Are you considering using an over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss supplement? If you are, be cautious! It’s estimated that as much as 40% of the U.S. population uses herbal or dietary supplements. However, many of these do not have scientific evidence to support their weight loss claims and their potential side effects, including liver toxicity, are not well defined. A spokesperson for the National Institutes of Health released a report in 2012 stating that “supplements accounted for 18% of liver injuries in the U.S. There were no deaths, but 7% of patients needed a liver transplant. These are not trivial consequences.” Indeed!
However, there is some good news. One supplement, Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCBE), shows promise. Raw, unroasted coffee seeds are high in chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid slows absorption of fat from food intake, activates metabolism of extra fat, and inhibits glucose-6-phosphotase in liver which results in less formation of glucose/decreasing glycemic effect of food. Roasting the beans removes bitterness along with chlorogenic acid.
In a study reported in the journal, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity 16 patients with a BMI > 25 took GCBE for 12 weeks. On average, there was a weight loss of 18 lbs (10% of bdywt, 4.4% body fat). Even Dr. Oz has jumped on the GCBE band wagon to extol its benefits! When it comes to purchasing a product, not all manufacturers create their supplements equally. Look for “GCA” or “Svetol” brand names with at least 45% chlorogenic acid. It should be taken 400mg, three times daily. As with all supplements, check with your health care provider or pharmacist to find out if there are any interaction with medications you are currently taking.

Curtis Smith, PA-C
Physician Assistant