Amberen - totally safe?

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You might not have heard of this medication because the manufacturer just started advertising it.  They claim weight loss as it, they claim, balances the hormones which (sic) cause the midlife weight gain in women.

They are not forth coming at all, on their website about the ingredients so I requested a chat with the company representative.  He did list the ingredients for me, emphasizing the product is "soy free", "gluten free" and "no known side effects" (although they do caution anyone with a health condition to consult their medical provider before adding this medication.)

A couple of ingredients jumped out at me because they didn't sound "right".

Ammonium Succinate.

My experience has been that anything with "Ammonium" in it should be avoided, even deodorant. However, I did Google it.

Ammonium Succinate is an ingredient used in, are you ready for this, pesticides! And one website did list it as not only a poison but something which can pollute the environment!

Another troubling ingredient of Amberen is Titanium Dioxide. According to the International Cancer Research agency, this chemical was classified as a class 2 carcinogen (causes cancer) and reported on in a study in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2006. The study did not study eating it but only from workers breathing in the dust.  I wonder what the biochemical company was thinking in adding this to their witches brew.

So much for the manufacturer's claim that their medication is "totally safe".

The list of ingredients of Amberen are:

Red pill: Ammonium Succinate, Calcium Disuccinate, Monosodium L-Glutamate, Glycine, Magnesium Disuccinate Hydrate, Zinc Difumarate Hydrate, Tocopherol Acetate. Amberen

White pill: Inactive Ingredients: Gelatin, Rice Flour, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Titanium Dioxide, Riboflavin, Carmin, Water.

Dosage is apparently one of each pill per day.  The claim is that it "works with" the hypothalamus and adrenal glands to balance the hormones during menopause. <sic>

But although it's a new product, there are already a lot of complaints on a menopause review website that it doesn't work as claimed.  Even to balance the hormones.

The TV ads push it as a weight loss pill. The Amberen website claims a backing of many clinical studies but the studies don't seem related to their particular "blend" of chemicals.

None of the studies talk about any weight loss and especially, as they claim, specific weight loss in the abdomin.  One blogger said that, in all his research, he could find no support whatsoever for any of their claims about Amberen.

He quipped, "Ok, so now they're "smart molecules." What exactly does that mean? This sounds like hype to me. If their proprietary ingredients are patented why not disclose them? After all it's not a pharmaceutical, it's a supplement."

Amberen is not cheap especially if you double it up as one disgrunted client tried on the menopause review website.

Looking at the other ingredients of Amberen:

We all know MSG which is included in the ingredients, is less than good for you to consume.

 Glycine is used to treat schizophrenia among other things, writes It's mostly safe, the website continues but should be avoided in pregnancy because not much is known about the long term side effects.

Magnesium Disuccinate Hydrate is "likely safe" in small quantities (WebMd) but of course, Amberen does not tell us how much is in the drug. In large quantities, it is toxic, we are warned.  It's listed as the 3rd ingredient in Amberen so who knows how much of it is in Amberin.

Does it work to cause weight loss?

Most of the effectiveness of this drug will be the placebo effect i.e. if you think the pill is killing your appetite, you might (temporarily) have less appetite.  The placebo effects works up to 80% of the time - pharmaceuticals admit most medications are 30% or less effect.

Since it's got a lot of stimulant in it, it might make your heart beat faster, slightly raising your metabolism but that's not going to do a whole lot in losing weight.

And you have to keep taking the medication to have any effect at all.  As for long term side effects, as above noted there are a couple of chemicals in the preparation which are considered toxins.

Bottom line - to lose weight (and keep it off) you have to count your calories every day and exercise at least a half hour or more.  You have to do that for life.  There is no easy way out of obesity.  Even those who have had surgery for weight loss have to count their calories and exercise or they gain it back... unless the surgery makes them ill (and being ill is a terrible way to lose weight - anyone who has been there will tell you it isn't worth it!).

Hopefully  this medication will be off the market soon because of false claims as well as questionable ingredients, but in the meantime, if someone offers you some of this, I suggest you run the other way!