Can You Take Topamax To Lose Weight?

Have you been thinking about taking Topamax for weight loss? This drug can help you get leaner, but there are safer ways to lose the extra pounds. According to the manufacturer's website, Topamax is prescribed for migraine headaches, epilepsy, and seizures. Its side effects include weight loss and a diminished appetite, but you may also experience dizziness, memory problems, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea. There's also a risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections and vision problems, among other adverse reactions.

Topiramate, the active ingredient in Topamax, reduces abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which may help prevent seizures and migraine headaches, notes MedlinePlus. This compound may also improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. But despite its efficacy, it's not suitable for everyone and can cause severe reactions.

For example, the drug may not be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people who drink alcohol, or those with metabolic acidosis, a condition that increases blood acidity. Plus, it can interact with certain medications and dietary supplements, such as antihistamines, contraceptives, blood thinners, and others. In some cases, Topamax may cause back pain, bloody urine, blurred or double vision, loss of vision, palpitations, and more.

Topamax and weight loss

2013 study found that topiramate was more effective for weight loss than a placebo. Additionally, it caused significant improvements in glycemic control, reports the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. Its effects appear to be dose-dependent. Subjects lost more than 5% of their body weight, but some experienced a "pins and needles" sensation, poor mental focus, sleep problems, and itching.

As the researchers note, previous studies had similar findings, but most experts don't recommend using the drug for weight loss because of its side effects. For example, a 2005 study published in BMC Psychiatry found that 10 out of the 12 subjects lost weight after taking 200 to 600 milligrams of topiramate daily for six months to one year. However, a small number of patients experienced hair loss, numbness and tingling, diminished appetite, or a bad taste in the mouth.

The study authors recommend increasing the dosage gradually and drinking plenty of water during treatment to prevent kidney stones. They also warn that Topamax can affect cognitive function, and, therefore, patients should be monitored by a psychiatrist. Other studies suggest that topiramate works best for obese patients and should be used for at least one year to reap the benefits, notes the journal Obesity Research.

Note, though — Topamax isn't a magic pill and doesn't cause dramatic weight loss. Plus, it can affect your mood, alertness, and energy levels, making it difficult to get through the day.