Thursday, June 18, 2015

Garcinia Cambogia - neither effective nor safe

Weight loss supplements are many and varied.  The idea of just consuming a pill or a drink, appeals more to prospective dieters than counting calories or points and/or exercising.

One supplement I often see advertised, is Garcinia Cambogia, whose advocates are all over blogs like this one.  Whenever I post a blog here, whether about weight loss surgery or some other diet craze, I almost, invaribly, get a comment or two advocating Garcinia Cambogia and so I decided to research it a bit.

In investigating it, I found that there were concerns about how safe it was to use as well as not being effective for what they are pushing it for ... weight loss. The active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia which supposedly causes weight loss, is hydroxycitric acid, or HCA = this is also included in other weight loss supplements.

In one study, the average weight loss in folks taking Garcinia Cambogia, was 2 lbs and the researchers couldn't really say if it was the lowered calories or the supplement that caused the weight loss, but they concluded it was likely the lower calorie intake of the cohort that caused the weight loss.

Garcinia Cambogia is apparently a tropical fruit which resembles grapefruit - people who have eaten it, say it tastes good but the medical profession does not feel it's a good weight loss supplement. As for the claims of lowering the blood sugar levels in diabetics, this, again, is unproven.

One article advocates a person wishing to lose weight would be better off, buying an exercise DVD than investing in Garcinia Cambogia.  I agree there.  Although convincing people to buy Garcinia Cambogia might be a cash cow for those selling it, it appears to be a waste of time for those wanting to lose weight or control diabetes. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Diabetes drugs have gnarly side effects!

New diabetes drugs?  ... they have some gnarly side effects! 

The promos want to make it look like low sugar levels are the worst side effect of the new class of diabetes drugs - however according to drugs dot com, there is a rather long list of gnarly side effects... including .... Anxiety, bladder pain,bloody or cloudy urine, blurred vision. chills, cold sweats, coma, confusion, cool, pale skin, decreased frequency or amount of urine, depression, difficult, burning, or painful urination, dizziness, fast heartbeat, frequent urge to urinate, headache, increased hunger, increased thirst, itching of the vagina or genitals, loss of appetite, lower back or side pain, nausea, nightmares, seizures, shakiness, slurred speech, swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs, thick, white vaginal discharge with mild or no odor, troubled breathing, unusual tiredness or weakness, vomiting and weight gain.

You might want to skip this class of drugs!  The side effects seem worse than the blood sugar levels it is said to lower...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A weight loss journey with a lap band can be difficult

Melonie on the Rikki Lake show

 Melonie had a lap band in 2012 (approx) and she lost over 100 lbs in about 6-9 months. She loved her band in 2013 when she posted this video, saying it had given her a lot of restriction and was a great tool.  Would she have it again though? - even at that time she said "Probably not". She described it as "high Maintenance" - she had very tight fills (up to 7 cc) although she said she liked how you could adjust it. She also said that when she had lost her weight, she could feel her port (where a lap bander gets their "fills" to tighten or loosen the band) and that was uncomfortable - apparently she had a revision surgery to move the port but it still bothered her, she said.  

Unable to afford plastic surgery for all the loose skin, Melonie opted out to go to South America - She appeared on the Rikki Lake show, saying this had been a major mistake - they did several procedures including abdominoplasty, lower body lift and lipo suction in one 8 hour session.  And sent her home to the US with several drains and a lot of pain.

In a later video, made approx January 2014, she described a rather horrendous experience with her lap band when it slipped, causing excruciating pain and finally getting to the point where it prevented her from even drinking water.  She finally, went to the ER and they removed the band, saying that her stomach had begun to erode and that she'd made it to removal just in time...  She admitted that during her weight loss process and maintenance, she vomited a lot which is a "no no" with any weight loss surgery and especially with the lap band - vomiting can do a lot of damage including rip out internal stitches or in the case of the lap band, cause slippage.  As my weight loss surgery surgeon friend says "Measure twice, eat once, vomit never!

She did keep most of her weight off without her band although having to have it removed caused her a lot of emotional pain and in an update video, showed a body shot where she looked really good.

