The Health Dangers of Sibutramine

We're going to tell you about the side effects of sibutramine, a drug that is used to promote weight loss by reducing appetite.
The Health Dangers of Sibutramine
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 08 February, 2023

Sibutramine is one of the drugs used to treat obesity. It’s a compound that increases the feeling of satiety, which reduces the risk of overeating. In this way, a hypocaloric environment is more easily produced.

Before starting, it’s necessary to emphasize the need to maintain a good state of body composition. Both being overweight and obese increase the risk of developing many chronic and complex diseases. The key is to promote healthy lifestyle habits, such as a good diet and physical exercise.

What exactly is sibutramine?

Sibutramine is a drug that works by increasing the feeling of satiety, but also thermogenesis. It facilitates weight loss and has visible effects after 15 days. This is evidenced by a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine . It is administered in capsule form and can be purchased at pharmacies with a prescription.

However, in some countries in Latin America and Europe its use has been prohibited, as it can produce a series of adverse effects. Despite its effectiveness in terms of improving body composition, it has a series of effects and potential damage that may not outweigh the benefits generated.

When is sibutramine used?

It should be noted that sibutramine is indicated in people with obesity, with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. In these cases, it can be difficult to start good lifestyle habits. For this reason, the use of a drug is sometimes beneficial.

However, its use must be indicated by a doctor and supervised by an endocrinologist. It’s also advisable to involve a nutritionist during the intervention, in order to adjust the diet.

The effects on satiety of this product act from the first meals. According to research published in The Journal of Neuroscience, sibutramine acts on the hypothalamus, influencing the regulation of appetite.

Thanks to the drug, it’s easier to follow a hypocaloric diet plan, as anxiety won’t appear. This is the cause of the failure of many diets.

Now, there are other mechanisms that can be used to control appetite. The practice of physical exercise can be one of them. The more activity you do, the more efficient your hunger control becomes, preventing an energy intake that’s higher than your expenditure.

Control of obesity with sibutramine.
The use of sibutramine is reserved for patients who fail with non-pharmacological methods and who have a BMI greater than 30.

How is sibutramine consumed?

Sibutramine is taken in doses of 10 milligrams per day by mouth. It’s usually administered in the morning. However, if a reduction of at least 2 kilos isn’t experienced during the first 4 weeks of treatment, it’s possible to increase the dose to 15 milligrams.

The total duration of the treatment shouldn’t exceed two years.

Risks of using sibutramine

Among the main side effects derived from the consumption of sibutramine we can highlight constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, increased heart rate, palpitations, increased blood pressure, dizziness and headaches.

It’s a drug that interferes with the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system, as evidenced by a study published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs. It could even increase the incidence of acute myocardial infarction in people with risk factors and genetic predisposition.

As a general rule, its use isn’t recommended in people with a history of diabetes or cardiovascular problems. If the lipid profile is altered, there’s arterial hypertension, a cardiac pathology, or some eating disorder has developed, the drug cannot be consumed.

Similarly, it should be avoided in the case of pregnant women or nursing mothers. Nor can it be combined with other medications, such as those indicated for nasal congestion, antidepressants, cough suppressants and other appetite suppressants.

It isn’t advisable to take sibutramine when the BMI is less than 30. In this case, it’s more worthwhile to start a dietary treatment combined with the modification of lifestyle habits. In children and in people over 65 years it mustn’t be used either. In fact, there is much disagreement regarding its use, as stated in a study article in Drug Safety.

Alternatives to sibutramine

Sibutramine is a drug that, although effective, has many side effects and contraindications. In most cases, its use is not advised, as the risks could outweigh the benefits.

However, it’s possible to find other natural alternatives to stimulate weight loss through appetite suppression. Let’s see some examples.


Ginger is a root that has many health benefits. It creates an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, which is why it contributes to the prevention of many chronic and complex pathologies. Its inclusion in the regular diet is recommended, but even more so if you’re overweight.

There is sufficient evidence to affirm that ginger is capable of stimulating the mobilization and oxidation of fats, which causes weight loss. This benefit is even greater if it’s combined with other spicy foods that contain capsaicin.


Caffeine is an alkaloid that has effects on suppressing appetite and increasing energy expenditure. It’s capable of promoting weight loss, as stated by research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. In addition, it has a very high safety profile, since at doses below 300 milligrams a day it doesn’t have any side effects.

We mustn’t forget that it’s a compound that has a toxic limit. This means that if a certain daily consumption is exceeded, negative consequences can be experienced, such as insomnia and tachycardia. Nor should it be combined with alcohol or other drugs.


Cinnamon is a culinary spice that’s frequently used as an antidiabetic. It causes an increase in insulin sensitivity from the genesis of slight hypoglycemia, thus stimulating the mobilization and oxidation of lipids. It can be included in the diet both in powder form and through supplements.

It’s good to combine this element with certain restrictive protocols that can generate a hypocaloric environment, such as intermittent fasting. This will achieve the best results in terms of weight loss.

Cinnamon for obesity.
Cinnamon is a spice that is recommended in cases of overweight and obesity.

Are there other drugs to fight obesity?

It’s possible to find other drugs on the market that can help in the treatment of obesity. Perhaps the one with the highest safety profile of all of them is metformin. It causes an increase in insulin sensitivity.

Other compounds that enhance the effects of a hypocaloric diet may be prescribed, with fewer side effects for the body than sibutramine. The most efficient ones work by blocking pancreatic lipase, which means that fats cannot dissolve to be absorbed.

However, from the use of these compounds, intestinal problems such as gas and diarrhea can be experienced. There have also been cases of alteration of the parameters associated with the health of the cardiovascular system, such as a reduction in blood pressure.

Other drugs, such as naltrexone and bupropion, work by reducing the pleasure associated with the act of eating. In this way, it helps to control emotional eaters, stopping them from bingeing on unhealthy food.

Finally, there’s the option of bariatric surgery to combat excess weight in its most extreme version. Excess subcutaneous fat is removed and the capacity of the stomach pouch can be reduced. However, if this isn’t accompanied by re-education, the long-term results won’t be good.

Sibutramine: a drug with many side effects

Sibutramine is an effective weight loss drug, although it has many side effects. It has a very specific application context and many people shouldn’t consume it. There are also interactions with other medications.

What is clear is that when it comes to fighting obesity, it’s best to promote good habits. Surgeries or pharmacology can be carried out, but if the diet isn’t adequate, over time the lost weight will be regained.

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