At Mochi, we believe in empowering our clients by informing them of their options and helping them in every step of their journey toward their health goals. We are constantly bombarded by weight loss agents in the media that are supposedly “proven effective,” but are they really? Here we introduce some of these agents and break down the common myths about their effectiveness: lipotropic injections, vitamin B12 injections, berberine, and PhenQ.
Berberine is a yellow compound found in many plants, including philodendron, Oregon grape, goldenseal, and goldthread. It is the bioactive ingredient of Rhizoma coptidis (also named “Huang Lian” in Chinese), and is a common traditional Chinese medicinal herb. As a supplement, it is taken in the form of oral tablets at varying doses of 500–1,500mg per day. Each bottle costs about $25.
In animal models, berberine has been shown to affect fat cell development and absorption of cholesterol, which resulted in decreased lipid levels. Some studies suggest that it might be a potential adjunct treatment for diabetes. However, very little research has shown evidence for its beneficial effects on weight loss. In addition, because of its potentially dangerous risks, it’s not a drug to be taken lightly.
PhenQ was launched in 2009, making it one of the oldest weight loss products on the market, and has gained growing popularity in recent years. PhenQ pills contain a mixture of ingredients, including capsimax powder, chromium picolinate, caffeine, nopal, and L carnitine. Capsimax powder and caffeine are the two biggest contributors, which are supposed to help increase body temperature, boost metabolism, and curb appetite.
Despite the hype, there is very little research done on the effectiveness or safety of the PhenQ pill. The most powerful ingredient in PhenQ is caffeine. Each pill contains 150mg of caffeine, which is about the equivalent of two cups of coffee in one tablet. According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine may slightly boost metabolism but there is no convincing evidence that it causes weight loss. Each bottle costs about $70.
Lipotropic injections, or “lipo shots,” contain a solution of supplements that are delivered into the body through a needle and syringe up to 1–3 times a week. These supplements may include choline, inositol, methionine, vitamin B12, B complex vitamins. Each shot averages $35-$75.
It is thought that the ingredients of lipo shots contribute to fat metabolism and that their supplementation would lead to weight loss. Some people have reported losing weight on lipo shots in combination with a rigorous exercise regimen, but there is no convincing evidence that the weight loss was actually from the lipo shot and not the intense exercise alone. There are no definitive research studies that justify that the supplementation of these ingredients. In fact, they could cause more harm than benefit.
Instead of getting the lipo shot, which contains vitamin B12 along with other supplements, some may opt for only vitamin B12 injections. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a B complex vitamin found naturally in the body and in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, and dairy products. Medically, vitamin B12 injections are generally prescribed to help with certain types of anemia. Each shot averages about $50-$80.
Some propose that vitamin B12 injections help boost energy level and metabolism. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, this effect does not occur in the absence of an actual vitamin B12 deficit. Additionally, there is no solid evidence that vitamin B12 injections are effective in weight loss, and the potentially serious risks may outweigh the benefits.
Dr. Eva Shelton, M.D.
Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital