Elijah Poulos, MD, is a resident at Banner Good Samaritan's Internal Medicine program.
Question: Can you tell me about HCG Hormone? Is it really effective for weight loss? How safe is it. I am about 25 pounds overweight
Answer: HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is the largest active protein hormone produced in humans. Under normal conditions, HCG is only made by the placenta of pregnant women, and is the basis of the pregnancy test. HCG is detectable in maternal blood as early as six to eight days after conception, with highest levels occurring in the first trimester.
HCG for commercial use is collected from the urine of pregnant women. It has long been used for its fertility effects, as it can be used to induce ovulation.
Question: Is it really effective for weight loss?
Answer: No. Based upon a review of all available well-done research, HCG, there is no scientific evidence that HCG causes weight loss.
Proponents of HCG base their claims on the “Simeons Therapy” from 1954, which has been disproven time and time again. The program usually combines six weeks of daily HCG injections with a fat-free 500 calorie-a-day diet plan. This extremely low-calorie diet is well below what is considered healthy and safe. Research has demonstrated that the diet alone can cause weight loss, and that HCG does not produce any significant redistribution of fat, reduced hunger, or feeling of well-being, despite what is claimed.
Question: How safe is it?
Answer: Well, the amount of HCG used is lower than what is used in fertility clinics. The level used for fertility has been deemed safe by the FDA, but since HCG is not FDA approved for weight loss, no official safety statement has been issued. Given this, and that I am not recommending HCG for diet, it is generally safe in this low amount and short duration. Common reported side-effects are headache and nausea (similar to what is experienced during pregnancy).