Were you trying to lose some extra weight but ended up losing your hair too? Well, this may just be because of your weight loss medicine. Thus, better take a good look at your medicine cabinet!
If you find a medicine with phentermine in it, you may have found your hair loss culprit.
Phentermine is a commonly prescribed drug for losing weight. Although it is effective in helping you shed some weight and is, indeed, a very safe drug, it can also have a few side effects. (1)
One of the most concerning side effects that patients report is hair loss.
Phentermine is an amphetamine, which is a central nervous system stimulant and promotes the release or maintenance of high levels of neurotransmitters known as catecholamines.
Catecholamines are responsible for the reduction in hunger signals and appetite. (1)
According to research, ingestion of amphetamines has been reported to cause alopecia or hair loss since as early as 1965. Some authors suggest that discontinuing such drugs can lead to the regrowth of hair.
Researchers also claim that amphetamines can act as a triggering factor for developing diffuse alopecia, which is a type of hair loss that affects the entire scalp.
Some experts believe that there is no direct relationship between the use of psychotropic medications such as amphetamine (or phentermine) and hair loss, but rapid weight loss can contribute to the loss of hair. (2)
In 1959, phentermine was introduced as a new weight loss drug to replace the drugs given for weight loss at that time that cause serious side effects. The FDA was happy to replace them with Phentermine.
Despite the emergence of several new anti-obesity drugs, phentermine is still prescribed because it has been safely administered for the past 40 years in the USA without serious side effects. (3)
Short-term use is generally accepted as around 3 months, and some experts suggest that prolonged administration may be appropriate if the initial 3-month effect on weight reduction is good. (3)
If you are taking phentermine and are concerned about hair loss, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk.
Experts suggest that patients should take a good diet with all the necessary nutrients when taking phentermine to avoid nutritional deficiencies and maintain hair health.
To help manage hair loss, even that caused by phentermine, it is recommended to eat more vitamin B-rich foods or take a vitamin supplement (only after referring to a doctor).
The vitamin B complex comprises eight water-soluble vitamins that aid in cell metabolism. These vitamins can be obtained by consuming a good diet, except for biotin, which is created by the body itself. (4)
When taking phentermine, you can also increase your dietary intake of vitamin C to help enhance your hair health.
Although insufficient vitamin C can lead to problems with body hair, there is no evidence linking vitamin C levels to hair loss. (4)
Iron is a vital mineral that is necessary for overall health, including healthy hair. Many females with hair loss have been studied to have insufficient iron content in their body.
L-lysine, an essential amino acid found primarily in fish, meat, and eggs, has been shown to increase serum ferritin concentration. (4)
Researchers have found that selenium, a mineral that can be obtained from foods such as meat, vegetables, and nuts, may help improve hair health.
In a study involving infants who were experiencing hair loss, daily selenium therapy (at a dose of 5 μg/kg/day) helped improve their hair condition.
Similarly, a study on patients with cancer going through chemotherapy showed that those who received selenium supplements encountered only nominal hair loss.
Common adverse reactions that can be associated with phentermine are: (6)
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Sweating a lot
- Fast heartbeat
- Heart pounding
These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are usually not serious. However, more serious adverse events can also occur in some rare cases. These comprise atrial fibrillation, psychosis, and hypertension. (6)
Phentermine is a prescription drug available in many different brand names, including Adipex-P, Obenix, and Lonamin. It is sold as 30 mg pills of phentermine base and 37.5 mg pills of phentermine hydrochloride.
The drug is used to help with weight loss and is typically taken once daily at a dose of 30 or 37.5 mg. (6)
Phentermine is a drug used to treat obesity, and it does not cause abuse or psychological dependence (addiction) in patients.
Phentermine therapy does not cause phentermine drug longing, which is a fundamental indication of addiction.
Even in quantities that are very high in comparison to the commonly recommended dose and after taking the medicine for as long as 21 years, amphetamine-like withdrawal does not occur upon sudden treatment termination. (7)
While phentermine can be an effective weight loss medication, it can also have side effects such as hair loss. Patients who are concerned about hair loss are advised to talk to their doctors, who may recommend lifestyle changes or prescribe a hair growth treatment.