12 Over-the-Counter Appetite Suppressants Review

Numerous supplements claim to be able to help you lose weight quickly. Appetite suppressants can be described as supplements that reduce appetite and promote weight loss. Some appetite suppressants are only prescribed by doctors. Others can be purchased over-the-counter. This is a comprehensive review of 12 prescription-only appetite suppressants and their safety and effectiveness.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a type polyunsaturated fat acid found naturally in foods such as dairy and beef. You can also buy it in concentrated form to aid with weight loss.

How it works: CLA has shown that CLA can affect appetite-regulating genes. It can also increase the amount of calories burned at rest, increase body mass, and stimulate fat loss.

Effectiveness: CLA has been shown to decrease appetite in animals, but not in humans. A 12-week study of 62 participants showed that CLA intake of 3.9g per day had no impact on appetite, body composition, or calories burned.

Although CLA supplements may promote weight loss, some studies have not shown any significant impact. A review of 15 studies showed that people who took CLA supplements for at least six months lost on average 1.5 pounds (0.7kg) more than those in the control group.

Side effects: CLA supplementation can cause side effects such as gas and diarrhea. Supplementation for a long time can lead to liver damage and increased inflammation.

Summary CLA: A dietary supplement that is claimed to reduce appetite. However, human studies have shown that CLA does not affect appetite or weight loss.

Bitter Oranges (Synephrine)

This compound may help to reduce appetite. Synephrine has a structural similarity to ephedrine (popular weight loss drug). It was banned in 2004 because of serious side effects. Bitter orange supplements can be purchased over-the-counter to help you lose weight and reduce your appetite. It works by stimulating the breakdown of fat and suppressing appetite.

Efficacy: Although synephrine has been shown to increase the number of calories burned, there is no conclusive evidence that it can affect weight loss. It is difficult to determine the effectiveness of bitter orange when it is combined with other compounds, such as caffeine, in weight loss products.

23 studies were reviewed and found that synephrine, at 20 to 35 mg per day, increased metabolic rate and had a small impact on weight loss. Some studies have shown no weight loss or even weight gain following treatment with synephrine.

Side effects: Synephrine can cause anxiety, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. It is not known if synephrine, alone or in combination with other stimulants, causes these symptoms.

Summary Bitter Oranges (Synephrine): A compound found in orange may increase metabolism and encourage weight loss. However, research shows mixed results.

Garcinia Cambodia

Garcinia Cambodia diet supplements are some of the most sought-after weight loss products on the market. Garcinia Cambodia pills contain an extract from the peel of the Garcinia Gummi-gutta Fruit. These pills can be used to reduce appetite and promote weight loss.

How it works: Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a component of Garcinia Cambodia Extract. It may decrease appetite by increasing serotonin in your brain and decreasing the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Effectiveness: 12 studies reviewed found that supplementation with Garcinia Cambogia (containing 1,000-2,800mg of HCA daily for 2-12 weeks) led to an average weight loss of 1.94 pounds (0.88kg) compared to those who took placebo pills.

A further study of 28 subjects showed that Garcinia Cambodia is more effective in reducing appetite, increasing fullness, and decreasing hunger than the placebo. Other studies, however, have shown that Garcinia Cambogia has little or no effect on appetite and weight loss.

Side effects: Garcinia Cambogia is generally safe, but some people may experience side effects such as nausea, headaches, diarrhea, irritability, and liver failure in extreme cases.

Summary Garcinia Cambodia: Research shows that Garcinia Cambodia promotes weight loss and suppresses appetite.


Glucomannan, a type of soluble fibre, is derived from the konjac plant’s edible roots. It can absorb up to 50 times its body weight in water so it is used to aid weight loss and increase appetite.

It works as follows: Glucomannan has been shown to promote weight loss by decreasing appetite, increasing feelings satisfaction, and slowing down digestion.

Effectiveness: There have been inconsistent results from studies on the effects of glucomannan on weight loss. Six studies reviewed found that glucomannan can be consumed daily for as little as 1.24 to 99 grams per day, which can lead to weight loss of up to 6.6 pounds (or 3 kg). Researchers concluded that the results weren’t statistically significant, and that more long-term studies were needed.

Side effects: Glucomannan can cause constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.

Summary Glucomannan: This type of soluble fiber may help to promote weight loss in the short-term. However, the results of the studies are not conclusive.

Hoodia Gordonii

Hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant that has been used traditionally in Southern Africa to suppress appetite, is one example. Hoodia gordonii extracts are used in dietary supplement that claims to lower appetite and increase weight loss.

How it works: Although Hoodia gordonii’s mechanism of suppressing hunger is not known, scientists have linked it to a compound called P57 (or glycoside), which could impact your central nervous system, and possibly decrease appetite (21).

Efficacy: Hoodia gordonii’s effectiveness to aid weight loss is not supported by any evidence. In a study of 49 overweight women, 2.2 grams per day of Hoodia Gordonii was found to have no effect on their body weight or calorie intake. It was taken an hour before meals.

Side effects: Hoodia Gordonii can cause headaches, nausea and high blood pressure.

Summary: Currently there is no evidence to support the use Hoodia gordonii as a weight loss supplement.

