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Orlistat- main ingredient contained in Alli

Orlistat refers to the saturated derivative of lipstatin, which itself is an effective natural inhibitor of pancreatic lipases isolated from the bacterium Streptomyces toxytricini. Orlistat was however chosen over lipstatin for development as an anti-obesity drug because it is more stable and less complex.

Being the active ingredient in Alli, Orlistat is known to promote weight loss by decreasing the amount of dietary fat absorbed in your intestines. Its primary function is preventing the absorption of fats from the food you eat by acting as a lipase inhibitor, thereby reducing caloric intake. It is better recommended for use when utilized together with a healthcare provider-supervised reduced calorie diet.

How does orlistat really work in the body ?

Orlistat works by inhibiting gastric and pancreatic lipases, the enzymes that are responsible for breaking down triglycerides in the intestine. By blocking the activity of lipase, triglycerides from the diet, instead of being hydrolyzed are excreted unchanged. After an oral dose of the drug, only trace amounts of orlistat are absorbed systemically; followed by lipase inhibition within the gastrointestinal tract.

Being a very active component, the recommended orlistat dose is 120 mg capsule orally thrice daily. The administration should be during or within 1 hour after taking a meal containing fat. When taking the drug (Alli), health experts recommend that you follow a nutritionally balanced, low-calorie diet containing less than 30% calories from fat. At the standard prescription dose of 120 mg three times daily, before meals, orlistat is capable of preventing the absorption of about 30% of dietary fat. When taking Alli, ensure to combine appropriate diet and exercise. The weight starts to decrease within 2 weeks of initiation of orlistat.

Research has shown that significant weight loss occurs when orlistat is used for at least 2 months; an average of 5.6 kg can be lost after use of the drug for 6 months. Orlistat is also known to be effective in BMI reduction, also causes a significant reduction in BMI, waist circumference, total cholesterol, and LDL levels. Orlistat also modestly reduces blood pressure and appears to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Orlistat may not be safe for the following groups of people:

  • Pregnant women: Orlistat should not be used in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. It is a pregnancy category B drug.
  • Children: However, under a doctor’s supervision, orlistat may be safe for adolescent patients with obesity.
  • People with Renal impairment: A doctor’s supervision is required in this case.
  • People with Hepatobiliary disease: Orlistat use requires caution in patients with obstructed bile duct and liver problems.

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