Literatus: The 'placenta' diet-A A +A
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
ON APRIL 8, a national broadsheet reported of at least 130 pounds in weight loss due to a new trend in weight management: HCG diet. It got its name in reference to the “human chorionic gonadotropic hormone,” a hormone that certain placental cells produce.
Proponents of the “drug” do not want you to ingest doses of placenta from unborn babies, though. Thus they come in other forms: nasal spray, injection, and under-tongue drops. Usual dose is 125-180 IU daily vis-à-vis a very-low-calorie (VLC) meal of 500 calories per day for 45 days. A two-ounce bottle can cost around P2,500 in the country.
HCG functions to enrich the uterus of the mother with a thick lining of blood vessels and capillaries that support the sustained growth of the fetus. Because it is highly charged, HCG also repels the immune cells of the mother, protecting the fetus during its first trimester of life.
The theory: HCG programs the hypothalamus to break down fats in order to protect the developing fetus, and doing similarly for adults. Product ads also claim it is capable of “releasing” 1,500-4,000 calories (how they know that remains to be seen because I found no study yet that measured this release or mobilization of calories).
Since 1976, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consistently maintained that the use of HCG has insufficient evidence of its safety and effectiveness. In December last year, it penalized American companies that promoted the diet as a homeopathic weight reducer for failing to comply with the FDA restrictions.
The American Society of Bariatric Physicians reiterated in 2009 their 1995 statement: “There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity. The meta-analysis found insufficient evidence supporting the claims that HCG is effective in altering fat-distribution, hunger reduction or in inducing a feeling of well-being. The authors stated ‘the use of HCG should be regarded as an inappropriate therapy for weight reduction.’ In the authors’ opinion, ‘Pharmacists and physicians should be alert on the use of HCG for Simeons therapy. The result of this meta-analysis supports a firm standpoint against this improper indication. Restraints on physicians practicing this therapy can be based on our findings.’”
A more recent study that Nina Mikirova and colleagues conducted and reported in the International Journal of Medical Science (2011) showed better parameters than previous ones. However, it remained impaired due to its insistent use of starvation meals, and not testing it on at least the minimum required 1,200-1,500 calories daily diet.
I still wonder why proponents failed to investigate along this line.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 16, 2013.