Green Coffee Beans

The extract of green coffee beans is a substance that is extracted from the seeds of the coffee plant. It is widely used to aid in weight loss.

It works like this: Green coffee beans are high in chlorogenic acid which can inhibit fat accumulation. Caffeine in the extract can also cause a decrease in appetite.

Effectiveness: A study on people with metabolic syndrome found that 400mg of green coffee bean extracts daily resulted in a significant reduction in their waist circumference and appetite. A review of three studies revealed that participants who consumed 180 mg or 200m of green coffee extract daily for up to 12 week lost an average of 6 pounds (2.47kg) more than those who took placebos.

Side effects: Green coffee bean extract can cause headaches or increased heart rate.

Summary: Several types of research have shown that green coffee bean extract can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Guarana Plant

For hundreds of years, the guarana plant has been used for many purposes, including appetite suppression.

It works like this: Guarana has the highest concentration of caffeine in the world. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system. It has been shown that it can decrease appetite and increase metabolism.

Effectiveness: There is not enough evidence to support the use guarana for weight loss and appetite suppression. But, animal and test-tube studies have shown that guarana extract can increase metabolism and reduce fat cell production.

Side effects: Guarana can cause anxiety and headaches due to its high caffeine content.

Summary: Guarana is a high-caffeine plant that may increase metabolism. However, more research is required to determine if it’s true. It suppresses appetite and promotes weight loss.

Acacia Fiber

Acacia fiber (also known as gum arabic) is an indigestible fiber that promotes fullness and suppresses appetite.

It works like this: Acacia fiber slows down digestion, suppresses appetite and increases fullness. This can help you manage your weight.

Effectiveness: A six-week study of 120 women revealed that 30 grams of acacia fiber daily led to a significant reduction in body fat. A study of 92 diabetics showed that 30g daily of acacia fiber significantly reduced belly fat.

Side effects: Possible side effects include gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Summary: Acacia fiber may help you lose weight by increasing your feeling of fullness.

Saffron Extract

Saffron extract is a substance that is made from the stigma, or the female part where pollen is collected, of the saffron plant.

It works like this: Saffron extract may contain many substances that can increase feelings of fullness and boost mood.

Effectiveness: A study of 60 overweight women showed that women who took 176mg per day of saffron extract lost more weight and had a greater reduction in snacking than those who took a placebo pill. These results are encouraging, but more long-term studies are needed to determine if saffron is effective in reducing appetite and assisting with weight loss.

Side effects: Saffron Extract is generally well tolerated, but can cause dizziness and fatigue, dry lips, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness in some people.

Summary: Evidence supports the use of the saffron extract to decrease hunger and loss weight.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is a fiber that comes from the Indian cluster bean or Cyamopsis tetragonoloba. It works by increasing the bulk of your gut. Guar gum suppresses hunger by increasing fullness and slowing down digestion.

Effectiveness: A study concluded that 2g of Guar gum daily resulted in significant dietary reductions in hunger and a 20% decrease in snacking between meals.  Similar results have been found in other studies, suggesting that guar gum might be an effective way to reduce cravings and overall calorie intake. Guar gum is not proven to be an effective weight loss tool.

Side effects: Guar Gum can cause side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, cramping, gas, and bloating.

Summary: Guar Gum is a type of fiber that can be used to reduce snacking between meals and decrease overall calories.


Forskolin is a compound that comes from the Coleus Forskohlii plant.

How it works: Forskolin claims to help you lose weight by decreasing your appetite, increasing your metabolism, and increasing your body’s ability to burn fat.

Effectiveness: There are very few human studies that have examined the effects of forskolin on weight loss and appetite suppression. Numerous studies have shown that forskolin doses of up to 500mg per day do not reduce appetite, increase food intake, or encourage weight loss.

Side effects: Although little is known about the side effects, one study found diarrhea and an increase in bowel movements in Coleus Forskohlii.

Summary Forskolin: It appears to have no effect on weight loss or appetite. Research on this supplement is ongoing.


Chromium is a common mineral that’s used to control blood sugar, reduce hunger and decrease cravings.

It works like this: Chromium picolinate, a highly absorbable form of chromium, helps to reduce appetite and cravings. It also affects neurotransmitters that regulate mood and eating behavior.

Effectiveness: 11 studies involving 866 obese or overweight people showed that supplementing with 137-1,000 mg of chromium daily for 8-26 weeks led to a reduction in body weight of 1.1 pounds (0.5kg) and body fat of 0.46 percent.

Side effects: Possible side effects of chromium picolinate include dizziness, loose stools, headaches, vertigo, and dizziness.

Summary: Research has shown that chromium picolinate may be effective at reducing cholesterol. Encourage weight loss and appetite control


Many supplements claim to reduce appetite and increase weight loss. However, there is not enough evidence to support the claims that these dietary supplements can reduce appetite. Certain supplements, like acacia fiber and guar gum, have been shown to reduce appetite. However, side effects such as diarrhea, headaches, and abdominal discomfort can occur.

You can control your appetite, decrease snacking, and lose weight using other, more scientifically-proven methods that aren’t dependent on dietary supplements. You can lose weight by cutting out processed foods, increasing your exercise, and reducing your overall calories.

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