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Weight Loss With HCG Injections: Is it really safe?

Posted Jul 12 2010 11:56pm

by Dr. Kristi Smith of Flourish Chiropractic

The first time I was asked what I thought about weight loss with HCG injections, all I could say was,”HCG as in human chorionic gonadotropin?” I remembered from my medical studies that HCG is present only in pregnant women or when someone has a tumor. This hormone is what pregnancy tests measure.

The idea of using HCG for losing weight immediately made me nervous because if the body only makes it when a tumor or a fetus is involved, it probably shouldn’t be something people purposefully inject. HCG has been correlated with the presence of tumors in the body and is an important tumor marker, although medical researchers have yet to determine whether the hormone produces or is produced by the tumor.

After more research, I understand that the theory (and I emphasize theory) by the Roman doctor who started using HCG for weight loss decades ago is that the HCG hormone “resets” the hypothalamus and programs your body to use up fat storage instead of muscle while on a low calorie diet. And while it does appear to work, there are plenty of things that can go just as theoretically wrong.

For instance, this hormone has also been used to help with fertility. When injected into a female that still gets her cycles, it increases the chance of ovulating. This also means that it increases the possibility of multiple pregnancies. As for the theory of “resetting” the hypothalamus, I could not find the exact mechanism by which this works. Since your hypothalamus partially controls functions including: heart rate, blood pressure, memory, and thyroid actions like temperature control you can affect a LOT more than basic fat burning and hunger pangs.

In men, HCG has been used to counteract the hormonal effects of steroids on the testes. It has such a potent pro-testosterone effect in men that it is considered an “anti-steroid” therapy. While this supposed “performance enhancing effect” does not occur in women, it leads to even more questions about the safety of the drug.

Basically, HCG is used to bring hormonal levels in the body to an optimal fat-burning state. This “therapy” is being sold as safe because they haven’t directly connected any side effects to it. The big hole in this notion of “safety” is that hormonal regulations are so extensive and intricate that there may be long term side effects that cannot be directly traced back to this therapy, including epidemics like cancers of the reproductive organs (breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular). Long term use of this drug may affect the body’s ability to return to homoeostasis – a place of balanced hormonal activity.

This is something I would not recommend and would especially caution men, as well as women with an interest in future children to avoid. I’m not comfortable making any claims about this product because it seems not even the scientific community has really looked too far into it. It’s pretty much regarded as a hormone for pregnancy or from tumors that have a reproductive tissue component to them. It seems that no one is very interested in studying the actual hormone itself, really.

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