Commentary on Xenical and Meridia

Please keep in mind, the information included in this page is entirely based on my own, personal experience.  It is meant to tell the point of view of a real person who is really using these drugs.  No medical advice is meant to be implied or given on this page.  Please contact your doctor to answer any concerns or questions you may have.

 

Xenical

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Purpose

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Side effects

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Informational Links

Meridia

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Purpose

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Side effects

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Informational Links

Combined Efforts: About the two drugs together.

Xenical

Purpose

Xenical is a fat blocker made by Roche.  I take 90mg. three times daily with food.  Xenical works only in the digestive system to prevent your body from absorbing 30% of the fat that you consume.  This undigested fat is then excreted with urine and fecal matter. 

The fact that you are only digesting 70% of the fat you consume sounds great but if you think of that in terms of calories it isn't very much.  Let's just say you eat 50 grams of fat daily.  30% of that 50 grams passes directly through your body without passing go. It's like 15 of those fat grams were never eaten at all. When you consider that 1 fat gram is roughly equivalent to 9 calories, that equals 135 calories less than you would have eaten. 

It is indeed 135 less calories than you would have eaten otherwise but that many calories could be equaled by drinking one less soda or cutting back just a little at meal or snack during the day.   So why do I spend all that money and worry about the side effects for a measly 30% drop in the amount of fat my body digests?  The truth is that I do it specifically for the side effects!

Most diet pills affect your brain chemistry so that you have less of an appetite and feel fuller quicker when you eat.  Xenical doesn't work at all on how you feel about food, except of course, through behavioral conditioning.  You see, if I eat a meal that contains less than 30% of the calories from fat, I don't even realize the xenical is working and I go along happily losing weight and eating healthier in the process.  If I consume a fatty meal, xenical's really nasty digestive side effects kick in. According to what I know about behavioral psychology, a negative reinforcer must occur consistently and quickly after the undesired behavior in order to have affect.  Xenical provides an excellent negative reinforcement when I eat a fatty meal.  It's kind of like the Pavlovian dogs, except I am being trained to NOT salivate when I think of a big juicy steak!

In the long run, I am practicing the habit of eating healthily every day while I am losing weight.  When I am no longer taking the Xenical, my prediction is that my new habits will be very ingrained and the likelihood of recidivism will be lessened.  That is the long and short of why I am taking Xenical.

Side effects

So what are these side effects I keep mentioning? Well here is the information straight from the medication insert itself:

Because XENICAL works by blocking the absorption of dietary fat, it is likely that you will experience some changes in bowel habits. These bowel changes are a natural effect of blocking the fat from being absorbed. They generally occur during the first weeks of treatment; however, for some people they may continue for 6 months or longer while on XENICAL. These changes may include gas with oily discharge, an increased number of bowel movements, an urgent need to have them, and an inability to control them, particularly after meals containing higher amounts of fat than are recommended.

Originally, when I read the information, I thought "Who in their right mind would take such a drug?". The idea of it didn't scare me as much when I realized, that for most people, as long as you eat a meal containing less than 30% fat that the side effects were non-existent.

 

That has exactly been the case for me.  I have become much more nutritionally aware.  My body knows even more than the fat counters which can have misprints.  I only need to eat something high in fat accidentally one time to learn my lesson! I generally find that side effects occur 6-12 hours after I eat something high fat.  Although, I discovered that a little binge on McDonald's French Fries sent me to the little girl's room about 10 minutes after dinner! Yikes!

 

More Details on the side effects! Warning Graphic Bathroom Descriptions.


Informational Links

http://www.xenical.com

http://www.xenicare.com

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Meridia

Purpose

Meridia (Reductil in Europe and some other places) is a drug which works in the brain to affect the appetite. It generally lessens appetite and gives a feeling a fullness more quickly than without it.  Meridia has decreased my appetite, but mostly I find its main benefit in giving me time to combat my emotional eating.  At times when I am reacting emotionally, I find my hands reaching for binge food while my brain says, "Hey, I am not even wanting that, let alone needing that!" It gives me enough time to change my mind and analyze the situation before my hands start stuffing my face.  

