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At first, Saxenda — a drug that was previously used to treat diabetes — seems like some sort of miracle drug. Doctors started noticing their diabetic patients shedding a rather large amount of weight (an average of around 8.5 kilograms each, over approximately a year), and realized the drug could be used for weight loss.

Taken every day via needle, the shot is composed of Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone normally released by the body in response to food intake. It stimulates insulin secretion, but its most attractive feature is that it slows your stomach emptying, thereby reducing appetite and making you feel fuller longer. The result? You don’t cram as much food in your face.

Most modern weight-loss pills, medications and surgeries carry the possibility of serious side effects — and Saxenda is not exempt.

The drug has its share of negative effects, including:

  • Reliance on the shot — you start to regain weight as soon as you stop getting inoculations, so this may be a life-long medication once you start
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Potential serious side effects include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Renal impairment
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Elevated heart rate

As with most new drugs, Saxenda will require further research. Until then, there’s always good ol’ diet and exercise. It is currently available in Canada. For more information, check out the above video.