Without wishing to over-simplify things in answer to the question – what is Sibutramine – the most straightforward answer that can be given is that Sibutramine is a slimming aid or diet pill. However, that really is only just the beginning of the answer, as Sibutramine is not some herbal remedy or health supplement that has been used for thousands of years, but one of the modern pharmacological offerings available to people who are desperate to lose weight. Sibutramine is also known as Reductil and Meridia and is manufactured by Abbot Laboratories of Illinois.
The biochemistry of Sibutramine
If you wish to you can read the official IUPAC systematic name for Sibutramine elsewhere, however, the form of Sibutramine that is commonly available is actually Sibutramine Hydrochloride Monohydrate that can be taken orally as a pill or tablet. Although similar to amphetamines it does not work on the human body in the same way that amphetamines do. Sibutramine works as a “centrally-acting serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor”. In this respect Sibutramine works similarly to some anti-depressants by raising levels of norepinephrine and serotonin – without significantly affecting other receptor systems such as histaminergic and cholinergic receptors. No doubt, and quite rightly, you’ll be thinking OK – so what does that really mean? Well, although the action of norepinephrine and serotonin are more associated with activity in the brain serotonin, for example, in the digestive tract restricts gastric secretions and stimulates smooth muscles in the stomach wall – reducing ‘hunger’ signals being sent to the brain. At the same time both chemicals act on the brain to control any ‘mood related’ desires to eat when not necessarily hungry.
Sibutramine and safety
Officially Sibutramine is currently a Schedule IV controlled substance in the USA due to concerns about abuse and addiction. However, it is an acknowledged appetite suppressant and is often prescribed to treat obese patients. The schedule IV classification would seem harsh as, previously stated, it does not have any dopaminergic effects that are associated with amphetamine diet pills. This lack of evidence of potential for abuse seems to have been over-ruled by concerns that anorexics would abuse it becoming self-addicted to it, rather than being chemically addicted to it. The normal dosage for Sibutramine is 10mg once a day; this dosage can be increased to 15mg if after a trial period the 10mg dose is deemed to low.
General use of Sibutramine
If you’re not already aware being overweight or obese can seriously affect your overall health and life expectancy leading to heart disease, diabetes and an increased risk from cancers – to name but a few of the potential problems. So, apart from wanting shed a few pound, or get into some decent fitting clothes etc – losing weight could just save your life! Under medical guidance, especially in the treatment of overweight people with a BMI greater than 27 and those grossly overweight and obese people with BMIs above 30, Sibutramine is highly effective as an aide to losing weight especially when used in conjunction with a controlled diet and increased physical activity. Originally registered in 2001 Sibutramine has already been used by some 13 million people world-wide. As mentioned above Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant reducing the desire to eat by suppressing signals of hunger being sent to and from your brain. The result of this is that the person taking Sibutramine diet pills burns the excess fat stored in their bodies rather than constantly consuming more and more food that simply gets stored as fat. In this respect Sibutramine can also have a positive effect on the body’s cholesterol levels and, in the instances of overweight people with type-2 diabetes – it can even help to control blood-sugar levels. As with most medications Sibutramine does have some side-effects. However, side-effects do not occur in all cases of people that are taking Sibutramine and, when they do occur, are usually restricted to insomnia, a dry mouth and constipation. You can read more about the side-effects of using Sibutramine in another article in this series.