Apetamin for Weight Gain: Overview and Legality

Many individuals face challenges when trying to gain weight, whether due to genetic factors, medical conditions, low appetite, or the desire to build muscle. In recent times, a trend emerged in the weight gain industry, leading people to turn to an illicit supplement called apetamin pills. Although banned in several countries, including the United States, consumers can still find apetamin through small online websites or social media platforms. In this article, we will discuss how apetamin works for weight gain, its legality, and the potential side effects.

Apetamin: What is it?

Apetamin is a vitamin supplement intended to promote weight gain. Developed by TIL Healthcare, the product contains a combination of cyproheptadine hydrochloride (a prescription-only medication), vitamins, and the amino acid lysine. TIL Healthcare also offers other appetite stimulant products containing cyproheptadine hydrochloride.

While neither vitamins nor amino acids are known to increase appetite, cyproheptadine hydrochloride, an antihistamine used to alleviate allergy symptoms, lists increased appetite as a known side effect.

Why People Take Apetamin

The primary reason people take apetamin is to gain weight. Cyproheptadine hydrochloride has been employed as an appetite stimulant in medical settings, particularly for patients with cystic fibrosis and malnourished children, where low appetite is a side effect. Many individuals also use apetamin to help build muscle, increase strength, and prepare for events like powerlifting meets and bodybuilding competitions. Some naturally thin women have used apetamin products to enhance their figures.

However, the singular benefit of apetamin - weight gain - does not negate the known side effects.

How Apetamin Works

The belief that apetamin promotes weight gain primarily stems from its active ingredient, cyproheptadine hydrochloride. This potent antihistamine has been utilized as an appetite stimulant in malnourished children and individuals with chronic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.

Although the exact mechanism behind cyproheptadine hydrochloride's appetite-stimulating effect remains unclear, several possibilities exist. For example, the medication may increase insulin-like growth factor hormone (IFG-1) in underweight children, which has been linked to weight gain in malnourished individuals. Cyproheptadine hydrochloride might also interfere with the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates appetite, cravings, food consumption, and various hormones.

In animal studies, L-lysine, the amino acid present in apetamin syrup, has led to increased appetite and weight gain. However, no research exists on the appetite effects of L-lysine in humans. Further investigation is necessary to determine whether apetamin is an effective and safe weight gain supplement for human use.

Apetamin Pills vs. Syrup

Apetamin is typically consumed in syrup form, although it is also available in pill form. The primary difference between the two is that apetamin syrup contains a blend of vitamins and amino acids, while tablets or caplets only contain cyproheptadine hydrochloride.

Apetamin: Legality

The sale of apetamin is currently illegal in many countries, including the United States, due to the presence of cyproheptadine hydrochloride, a prescription-only drug. This antihistamine, used to treat allergy symptoms, is available by prescription only because of its potential side effects and safety concerns, such as liver failure. Furthermore, the FDA has not approved or regulated apetamin, leading to the risk of toxicity from undisclosed ingredients.

Apetamin and other products containing cyproheptadine hydrochloride are on the FDA's list of illegal medical imports to be seized and list of unapproved cough, cold, and allergy products. As a result, you will not find apetamin at reputable food, vitamin, or supplement stores in the United States.

Side Effects of Apetamin

The side effects of apetamin pills and syrup primarily stem from its active ingredient, cyproheptadine hydrochloride. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, these side effects include:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Dry sinuses and throat
  3. Drowsiness and fatigue
  4. Dizziness
  5. Nausea
  6. Chest congestion
  7. Headache
  8. Excitement or hyperactivity (particularly in children)
  9. Muscle weakness

Severe Side Effects of Apetamin

  1. Difficulty urinating (despite drinking water)
  2. Distorted vision
  3. Excessive nervousness
  4. Toxic liver failure

In the worst-case scenario, using apetamin or unprescribed cyproheptadine hydrochloride can lead to liver toxicity and liver failure. Excessive weight gain or obesity is also a risk for those who overuse apetamin.

Is It Safe to Use Apetamin for Weight Gain?

Due to legality issues and lack of regulation by the FDA, it is unsafe to trust apetamin products to contain the ingredients listed on the label. Additionally, the side effects of cyproheptadine hydrochloride can be severe without a prescription (and even with a prescription). For these reasons, using apetamin for weight gain is not recommended.

A Word of Advice

If you are looking to gain weight, it is possible to do so without resorting to illegal supplements. Just like weight loss, intentional weight gain requires a personalized eating and exercise plan tailored to your goals.

Health professionals who can help you create a plan include doctors, registered dietitians, and personal trainers. Most people can safely and effectively gain weight by consuming more calories than they burn, focusing on protein intake, and building muscle through weight lifting. By following a well-rounded and carefully designed plan, you can achieve your weight gain goals without relying on potentially harmful and illegal substances like apetamin.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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