I was in the Navy for eight years, stationed out of San Diego, California. We would frequently stop off in Mazatlan Mexico for our liberty port visits. I always looked forward to visiting Mexico, I love the culture, history, people and food! Before each shore leave we would be indoctrinated with the dangers of the area we were to visit, places where we could go and places we were to stay out off. One of those places were the pharmacies. Pharmacies in Mexico are a little different from the pharmacies we have here in the States. Certain items that are deemed illegal here are perfectly legal to sell in the pharmacies in Mexico. One of those items were mexican diet pills.
How The FDA Views Dietary Supplements
Diet pills come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Here in the states they are designated as Dietary Supplements by the Food and Drug Administration. While medical drugs are regulated by the FDA, dietary supplements are treated more like a special food. And because of this, they are not always put through the rigorous tests that standard medical drugs get to go through. This is why a lot of times you will see this warning on dietary supplements, “This statement/product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”.
Generally speaking, a drug in the United States is considered unsafe until proven safe. The opposite is true for dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are considered to be safe, until proven unsafe. Most over the counter diet pills are considered a food and are safe until proven unsafe. A good example of this were the diet pills that used Ephedra. Ephedra has been used in Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years. Other names that have been used for Ephedra are Mormon tea or Indian tea. This stimulant has been widely used by athletes as a performance enhancing drug but also as a weight loss aid. But because of its nature (early 2000), it was considered safe and fell under the FDA radar. Its a little more complicated than that, but for the sake of brevity we don’t have to go further into details.
Dangers Of Diet Pills For Weight Loss
In the Navy we would have biannual fitness checkups called a "PRT". Every six months we would all get together and would have to perform different fitness tests. Some of these test included running 1.5 miles in a specific amount of time, being able to touch our toes and doing a certain amount of pushups in two minutes. On top of all this we had to also meet special weight requirements dependent on our age and gender. For me, I have always had an issue with my weight. What seemed so easy for other people to maintain was a daily struggle for me. In the military, depending on how needed people were at the time, if you failed specific number of PRT’s, they would kick you out. So any advantage I could find I would use (legally or course), besides normal exercising normally for weight loss. In early 2000 I started taking special weight loss pills that contained Ephedra. I dropped weight like a rock. I was shaky all the time, the effects of Ephedra are akin to drinking five cups of coffee at once, but I was in shape, within my weight range and passing my PRT’s. Most of my other shipmates were doing this as well. Things were looking good.
Then people started to die. We started hearing about Marines collapsing, hospitalized and even dying from this supposedly wonder supplement. Thats when the Food and Drug administration stepped in. While first being classified as a dietary ‘food’ supplement, which means its safe until proven unsafe, with people dying, the FDA evaluated it. And in 2004 Ephedra was banned.
So while you couldn't find Ephedra in the diet pills within the stores anymore in the United States, I still had friends who were going down to Mexico and coming back with mexican diet pills that contained Ephedra. Then the hammer came down on the military side. Ephedra was basically blacklisted, consuming it in any form was a punishable offense. It was back to the old basics if we wanted to lose belly fat.
I love visiting Mexico, the people and the culture. But some regulatory commissions are in place here in the United States for a reason. While Mexico does have health departments and regulations, they are not always strictly enforced as they are here in the United States. Because of this you can acquire certain medications easier than you could here in the states, BUT you never know exactly what you're getting and thats the risk. So the next time you're down south and come across a pharmacy selling mexican diet pills, be wary! Some items are banned for a reason.