When I started Meridia, I realized I wasn't feeding my emotions. But other than food, I hadn't dealt with these everyday emotions in a long time, so I found them a little uncontrollable at first. I flew around the house cleaning, I snapped at my husband, I overreacted to lots of things. I was also dealing with the emotion of realizing that I had indeed been emotionally eating. I was in such denial about that until Meridia. I was also so keyed up with hope and excitement. This is emotional because obesity is indeed a life and death battle.

I have been on 10mg. daily since April 9, 2002.

Side effects

Meridia has a long list of contraindications and some side effects.  If you are going to take Meridia, please check out the list of drugs you should not take with it.  As far as side effects, I have experienced dry mouth and insomnia.  I use a dry mouth toothpaste and that problem seems to go away.  The insomnia seems to be mostly under control.  I usually have no trouble falling asleep at night, but if I wake in the middle of the night, I have an extremely hard time getting back to sleep. I have also noticed that caffeine has a much stronger effect while I am taking this drug. Alcohol has a much stronger effect too, so be very careful combining those two drugs.

The big concern with Meridia seems to be about blood pressure and some deaths which have been related to Meridia.  Meridia can indeed raise blood pressure in some individuals, so it is important to monitor your blood pressure routinely.  Since I've begun losing weight and exercising, my blood pressure is usually around 110/78, which is excellent.

My commentary on the deaths linked to Meridia:  No deaths have been proven to have been caused by Meridia.  There are many, many health concerns for obese individuals.  There is a something called cardiomyopathy which some are theorizing is linked to Meridia and others insist that it is genetically linked. There has been no proof and the FDA is still allowing Meridia to be sold.  There have actually been very few deaths worldwide which could have some relationship to Meridia. 

But before you get too worried, have you ever found out how many deaths each year result from overdosing Tylenol? Many over-the-counter and common prescription drugs have very serious possible side effects.  Before you get caught up in any media hype about a drug like Meridia consider that many people think weight loss aids such as Meridia are used out of laziness and vanity.  Thank goodness that people with type II diabetes, which is so closely related to obesity can get insulin or other drugs even though most type II diabetes can be regulated with diet and exercise.  And... to think of the weaklings who give in and take morphine for kidney stones or epidurals during childbirth. (Sarcastic tone, in case you missed it.)  Obesity is a life-threatening condition and there are a few tools out there which can help people beat it, let's not be too quick to stand in the way.

Informational Links

http://www.4meridia.com Manufacturer's website.

http://www.kbmoll.com/class/cl_mer.htm Class action suit page against Meridia. Thank God we live in a country where we have a right to court to face accusers.  Thought I'd try to be even-handed and show both sides.

http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/020627/250/d24gi.html Article about Meridia being deemed safe and helpful for treating obesity.

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Combined Efforts: About the two drugs together.

Well, as you know by now, I am taking Xenical and Meridia in combination to aid my weight loss.  The truth is that the FDA hasn't said the combination is safe or unsafe and neither drug manufacturer will say one way or the other.  That is because drugs are almost always tested in isolation.  The only reason we find out about contraindicated drugs is through some unfortunate person's mistake or because the drug makers already know the likely outcome of combining certain chemicals.  We may never have a test deeming the two drugs safe to be used together... but then again, there was never a test to find out whether the arthritis medication you are taking is safe to take with your decongestant or asthma medication either.

So, since there is no double-blind placebo drug clinical study of the combination, all we have left is advice from our doctors and a little common sense.  My doctor prescribed both medications stating that he finds quicker and longer lasting results when the two drugs are used in tandem.  Meridia works on a chemical in the brain and xenical works on the digestive process in the intestines.  The two drugs work in completely different body systems and really do not interact. 

I think the combination is quite effective because the Meridia controls my cravings and overeating desires enough to let me comply with a healthier way of eating.  Xenical gives me the motivation and the awareness so I remember to stay on the healthier way of eating as I develop my new lifetime habits.  The food I put in my body is still the food I put in my body.  I have responsibility for my behavior but these two drugs are excellent tools to help me learn to become a healthier, thinner me.

And, I think that the side effects of the Xenical may actually be helping me avoid the constipation side effect of the Meridia! Who knows!

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