HCG and Weight Loss (Or Lack Thereof)

Where I work in Scottsdale, Arizona, is probably second only to Hollywood in the med-spa business. 

It’s reassuring to know that day or night, weekend or even holiday, in an emergency I can get a walk-in Botox shot or an HCG supplemented diet. I sleep better knowing these things.

Hypodermic Needle Stomach Injection 3-1-08 8278photo © 2008 Steven Depolo | more info (via: Wylio)

The HCG diet ads are so plentiful, I don’t even hear them anymore. It was with mild surprise one day when I realized they were actually talking about injecting people with HCG as part of a diet. HGH seemed plausible, but HCG?

For those that think acronyms are a silly, HCG is Human Corionic Gonadotrophin and HGH is human growth hormone. HCG is a pregnancy hormone, and it is secreted by the placenta and helps keep progesterone levels high to maintain the pregnancy. It’s the hormone that is tested to confirm pregnancy. HCG doesn’t seem a likely candidate for injecting non-pregnant people, even males, to assist in weight loss.

This is the second or third cycle for this particular medical diet fad. It tends to re-emerge roughly every 25 years, which perhaps not coincidentally, is about once every generation. If you remember HCG not working in the 70s, you are not likely to pay for it today. How in the world did this pregnancy hormone get hooked up with weight loss?

For that we have to travel back in time to the early 1950s and to India. India was a brand new country at that time, having just emerged from British rule. There were still some British medical types hanging around acting like they owned the place. One such British endocrinologist was Dr. Simeons. He did studies on pregnant Indian women on starvation diets (pleasant thought – not! There is no mention on why Dr. Simeons didn’t do this research on pregnant British women in London. Medicine was a lot more wild and wooly in those days, which are thankfully passed. But I digress…)

Anyway, he injected these starving pregnant women with HCG and they seemed to lose more fat than protein. He also studied overweight males with Froelich’s Syndrome (pituitary failure). They were also put on a 500 calorie diet and given HCG shots. They also managed to lose considerable weight. He theorized that giving supplemental HCG in extreme diets hastens weight loss and spares protein-producing for a more healthful weight loss. This doesn’t even make medical sense, but this became quite the fad in Italy where Dr. Simeons had a clinic. Pretty soon everyone was injecting all manner of HCG preparations in the pursuit of lean living.

Rapid weight loss that spares protein and preserves vigor is the holy grail of the dieting world. Many attempts to prove Dr. Simeons’ theories about HCG-assisted weight loss have failed to reproduce any measurable benefit from the HCG. It seems the severe 500 calories restriction diet was the actual cause of the weight loss, and it had nothing to do with HCG. That is not too surprising since HCG is a pregnancy hormone.

Lose weight nowphoto © 2009 Alan Cleaver | more info (via: Wylio)

Injecting HCG as part of a diet was popular in the 50s, in the 70s, and now in the first decade of the new millennium. HCG is still little more than an expensive placebo. Its popularity seems to be related to the income it produces rather that any measurable medical benefit, other than to fetuses. It’s really hard to sell an unusually harsh diet, but combine it with a magic weight loss shot with a medical name, and you have an industry.

Take care,

Dr. B

U.S. HealthWorks’ Dr. Thomas Miller recently spoke with KXLY-TV in Spokane about the HCG diet. His interview can be found here.

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One response to “HCG and Weight Loss (Or Lack Thereof)

  1. Amazing Post! Just bookmarked your site for further visits

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