Generally speaking, a natural weight loss pill is considered that because it is derived from a natural source. However, one must remember that most medicine is in fact derived from a natural source. In addition, there are many substances that are natural, but are not considered safe. Tobacco and marijuana are both plants and therefore "natural." Obviously, they are both potentially dangerous substances.
There are two major ingredients being used in today's natural weight loss pill market.
Ephedra is derived from Ma Huang. It is used in natural weight loss products such as Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Metabolife and Ripped Fuel. Ephedra increases metabolism when combined with aspirin and caffeine. It works as a thermogenic, increasing heat storage within the body and burning calories. It is also considered a stimulant that suppresses appetite. This double whammy effect does aid in weight loss. Unfortunately, the side effects can be severe.
The natural weight loss pill Ephedra has been associated with heart attack, stroke, seizures and death. Ephedra increases blood pressure and heart rate. For this reason, many companies are now turning to a new ingredient, synephrine.
Citrus aurantium commonly referred to as bitter orange has an active component called synephrine. Natural weight loss pill products using bitter orange also utilize the thermogenic properties as seen in Ephedra; however, the general consensus is that it does not affect the heart. Does this make it safer? While serious side effects have not been shown, long-term studies have not been done on synephrine, so it is unclear as to whether this natural weight loss pill has significant side effects.
There are also other natural weight loss products that use less harmful ingredients. Chitosan is used as a fat blocker. Side effects are generally gastrointestinal problems such as gas and diarrhea. For all the discomfort of taking a Chitosan-based product, it has not been shown to produce a significant amount of weight loss. St. John's wort works as an appetite suppressant but also carries some gastrointestinal side effects, adverse drug interactions, allergic reaction and insomnia. Just like Chitosan, significant weight loss has not been shown.
All of the above natural weight loss products can be costly. As with all weight loss products, none of them will work if poor diet and exercise habits persist. A pill, whether it is natural or a prescription drug is not a magical means of losing weight. Any weight loss aid relies on the dieter's ability to stick with a healthful diet and exercise regime.
The bottom line is that a natural weight loss pill, especially one containing Ephedra, can have serious side effects. Just because it's labeled "natural" doesn't make it safe.