In the 1950's, British physician Albert Simeons proposed that a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women could help to bring about weight loss. He believed that an injection of this hormone could allow people to survive on 500 calories a day, burn stored fat, and reduce appetite. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (H.C.G.) was tested extensively, but lost popularity until Kevin Trudeau wrote a book that advocated its use.
All studies on H.C.G. seem to follow the same pattern. Those who tested it alongside normal diets experienced no changes in weight, but those who followed Dr. Simeon's plan to restrict calorie intake to approximately 500 calories per day lost weight. Of course, it is really no scientific breakthrough to discover that starvation causes weight loss.
For some victims of this sham, the most bitter realization will be that this diet also relies on the placebo effect, as will be explained in the next section. To understand this upcoming point, readers must note that true H.C.G. is only available by way of a prescription in the United States, which is what first clued us into something about all of the Internet and retail offers.
Most H.C.G. Is Glorified Water
The H.C.G. offered by the plethora of Internet scammers and retail stores is actually a homeopathic preparation. Homeopathic mixtures nowadays are based on the phoney theory of "water memory", including homeopathic solutions of H.C.G.
Due to real H.C.G. being available only by prescription, the non-prescription homeopathic preparations cannot contain any amount of the substance. Thus, the H.C.G. that is usually bought is homeopathic. It is only water, in other words. Luckily for the crooks, there is no way to test for the special homeopathic "memory" of their water products.
"Beyond questions about the effect of HCG, doctors also warn that the 500-calorie diet doesn't provide the body with enough carbs or protein and will send the body into a state called ketosis. Ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant."
-- Dr. Craig Primack, American Society of Bariatric Physicians
Ketosis is a dangerous condition which leads to the blood pH becoming so extremely acidic, that it is corrosive to internal organs. This state, induced by starvation, can cause long-term damage to the body. It has happened with both the homeopathic and the real H.C.G. versions of the diet, because people still attempt to survive from 500 calories. Ironically, a body will react to this perceived emergency state by attempting to metabolize everything into fat cells, because the diet triggers emergency starvation hormones. This can cause obesity problems for decades. Once the emergency starvation hormones have been activated, they are difficult to turn off. As far as the body is concerned, it is a live or die situation.
The Real H.C.G.
Prescription human chorionic gonadotropin is also an F.D.A. approved fertility drug, and it is listed in the Food and Drug Administration's Pregnancy Category X of drugs. That means anyone who takes H.C.G. while being pregnant is likely to have a child with birth defects. How is that for a known side effect of a fertility drug? Any serious research will produce a long list of potential adverse reactions. Most doctors, even those who specialize in weight loss, will not advocate or prescribe H.C.G. for these reasons. However, there are some dishonorable doctors who will do it when they are pressured by ignorant patients. The following list is not complete, but it gives a glimpse into the reality of H.C.G. consequences.
Known Effects of Real H.C.G.
Pharmaceutical H.C.G. is sometimes administered through a weekly injection, or in drops that are placed under the tongue. These are generally combined with the starvation diet to yield forced weight loss. One could just as easily substitute chemotherapy drugs for even faster weight loss. H.C.G. will cause a loss of muscle and organ tissues. A follower of the H.C.G. diet certainly will not be exercising, and he may have trouble with routine walking, due to the 500 calorie diet. The full effects of the protocol are sometimes only felt years later, when catastrophic damage surfaces. The delayed discovery of such side effects are usually not properly attributed to their real cause, so it is difficult to quantify how much damage the H.C.G. regimen does to its user population.
Most people who believe that they have tried H.C.G. are lucky to have only experienced the homeopathic memory water scam, and merely lost some money that would have been better spent on real dietary improvements. On the other hand, those who get a prescription for the real thing are getting much more than they bargained for. Our concern with the pharmaceutical is actually related to its efficacy. Starvation creates more fat in the long term, since a body will begin defending itself by storing everything as fat, in its emergency famine mode. Toxic pharmaceuticals frequently have the same fattening effect, because a body will protect itself by storing toxins that it cannot flush inside newly created fat cells. It is easy to lose short-term weight through poisoning, but this is hardly health wise. Instead, people should know that serious risks accompany this "wonder drug", and it is not part of legitimate alternative medicine. Its embrace by homeopaths seems to have created a bogus connection between H.C.G. and legitimate natural medicine, when no such association exists. Usage of this hormone comes with a high price. Read the Dieting Right article for an effective way to lose weight, without starving, and without any negative effects.
Unfortunately, natural and legitimate alternative medicines are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "homeopathic" by those who do not recognize the substantial differences. The same labeling problem occurs for legitimate herbalists and everyone else involved in legitimate holistic health therapies. It is segments like homeopathy, which lead to alternative medicine as a whole being dismissed as quackery. It is actually quite understandable, and sad.