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Can Topamax Effectively and Safely Help With Weight Loss?

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It’s scary how many of us want the easy-fix, with some not considering the risks. Since the global market functions through a supply and demand cycle, an easy-fix is almost always available. But because one thing can fix a problem doesn’t mean it won’t cause others.

One of the illnesses that many individuals are suffering from is epilepsy. With the advancement of research in the medical field, a lot of medications have already been developed to treat this illness and lessen the seizure attacks that individuals experience because of epilepsy. One of these medications is Topamax.

Aside from being an effective treatment against epilepsy, some studies recent studies have shown that Topamax can also be an effective solution to weight loss.

Relationship Between Topamax and Weight Loss

Most of us know that Topamax is used in the treatment of epilepsy. Aside from that, it’s also used by some as medication to prevent migraine. Seeing that it is an anticonvulsant drug, how can it had been promoted as an effective weight loss pill?

  • Active Component

Topiramate is the generic term for the trademarked Topamax tablets and is a broad-spectrum anti-epilepsy drug. Although there have been many proposed mechanisms of action of its anticonvulsant properties including mitochondrial permeability transition, there has been no proven mechanism to explain the reason for its potency.

Nevertheless, even with the vague process, its effectiveness prompted the FDA to approve Topamax in 1996 for seizure treatment.

  • Studies With Type 2 Diabetic Patients

It was first noted way back in the early 2000s that patients using Topamax exhibited significant weight loss. Naturally, testing the drug on obese and diabetic patients progressed as the next step.

A 2007 study revealed astounding difference to the three test groups showing that topiramate was not only effective in reducing patients’ baseline body weight, but also in lowering their blood pressure.

To add, meta-analysis and systematic reviews are now available. These reviews summarize different studies about the relationship between topiramate and weight loss in diabetic patients.

However, a 2016 analysis also indicates concern for the adverse effects this drug causes. Most studies that have been conducted regarding the subject matter noted that the psychological and chemical adverse effects might be so severe that the option to use Topamax should be weighed very carefully.

Adverse effects that are actually displayed in the Topamax site include (but are not limited to):

  • Eye problems with loss of vision as the most severe effect
  • Acidosis that may cause brittle bones, kidney stones, delayed growth in kids
  • An increase in body temperature and a decrease in sweating, with severe cases needing to be admitted to the hospital
  • Suicidal thoughts and depression as reported by patients

Why Take Topamax?

Some physicians, it seems, are either unaware of the severity of Topamax’s side effects or have truly weighed the cons with the pros, as must be the case with some obese patients. Some doctors have even prescribed it as an off-label weight loss drug.

Patients have reported weight loss in different dosages, proving again that the case for each person is different. Some have reported that their appetite did not decrease, but they still lost weight. Others have troubling reports of losing their sense of taste and are no longer able to enjoy eating.

There are many theories of why the drug is effective in losing weight for many while not having much difference to others. Nevertheless, it is clear that further studies are still needed to ground these theories.

Topiramate and Phentermine

On July 2012, the FDA approved a new drug Qsymia (Vivus), a combination of phentermine (Adipex, Gate) and topiramate (Topamax, Janssen), as an adjunctive drug for weight-loss, but with warnings and requirements.

According to the FDA’s press release, it is suitable only for overweight “adults with an initial BMI of at least 30 or in those with a BMI of 27 or greater and at least one weight-related condition, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes or dyslipidemia.”

Moreover, the approval came with a warning under the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) and the FDA will release it through specifically certified pharmacies only.

Final Thoughts

The adage “the end doesn’t justify the means” is applicable for Topamax as a weight loss solution. Although it may deliver efficient weight loss results, the adverse effects that it may cause should still be put into consideration. However, the fact remains that Topamax is a promising drug that can offer potent results to those who need it. As such, more studies should still be conducted to improve its composition for safer consumption.

For the meantime, those who are currently taking or are about to start taking the drug should consult their healthcare provider first before opting to take Topamax.

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