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Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion, a prescription medication to help treat depression and help people quit smoking. An interesting side effect of Wellbutrin is weight loss!
It is not unusual to use antidepressants for weight loss.
Not surprisingly, a side effect like that catches the interest of a lot of people who are overweight or obese. But is it possible to use Wellbutrin specifically for weight loss?
In this article, we will take a closer look at Wellbutrin (bupropion), its abilities, and other factors that may be of interest to anyone who thinks it may be the right weight loss drug for them.
Wellbutrin and Weight Loss Summary
If you are contemplating using Wellbutrin / Bupropion for its intended usage (antidepressant and antipsychotic use) it is highly advised to seek professional medical advice before taking. The drug has lots of clinical data to back up its claims for its intended usage and therefore highly recommended for use to treat depression and smoking cessation.
If you are considering using Wellbutrin to reduce body weight or bupropion to combat weight gain there are other natural options to consider:
Natural Weight Loss Alternatives
PhenQ is a natural fat burner and appetite suppressant that has helped countless men and women in losing weight quickly and safely. It is available directly from its own official website and does not require a prescription. PhenQ targets several areas of weight loss, it can help to reduce body mass index and baseline body weight.
KetoCharge – a weight loss pill that makes it easy to get into and stay in the keto state – where your body actively burns through fat to energize your brain and body. KetoCharge increases your body’s natural keto production and is ideal if you are on a low carb diet. It can also help you avoid keto flu and guards against brain fog.
Phen24 – another natural weight loss alternative to Wellbutrin. A more complex solution that requires 2 pills to be taken during the day and at night.
What Is Wellbutrin and How Does It Work?
Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is a medication that influences neurotransmitter activity. It was originally developed for treating depression but currently has several other on-label and off-label uses including treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), controlling anxiety, smoking cessation, and weight loss.
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers responsible for relaying messages within the central nervous system. The nerves appear to be able to recycle released neurotransmitters in a process known as reuptake.
Many experts believe depression may be the result of neurotransmitter imbalances.
Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). It works by interfering with the reuptake of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
Norepinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone. The body releases it in response to a perceived threat or stressful event.
In addition to being neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin are “feel good” hormones. As the name suggests, they both have a positive influence on your mood.
These medications can also be used as cognitive enhancers – Nootropics. There are several natural nootropics available over the counter.
By inhibiting the reuptake of these three hormones/neurotransmitters, Wellbutrin keeps them available for carrying messages to the nerves. This suppresses appetite, improves mood, and increases energy.
Most dieters struggle with hunger so Wellbutrin’s ability to control appetite is very useful.
The medication’s ability to positively influence mood and boost energy is highly desirable too because the dietary and lifestyle changes that are necessary to encourage fat burning can bring down even the most cheerful of people and cause diet-related fatigue.
Alternative Brands and Combinations
In addition to being distributed under the name Wellbutrin, Bupropion is also marketed under several other brand names including Aplenzin and Zyban. They target a major depressive disorder
Other Bupropion brand names include:
- Budeprion SR
- Budeprion XL
- Forfivo XL
- Wellbutrin SR
- Wellbutrin XL
Bupropion is the only antidepressant that supports weight loss. However, it isn’t the only medication that was originally intended to serve a different role and then proved to be a useful anti-obesity aid as well.
Naltrexone has a similar history. It was developed as a medication for managing alcohol and opioid addiction and subsequently proved to be capable of helping people to lose weight.
Naltrexone and Bupropion have a synergy that allows them to work well together so the combination is marketed as a dedicated weight loss medication and distributed under the Contrave brand name.
Proof the Wellbutrin Causes Weight Loss and Reduction in Body Weight
If you are wondering if Wellbutrin can genuinely help people to lose weight, wonder no more. It can.
Despite its origins as a treatment for depression, doctors sometimes take advantage of Wellbutrin’s favorable side effect and prescribe it as a weight management medication. They would not do so unless they had faith in its ability to work.
Several studies also support using Wellbutrin for weight loss. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.
Bupropion Study #1 – Lose Weight
In 2016, a group of researchers from several prestigious US institutions set out to evaluate the weight loss capabilities of a number of antidepressant medications, including Bupropion. Some of the participants were smokers, others were not.
It was a long-term study that began in January 2006 and ended in October 2009.
By the end of the study, the non-smokers who received Bupropion had achieved an average weight loss of 7.1 pounds. Interestingly, the smokers who were using Bupropion gained an extra 2.2 pounds in weight during the study.
