Unnatural chemicals and medications make you fat

Have you ever wondered if the obesity epidemic in America is due to more than just over-eating and poor impulse control? I sure have! I have observed the rising prevalence of overweight youth and middle age adults and have discovered it’s much more than just poor impulse control.

One question I often get from patients goes something like this: “I try and eat right and I exercise, so what can be causing me to gain weight like this?”

My typical answer to the question is that you must first take an honest look at the foods you eat and when and why you eat them. Then you must ask yourself whether you eat late at night, if you eat under stress and some other food-related questions. Finally, you have to examine what medications you are currently taking.

Why? Well, we all know that the most common cause for abnormal weight gain is the unhealthy foods we put into our mouth (in addition to genetic predisposition).  But what many don’t know is there is a host of medications that also cause weight gain.

In this weight loss article, I’ll share with you the unnatural chemicals and medications to eliminate from your life which could be making you fat.

So let’s begin by reviewing medications that contribute to abnormal weight gain.

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Medications that contribute to abnormal weight gain

Did you know that there are many medications that can and do cause weight gain? Here’s a list of them:

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants, especially the SSRI family (Prozac, Zoloft, Zyprexa, Paxil), are medicines that increase fluid retention and cause edema. Their weight gain effect is reversible however. For example, Zyprexa made by Eli Lilly caused 20 pounds or more weight gain in 30 percent of users after the first year of use, according to a study.
  • Antihistamines: One example is cyproheptadine (Periactin) and similar drugs for allergies.
  • Bipolar medications: Lithium, a common bipolar disorder medication puts on weight.
  • Breast cancer chemotherapies: the mechanism of weight gain in these is not well understood.
  • Contraceptives: Synthetic estrogen and progesterone found in oral contraceptives are a commonly found to be a cause for fluid retention and increased appetite.
  • Corticosteroids: Prednisone use longer than three months will usually cause irreversible weight gain. I have met several patients over the years who were very upset that they were never told of this well-known side effect—even 50 to 100 pounds within two years. It’s a great anti-inflammatory for a short course or with breaks between courses.
  • Diabetes medications: Diabeta and Diabinese can sometimes cause weight gain.
  • Heartburn treatments: acid pump blockers Prevacid® and Nexium® can cause slight weight gain.
  • Migraine relievers/seizure control medications: The anti-seizure medication depakote (valproic acid) is known to cause weight gain.
  • Anti-nausea medications: The phenothiazines are used to treat nausea or dizziness but can cause weight gain.
  • Pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen can cause weight gain.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Synthetic estrogens or progesterone can cause you to gain weight. Synthetic hormones are known to have a xenobiotic effect. Xenobiotics are biologically active foreign molecules that cause disease.

Xenobiotics

Let me explain how these hormones and other unnatural chemicals contribute to abnormal weight gain. What we know about adipose tissue is a reservoir for inflammatory chemicals. Chemicals such as pesticides, industrial compounds, cosmetic ingredients, medications and synthetic hormones make their way into you and if they don’t get sufficiently detoxified and eliminated via your urine or stool, then they will bestored in your fat for years. [1] [2] Then when they are released from adipose (fat) cells into your bloodstream they carry inflammation to the rest of your body.

One example is the visceral adipose tissue (belly fat)-heart disease connection. Research has actually shown how environmental chemicals stored in your body fat contribute greatly to abnormal blood sugar, cognitive decline and even depressed mood. And in my reading I have come to understand that any molecule that is unnatural to the human body is a candidate to disrupt normal cell-to-cell communication and the complexity of delicate hormone synthesis and target cell effect, and any other metabolic processes. Xenoestrogens are hormone mimickers and are thought to block the natural effect of endogenous hormones or else trigger a false message.

As I see, it you can do one or all of the following:

  1. Eliminate your ongoing exposure to xenobiotics from what you ingest or apply to your skin/hair (personal care products).
  2. Beef up your liver and kidney function. Another way is with supplements known to maximize your liver detoxification pathways such methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), betaine hydrochloride, and D-glucarate, and these three which boost glutathione synthesis: milk thistle (silymarin), n-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC), and R-lipoic acid.
  3. Do a bile system cleanse (see below) twice yearly and eat nutrient-rich, high fiber, mostly raw foods. Note that these foods are naturally high in phytochemicals, thus consistently keeping your metabolism running clean [3] and your bowels moving. You can also supplement with green superfood nutrient powders in smoothies and fresh juicing. Consider probiotics for gut bowel health.

Bile tract cleanse protocol

Your liver drains out chemical wastes into the biliary tract. Bile is the fluid that carries it out and dumps it into the small intestine to be carried out in your stool. The simplest half-day protocol for bile system cleansing is below. Ingredients include 2 cups of cold virgin olive oil, 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, pineapple or V8 juice, a measuring cup or tablespoon-size measuring spoon, and a pitcher of water.

  • Noon: Stop eating all solid food.
  • 6:30 p.m.: Stop drinking all fluids.
  • 7 pm: Drink ¼ cup of olive oil followed immediately with 1-2 TBSP lemon juice. Relax supine for 15 minutes.
  • 7:15 p.m.: Repeat this exact dosage above (¼ cup olive oil and fresh lemon juice) and continue repeating dose every 15 minutes until you have swallowed the entire pint (2 cups) of olive oil. If there is any lemon juice left, then drink it all.
  • Hours later: after completing olive oil and lemon juice, lie on your right side and go to sleep for the night. You can expect to have an urge for a bowel movement around 2 a.m. or sometime in the early morning.
  • Notes: to reduce terrible nausea or vomiting sensations, use peppermint oil in the olive oil, or chase the olive oil with a small amount of V8 or pineapple juice until you can resume taking the plain olive oil and lemon juice. Try stretching it to 30 minutes between doses if it gets hard to swallow the olive oil and lemon juice. All the green you see in your stool is bile that you have effectively evacuated. Some stones may or may not be there, too, depending on what was evacuated from your gall bladder.

[1] Adeshina F, Todd EL. Organochlorine compounds in human adipose tissue from north Texas. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1990;29:147-156.
[2] Lim JS, Son HK, Park SK, Jacobs DR Jr, Lee DH. Inverse associations between long-term weight change and serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants. Int J Obes (London); 2010 Sep 7.
[3] Roundtree R. The Use of Phytochemicals in the Biotransformation and Elimination of Environmental Toxins. IN Medicines from the Earth 2003: Official Proceedings. Brevard, North Carolina: Gaia Herbal Research Institute; 2003:115-128.

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Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.