Topiramate (Topamax is the brand name of this drug) is an anticonvulsant drug which is used to treat seizures and migraines. But sometimes it is prescribed off-label to treat obesity and control weight gain. In 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved topiramate in combination with phentermine to treat weight gain issues.
How Does Topiramate Help With Weight Loss
According to some researchers, topiramate help to lose weight effectively, but until the time the patient can tolerate its side effects. It was found that the patients (suffering from epileptic seizures), when treated with topiramate, started losing weight.
Let’s find out how the use of topiramate helps one to lose weight.
Reduces Appetite: It is not exactly known how the use of topiramate reduces appetite but some believe that it reduces the appetite by altering the reward process of the brain, thus makes people feel less hungry, which in turn controls the craving for food.
Affects the Addiction Centre of the Brain: According to some, the use of topiramate may affect the addiction centre of the brain. As a result, the person who uses this drug no longer takes interest in food, alcohol, etc. This process, in turn, makes the person lose weight.
Alters the Hormone: The use of this drug may alter the hormones, called cortisol and leptin, which help the body to store less fat and regulate appetite, respectively.
Disorientation: Its use makes the person so disorientated that he or she may forget to eat or may not eat more. As a result of this, the person loses weight.
Ketosis: The use of topiramate promotes ketosis, in which the body uses its own stored fat to give energy to the body. So this process ultimately makes the person lose weight significantly.
Alters the Taste: Many people, who are on topiramate, find the food less palatable, so they tend to eat less . This process helps the person to lose weight.
Increases Metabolism: Some believe that topiramate speeds up the metabolism process. And we know that higher metabolism rate promotes weight loss.
Reduces Saliva Production: The person who takes topiramate, experiences reduction in saliva production. The reduced saliva makes the food tasteless and as a result, the person eats less or sometimes loses the normal appetite.
How to Use Topiramate Properly for Weight Loss
Weight loss is one of the side effects of taking topiramate. It is an off-label drug for weight loss. So in this case, we need to follow certain things before using topiramate to avoid the harmful health concerns.
- Always consult a doctor before taking this medicine and only take the prescribed doses.
- Follow the instructions carefully before taking topiramate for weight loss.
- Take this drug once a day in the morning on an empty stomach. Do not take this drug in the evening as it may hamper your sleep.
- Do not break the capsule or chew it. Swallow the capsule whole.
- Drink more water after taking this drug which will help to prevent kidney stones.
- If you do not lose the desired amount of weight within the 12 weeks of time, then seek the doctor’s consultation to stop taking it.
What is the Right Dose for Taking Topiramate for Weight Loss
The people who want to lose weight can take topiramate twice a day and the dose starts from 25mg to 800 mg per day. The person can start by taking 25 mg topiramate at first and then can increase the dose slowly as recommended by the physician.
As per some researchers, if a person takes between 100 to 200 mg topiramate daily can lose 15% to 20 % of the total body weight and per some speculations, more than 200 mg daily intake of topiramate can make the person lose weight drastically.
It should be kept in mind that the dose of this drug varies from person to person. Also, the doses of this drug also depend upon the strength of this medicine. For weight loss, an adult can take 3.75 milligrams (mg) of phentermine and 23 mg of topiramate once a day for 14 days. After that, your doctor may prescribe you to take 7.5 gms of phentermine and 46gms of topiramate daily once. Then your doctor may increase the dose up to 15 mg of phentermine and 92 mg of topiramate if needed.
Note: The above information only includes the average doses of this medicine. Consult your doctor before taking this medicine to know the exact doses of this drug for your weight loss goal. An overdose of this drug may cause dullness, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, fatigue and decreased awareness.
If you miss the dose, take the dose as soon as possible. But if it is already time for the next dose, then skip it. Remember not to double the doses.
What are the Factors that Influence Topiramate Use for Weight Loss
- A person can be successful to lose weight by using topiramate but the effectiveness of this drug for weight loss depends on various other factors, such as time span, body weight, lifestyle, genetics and other medication.
- If a person has started using topiramate for 1 week, may not experience much weight loss as compared to a person who has been using it for several months. Also, it is noticed that the drug stops working after being used for a longer period of time.
- Lifestyle also plays a great role towards the effectiveness of this drug for weight loss. The person who is stressed out eats junk food, and does not exercise daily may tend to lose less weight in comparison to a person who maintains a healthy lifestyle.
- If you are under medications for some other disease, this drug may not work properly for weight loss as other drugs may interfere with the effectiveness of topiramate.
Topiramate works differently for different people. While some people do not experience any side effects, some experience heavy to moderate adverse side effects.
1. Causes Numbness and Tingling Sensation: Few people reported that they felt a tingling sensation in their arms and legs after using topiramate for weight loss.
2. Causes Tiredness: It may make you feel tired during the early stage of taking this medicine.
3. Decreases Appetite and Taste Change: The usage of this drug affects the appetite of the person and changes the taste.
4. Affects the Concentration Level: Its usage may make it hard for the person to remember the things.
5. Affects Muscle Coordination: You may experience dizziness due to loss of muscle coordination.
6. Nausea and Diarrhea: You may experience nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, fast breathing, restlessness and stomach pain after using topiramate.
- If you are under the medication for some other disease and are going to take topiramate for weight loss, then inform your doctor about it. Also, inform about the herbal products, food supplements and vitamins which you are taking as these may interact with the drug and cause severe side effects.
- If you are taking birth control pills and want to take topiramate for weight loss, then talk to your doctor about it. This drug may lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills.
- Inform your doctor if you get pregnant while on topiramate to take necessary steps because this drug may cause birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate.
- There are not many studies that establish the side effect of this drug both on the mother and child when a breastfeeding mother takes it but still you need to take the doctor’s advice before taking this drug to avoid the possible side effects.
- Inform your doctor if you have any allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicine or if you have any allergy to any foods, preservatives, animals, etc.
- The use of this drug can suddenly decrease the vision. Sometimes it may lead to permanent loss of vision if not treated immediately. So in this case, if you experience any side effects in your eyes after the use of topiramate, then immediately consult your physician.
- It can sometimes cause high fever with increased body temperature and decreased sweating. Consult your doctor if you experience high fever after using this drug.
- Topiramate usage can increase the acid level in the blood which may further result in osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteopenia, kidney stones, etc. It may also hamper your thinking ability. A blood test should be conducted before and after taking topiramate to measure the level of acid in your blood.
- Though it is rare and occurs 1 in 500 cases, topiramate usage can cause suicidal thoughts or actions. Talk to your doctor if you experience the sudden change in your behaviour, such as acting aggressive, becoming angry or violent, feeling agitated, insomnia, panic attacks, the sudden increase in activities and talking.
- It may increase the ammonia levels in the blood which can make you feel tired or slow your alertness and mental activities.
- Follow a diet plan and regular exercise regime along with this drug to lose weight effectively but remember to consult your physician before doing that.
- Women of childbearing age need to consult the doctor about using other possible treatments for weight loss instead of topiramate.
- Avoid taking alcohol while on topiramate as it may cause serious concerns.
- Do not drive or operate machines while on topiramate.
- Store the drug in an airtight container and keep in cool and dry place. Take care to keep it out of the reach of the children.
- Dispose of the outdated medicines.
- And last but not the least – do not stop taking topiramate without consulting your doctor. It may cause serious concerns if you stop it suddenly.
Many people have experienced success in losing weight by using topiramate. You too can use it to lose weight. But ensure to consult a doctor before using this drug to avoid its harmful side effects.