What folks don't understand about any weight loss surgery, is that the patient does most of the work (90% of the work, says one weight loss surgery surgeon). And that even the safer procedures can bite in the long run. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

UK teen wants gastric band but seems unaware of what she will face post surgery

A 238 lb UK teen is desperate (she writes) for a gastric band weight loss surgery because she says she's been taunted and bullied about her weight and she wants to "live a normal life" as a teenager which she apparently thinks she will be able to do after the weight loss surgery. Brook is 15 years old and says that she gained the weight eating junk food as a younger child and that her attempts at making healthy food choices have failed.

I have some concerns about this (and apparently the UK NHS has also because they have not yet, approved her for surgery).

First of all, if she gained the weight eating junk food, it's kind of a no brainer that junk food is the first thing she should give up and will have to give up if any sort of surgery or program is going to work.

Secondly, the comment that she thinks having a lap band will enable her to "live a normal life" kind of bothered me because it appears she doesn't have a concept of what weight loss surgery is and what it isn't. 

For example the release form for weight loss surgery used by several surgeons in our area includes the phrase, "you are NEVER NORMAL".

The reason her statement worries me is because the only chance she has of having success with weight loss surgery, is realizing that it is a big life change - a change in how and what she will eat and so forth. She may "look normal size" (if she abides strictly, by her surgeon's rules) but she will have restrictions and more for the rest of her life - for example, I have a hunch eating a piece of pizza with a lap band is next to impossible without the chance of it getting stuck on the way down (which is extremely painful for a couple of hours until it dissolves and/or the person is "scoped")

Pre ops should be shown exactly how life will be after surgery so that they are prepared for the fact that without dieting and exercise, their surgery will not be effective. Also, they should be made aware of the restrictions involved with any change to the digestive tract. 

As a weight loss surgery surgeon friend of mine says "Measure twice, eat once and vomit - never!" 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Big Push for Weight Loss surgery

Tom holds photo of his daughter who died shortly after her gastric bypass - parents of patients who die or become sick, suffer very much for years after

In case you haven't noticed, there has been a big push for Weight Loss surgery in the mass media.  A Fox News article announced that "diet and exercise may not be enough to lose weight" and goes on to state that the "only proven effective treatment for obesity in the long term, is surgery."  Proven?  Hardly.  While it's true that about 5% of dieters can keep off the weight, having surgery only increases that percentage by 2% i.e. 7% of bariatric patients can keep their weight off (Mayo Clinic study, Swedish Obesity study and several others).  Hardly worth reconfiguring the digestive tract in a very unnatural manner which will deny the person much of their digestive ability.

On TV, the old "Big Medicine" shows have been regurgitated under the title "My Weight is Killing Me".  This show, although more honest about how surgical patients have to diet and exercise after surgery (which works, by the way, without surgery), still portrays surgery as "the only way" for people who are clinically obese.

Another show, "My 600 lb life" produced by Dr Younan Nowzaradan, MD (a bariatric - weight loss surgery surgeon), portrays patients who are 600 - 700 lbs - all of them "need" surgery, of course, according to the show... and after they slim down with surgery to a "svelte" 400 or 500 lbs, their lives are supposedly saved.  The show seems to ignore that weights of 400 and 500 lbs are still considered clinically obese, only now after surgery, the patient is not digesting some 100 micro-nutrients (like zinc, etc) which we need on a daily basis to stay healthy.  Not withstanding the patient after a gastric bypass is also not digesting well, macronutrients like proteins and fats.

Interestingly enough, a recent show about a lady named Susan, followed her as she lost 150 lbs before surgery and then, after surgery (gastric bypass), very little more weight and very slowly.  One wonders why they didn't just tell her to go home and continue what she was doing instead of mutilating her stomach and bowel... Well, I guess that's a no brainer - the surgeon takes home $5000 bucks (at least) with every surgery.... so if s/he does five surgeries a week - that's one a day with 2 rest days, his/her weekly pay is $250,000.00!  People have done odd things for far less money than this.

