A diet pill known as Accomplia (Rimonabant) is causing a buzz among dieters in all parts of the world. Originally developed to help people stop smoking, Accomplia also appears to suppress appetite by blocking hunger signals to the brain.
Accomplia targets the endocannabinoid system, which controls appetite and energy expenditure (as well as the urge to smoke). People who tend to overeat often have an over-stimulated endocannabinoid system. Accomplia blocks some receptors in the endocannabinoid system, giving it better balance, which in turn curbs appetite and the urge to overeat.
The French company Sanofi-Synthelabo is the creator of Accomplia, which it intends to market in the United States by as early as 2006 and possibly sooner in Europe. The drug has undergone thorough testing, with the first animal study conducted by the National Institute of Health in in 2001. In that study, genetically altered mice that lacked cannabinoid receptors were found to eat less than mice with an intact endocannabinoid system. The normal mice were then given Accomplia, and their food intake significantly decreased as well.
Human testing of Accomplia began in 2002. In one study, more than 1500 people participated in a trial in which they received either 5 mg per day of Accomplia, 20 mg per day of Accomplia or a placebo.
All of the participants began the study with a body mass index that classified them as obese, as well as high levels of blood fat, high blood pressure or both. Though approximately one third of participants dropped out of the study due to Accomplia side effects, the results support the claim that Accomplia is an effective weight loss medication.
After a year, more than 67 percent of those given a 20 mg dose of Accomplia had lost at least 5% of their original body weight, with 39% losing 10% of that weight or more. Those taking 5 mg doses of Accomplia lost more weight than those taking a placebo, but less weight than those taking 20 mg of the drug.
Another study reported by the American Heart Association included more than 3000 participants. The study showed that people who took Accomplia not only lost weight but showed lower levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, indicating that Accomplia may have the potential to replace other medications used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Time will tell whether the results of studies conducted on Accomplia are significant. Diet and exercise will likely always play a part in the battle against obesity, and it is possible that the 5-10% weight loss achieved in a year’s time by people using Accomplia can occur without the use of any medication, which always has the risk of side effects.
Accomplia side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort and dizziness. Mood disorders and headaches may be side effects as well. In general, Accomplia side effects seem to subside once adjustment to the drug is made.
Side effects also appear to be fewer and less severe than those of many other weight loss medications on the market. Accomplia, then, shows promise due to its relatively low incidence of side effects, as well as its positive effects on weight loss and its apparent ability to maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
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