its use as a weight loss aid.
    • A recent, comprehensive review concluded that it does not alter body composition.

    Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

    • Not supported for weight loss.
    • It might help attenuate weight gain in patients with a dietary deficiency of CLA


    • Although claimed to increase satiety, there is little evidence to support this claim.

    Green tea (Camellia sinensis)

    • Green tea products contain varying amounts of caffeine, which has a mild diuretic effect.
    • Some may perceive this as weight loss, but it’s only a transient loss of sodium and water.

    Guar gum (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus)

    • It’s a source of soluble dietary fiber.
    • Insufficient evidence to recommend is for weight loss.

    Guarana (Paullinia cupana)

    • Not much support for using it alone.
    • Most studies combined it with ephedra.
    • Probably should be avoided due to adverse effects on the central nervous system.


    • Popular, but little scientific support.
    • See an earlier post for more information.

    Hydroxycitric acid (Garcinia cambogia)

    • Appears to be safe.
    • Proof of weight loss in humans is lacking.


    • One study, which did not report positive results.
    • Watch for nausea or diarrhea.

    Natural licorice

    • No evidence of weight loss.

    Usnic acid

    • No evidence of effectivness
    • A report of fulminate liver failure, make this a bad choice for weight control

    White kidney bean extract (Phaseolus vulgaris)

    • Advertised as a “carb blocker” that reduces the rate that starch is converted to sugar in the digestive process, thus reducing caloric intake.
    • One study showed a positive modest response in a decrease in body mass index.

    Willow bark

    • No studies on weight loss.
    • One report of a severe reaction in a young person who was allergic to aspirin.

    Yohimbine (Pausinystalia yohimbe)

    • The 2 studies available published opposite results.
    • High blood pressure, anxiety, and agitation are side effects.

    The bottom line?
    The article provides useful background information. Read it all for greater detail

    5/19/08 19:42 JR

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