Several studies including some 30 year studies on 30,000 people by the Cooper Institute, have found that it's not weight that endangers health but rather lifestyle and that anyone with a healthy lifestyle (i.e. making healthy food choices most of the time and exercising at least 5 days a week for 20 minutes or more) can live a long life even if their weight is in the obese or clinically obese range.

That being said, Dr Rudy Leibel pointed out that obesity is mostly genetic (60% genetic).  Also being from a family where several relatives were or are overweight, I can attest to the fact that most lived long healthy lives - without having their digestive tract surgically altered.

One of my husband's cousins is celebrating her 80th birthday - she has been clinically overweight all of her adult life and totally healthy (well, in her late 70's, she had a hip replacement surgery).

There are some advantages to calorie restriction - for me, my severe GERD goes into remission as long as I mildly calorie restrict but to say "everyone" needs a digestive tract which no longer works well, is not logical...  We did not get overweight because our GI tract worked and so rendering it somewhat non- functional will only add to the original problem... another no brainer.

If you are considering Weight Loss surgery, please visit this website....  (  It gives informed consent information about weight loss surgery - you will find it quite different from what you see on TV but then, remember, TV is for entertainment, not for good education!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Gastric Sleeve revisited

The sleeve gastrectomy is the popular procedure these days.  Those promoting this surgery suggest it's safer than the gastric bypass because no bowel is bypassed.  But the problem with the procedure is that in order to promote weight loss, surgeons must cut away 90-95% of the stomach, leaving a remnant about twice as long as your thumb and the same size.

True to the "conspiracy of silence" about weight loss surgery, the dark side of this procedure has been mostly not told.

But as the procedure gets more popular, the dark side is emerging.

Some patients are beginning to tell their stories and there is a very dark side to this surgery - one patient mentioned that it's very difficult to get in even the minimum of 6 glasses of water daily and describes the shock of seeing brown urine (extremely dehydrated and hard on the kidneys). 

This makes sense because this procedure retains the lower stomach valve but the tiny thumb sized stomach doesn't really conduct the peristaltic wave very well so perhaps the valve which is dependent on the muscular movement of the stomach, doesn't really work very well (probably why they did not include it in the gastric bypass).  A swallow or two fills the tiny stomach and takes a while to empty - think of the difficulty of swallowing water slowly, a swallow or two at a time and it becomes a real chore just to get even a glass or two of water in, during the day.

Additionally, the tiny stomach likely does not do much digesting of either proteins or fats (we do need some fats) or calcium or B12.

Finally, patients describe a constant and very serious case of GERD or gastric reflux and well as problems with leaks and "fistulas".  The tiny size of the stomach would also tend to cause a detention of the esophagus, a problem seen in the gastric bypass also.

If the patients keep the weight off, it's by starvation and / or dehydration and/or illness - this is anything but healthy!

Patients should realize that doing something unhealthy is not worth getting the weight off - especially as there is no reversal possible of this procedure since the part of the stomach removed is discarded
The sleeve gastrectomy is a permanent change to the stomach in other words...

Bottom line, all that glitters is not only not gold but may not even be really glittering when you live with it... Caveat Emptor - or "let the buyer beware".

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Maestro system - a v-bloc by any other name is still a v-bloc? :)

Entermedics has re-introduced in 2015, a device for weight loss which sounded good in 2008 and 2010 but did not produce good weight loss and was not non invasive as was first thought.  I researched this device in 2008 and 2010 and wrote a blog on it which I've updated to reflect the new device (which of course, isn't really new but perhaps they feel the public won't remember the last times around and they are probably right about this!).  You can read the details by clicking here (Vbloc blog)

This V-bloc has a new name ("The Maestro System") but turns out to be hauntingly similar to the device introduced in 2005 and 2010 and by the way, seems by same weight loss surgery surgeon who advocated it the last time(s) around.  I have talked to him on the phone and he is a fine man (and likely a good doctor) but I guess I'm wondering if it didn't work the last two times around, why should things be different now?  I guess we have to wait and see on this! :)