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I would like to start out with an unequivocal statement about the use of amphetamines in weight loss: They absolutely do work. In fact, they change your metabolism so completely they were banned in the United States over 50 years ago in their prescription form, and their major herbal "equivalent," ephedra, has been banned since 1995. However, a new amphetamine drug for controlling binge eating disorder, lis-dexamphetamine, marketed as Vyvanse, equivalent to a medication already on the market as a treatment for ADHD, made its FDA-approved debut January 15, 2015.

Half a century ago, amphetamines were commonly regarded as "pep pills." They weren't illegal. In fact, they were encouraged for soldiers in battle, truck drivers doing long-haul routes, and teenagers trying to fit into prom dresses and tuxes. It was generally known that things could go very, very wrong if you took too many of them. Tragic stories of young people who overdosed and died, based on real occurrences, circulated throughout the population. 

The problem was (and is) always dosing. Taking a small amount of one of the two chemically similar forms of amphetamine, levoamphetamine or dextroamphetamine (Adderall) stimulates mind and body. Users actually think more clearly. Their bodies burn sugar more quickly, and they are less prone to sugar highs and sugar crashes (at low doses). A small amount of amphetamine increases the brain's sensitivity to the pleasure chemical dopamine. This can induce a feeling of euphoria, sexiness, and satisfaction, without the user's losing control. Students all over the world (up to 35 percent of university students use amphetamines diverted from the treatment of ADHD) can attest that small doses of dextroamphetamine increase working memory (the ability to keep facts in your consciousness), autobiographical memory (the ability to recall the who, what, when, where, and why of an event), and the ability to focus on a single activity or a single goal.

Too much amphetamine is not a good thing. Higher doses of amphetamines causes people to "freak out," hence the term "meth freaks." They increase the metabolism so that muscles and gum tissue begin to break down. They increase body temperature. They interfere with memory and self-control.

The way amphetamines enhance weight loss with dieting, in small doses, or even without dieting, in high doses, is increasing the body's use of sugars. The now largely forgotten advice about how to use pep pills to lose weight came with a suggestion to take one or two aspirin a day to counteract any fever. When amphetamines were restricted, dieters turned to herbal analogues, such as ephedra. This herb contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which act in a way similar to dextroamphetamine, but not as strongly. Dieters were also advised to take aspirin along with ephedra to counteract any muscle loss.

Vyvanse has hit the market as a way to get the benefits of amphetamines for appetite control without the most dangerous side effects. Available only with a doctor's prescription (and you will also have to provide tracking information to the pharmacy), the drug gets reasonably good results in preventing compulsive, binge eating. People who use the medication typically lose 4 to 5 kilograms over 12 weeks. A slightly lower (50 mg) dose actually stimulates more weight loss than a higher (70 mg) dose.

What kinds of problems could you run into if your doctor puts you on Vyvanse? The most common complication is insomnia. About 25 percent of users report problems falling asleep. In adults, it tends to cause dry mouth, in 30 to 40 percent of cases, and in about 5 percent of the children who are given it, Vyvanse can induce anorexia, which would require cessation of the drug (but also accomplish desired weight loss). 

Vyvanse is the only amphetamine I would consider for weight control. You are never sure what you are actually getting when you buy something someone cooked up in a bathtub, and purchasing unregulated amphetamines is a serious crime. 

Stay safe. Lose weight without ruining your life. Stick to prescribed amphetamines in limited doses with regular doctor supervision.

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