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Thinking of taking Weight Loss Products

Mar 16, 2002

Should anyone with HIV be taking Ephedra to lose weight? I tested positive over a year ago my viral load is currently undetectable and tcell are in the low 500. I feel healthy and would like to build some self-esteem by losing some wieght. I would like to be back to 175# and working out and a good diet has not worked much. I am currently taking norvir and fortovase (not taking any other meds). Other stats: 31, 5'll", 190#. I have purchased a bottle of these supplements and I am thinking of taking them soon. I will ask my Doctor before I do so.........but I thought I would ask you first. thanks

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

The short response is "NO!"

First of all you should know that a voluntary recall of ephedra was initiated by the FDA. There is good reason for this, especially in HIV infection. Your medications interact with many "natural products" (which, by the way are really used as drugs and not "naturally"). Ephedra is one of many that interact and you really do need to talk with your HIV-specialist physician before taking any type of supplement! Here are some that are noted to interact with the drug metabolism pathways that your anti-HIV drugs use: coenzyme Q10, dong quai, ephedra, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, glucosamine sulfate, ipriflavone, melatonin, and St. John's wort.

Second, diet is generally quite effective for losing weight, but there are two issues to be aware of... Most importantly is the question of whether dieting is safe for you. One way to tell is to have a body composition evaluation done to see if you have some extra muscle tissue that you can afford to lose (dieting usually yields a weight loss of 60% fat loss and 40% lean tissue loss). If you have some of this type of tissue (also know as body cell mass or BCM) to spare, then you need to work with a dietitian to put together an effective plan. Most people say that diet fails because they don't have (or stick to) and effective plan.

While exercise typically yields less weight loss, the ratios are better. When weight is lost through adequate diet and with exercise it is usually 80% fat and only about 20% lean. Even so, you need to know if losing weight is an option that won't compromise your health further.

Whatever you decide on diet and exercise, ephedra is not a good option for you or anyone else in your situation. You have way too much to lose here!

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