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At least one of the Hydroxycut products is safe and significantly effective, despite a troubled history for the company.

Hydroxycut is a Canadian-made weight loss supplement that had to be completely reformulated after the United States banned the use of ephedra, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine (all substances that actually worked) in weight loss products about 15 years ago. There had been some tragic deaths of young people using ephedra to get high, and makers of crystal meth had figured out to use the product in making illegal drugs. 

Hydroxycut removed ephedra in 2004. However, after taking out the ephedra there were problems with its replacement, bitter orange extract. Some people had liver failure after taking the product. In 2009, Iovate Health Sciences Inc., which makes the supplement, came up with the current formula, which uses caffeine plus extracts of several herbs, lady's mantle, cumin, olive leaf, and wild mint. Some Hydroxycut products also contain green coffee bean extract. There are multiple formulations of Hydroxycut, some of which have been pulled from the market after user problems even since 2009.

Of all of the ingredients in Hydroxycut, the only one for which there is some evidence of actual efficacy is green coffee bean extract. Despite the fact that green coffee bean extract has been recommended by Dr. Oz, there is a little evidence to believe it can work. It's not something that is going to help you lose a pound a day, but it may stimulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism enough to help you lose four or five pounds (about two kilograms) over three months without making other changes in your diet and exercise routine.

Unfortunately, there have been dozens of new reports of consumer illnesses even after three rounds of product changes. The medical literature reports cases of:

  • Vanishing bile duct syndrome. 
  • Acute liver failure. Over the past 17 years, at least three users of Hydroxycut have had to undergo liver transplants.
  • Blood clots in the small intestine, causing death.
  • Chronic liver failure (at least 130 cases).
  • Kidney failure.
  • Blood clotting irregularities.
  • Ischemic colitis, failure of circulation to the colon. This is a problem that will express itself when someone gets dehydrated, such as at a summer sporting event.
  • Vascular spasms in the brain in someone who was using both Hydroxycut and Celexa (citalopram).
  • Coronary artery aneurysm. (This was in a user of the older product that still contained ephedra.)
  • Hypertensive retinopathy (damage to blood vessels at the back of the eye).
  • Seizures. (These also occurred to users of the older product that contained ephedra.)

When problems show up, it is usually about two weeks to a month after the dieter starts using the product. When Hydroxycut seems to have caused liver failure, there is evidence of activation of the immune system to attack liver tissue as if it were infected, even though it clearly was not.

With all the evidence of dangerous side effects, why would people continue to use Hydroxycut products? The thing is, they used to really work, and at least one product still does:

  • The Hydroxycut product with green coffee bean extract stimulated an average of nearly 11 pound (5 kilograms) extra weight loss in dieters who used it for 60 days.
  • It's all but certain that the weight loss action of the product is due to the green coffee bean extract, but the manufacturer has to add other ingredients to avoid a claim of patent infringement by competing companies. The extra herbs are in the product for them, not for you.

I'd still say that Hydroxycut Pro-Clinical is OK and probably helpful for weight loss. There are no reports of liver damage from this product. (Part of the reason there have been so many product problem reports is that Hydroxycut is, after all, the bestselling weight loss aid in the world.) It really does seem to help people lose weight when they stick to their diet plans. Just don't overdo caffeine (coffee, tea, or soft drinks) when you are using Hydroxycut Pro-Clinical. And don't take other herbs in addition to Hydroxycut. Let this one product and your diet efforts do the work.



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