The participants who got the other antidepressant drugs gained weight too. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27089374/)
Bupropion Study #2 – Combat Weight Gain
In September 2012, Obesity Research published the results of a study that suggests Bupropion is useful for weight maintenance as well as weight loss. In this case, the study period was 24 weeks and 327 obese volunteers took part.
Some of the participants received 300 mg of Bupropion per day. Others got a higher dose of 400 mg per day. As is the case with most studies of this nature, there was also a control group, who were given a placebo.
The research data shows the volunteers who got the 300 mg dose reduced their body weight by an average of 7.2 percent during the 24 weeks, while the higher dose helped the participants to lose 2.8 percent more. However, the study did not end there.
The researchers continued to monitor the participants for a further 24 weeks after they had finished taking Bupropion. The data shows the participants successfully maintained their weight loss during the 24 weeks without the drug. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1038/oby.2002.86)
Wellbutrin Side Effects
Now for the fly in the ointment. Like most medications, Wellbutrin is associated with several side effects, some of them serious.
Fortunately, although the most common Wellbutrin side effects may be unpleasant, they are unusually a cause for concern.
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
Wellbutrin also has the potential to interact unfavorably with certain other medications, so it’s important to let your physician know if you are taking medicines prescribed via an alternative channel, such as a dental practice.
All the prescription medications that are approved for weight loss have the potential to cause side effects. That’s one of the main reasons so many people prefer to use natural alternatives instead.
Some Natural Alternatives to Wellbutrin for Weight Loss
All the best natural alternatives to Wellbutrin provide a combination of plant extracts and other natural ingredients. Working in harmony with your body, these extracts reduce appetite and boost energy levels in a similar way to Wellbutrin.
Some of the natural alternatives also share the medication’s ability to enhance mood. They generally provide additional benefits as well such as faster metabolism and accelerated fat burning.
The best alternatives will generally contain two or more of the following ingredients.
Capsicum pepper extracts are one of the best natural weight loss ingredients in the world. They provide a compound called capsaicin that takes the misery out of weight loss by suppressing hunger.
In addition to controlling hunger capsaicin speeds up metabolism, helping you to burn extra calories and lose weight faster than you could with diet and exercise alone.
Scientists have recently discovered capsicum can further enhance weight loss by activating brown adipose tissue (BAT). This is a special type of fat-burning fat.
Most of the fat in your body is white adipose tissue (WAT). Bat is the fat that encourages it to go away. (https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/95/4/845/4576740)
Capsicum is a powerful ingredient but its fiery nature can make it hard on the stomach. Supplement manufacturers often tackle this issue by using Capsimax.
Capsimax is a high-potency capsicum extract that utilizes a special OmniBead delivery technology that does not release any capsaicin until it’s too far down the gastrointestinal tract to cause any distress.
There is a mountain of research that shows green tea can boost your metabolism and help you to burn extra fat. It’s a natural fat burner that works.
Green tea is also very good for your health. Among other things, it controls the build-up of free radical toxins in the body. These toxins contribute to early aging and can also make your body more susceptible to disease.
Green tea’s ability to control free radical toxins is due to the natural profusion of antioxidants it contains. These are known as “catechins.”
Green tea catechins are also the compounds that affect metabolism and help your body to burn more fat. One of the most important catechins is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Chromium is a mineral you can find in most diet pills. The best ones provide it as chromium picolinate because it’s the easiest form to absorb.
Ingredient absorption is important because you don’t receive any benefits from ingredients if they are unable to pass through your intestinal walls and enter your blood.
Chromium is a popular supplement ingredient because it appears to reduce hunger and food cravings.
Cravings often have nothing to do with hunger. For instance, some people crave sugar and carbs just after their meals.
These cravings are due to elevations in blood sugar and the subsequent battle with insulin. Chromium improves insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.
Many studies support using chromium to control hunger and cravings but there’s still a lot to learn. The results of one study suggest chromium’s ability to reduce hunger could be due to the way it acts on the brain. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18715218/)
Nopal (Opuntia ficus-indica) is another ingredient to look for when you are searching for natural alternatives to Wellbutrin. It’s a cactus extract. People have been using it to hammer their hunger for thousands of years.
The first people to take advantage of this prickly hunger slayer were Indian tribesmen. Experience had taught them chewing pieces of nopal took their hunger away so they used to take advantage of this ability during long hunting trips.
Like green tea, nopal is high in antioxidants. It provides important amino acids as well.
Part of the reason nopal is so good for controlling hunger may be due to its ability to regulate blood sugar and stop it from spiking.
Research shows nopal also has another interesting ability. It’s a fat blocker. Fat is a high-energy food (9 calories per gram) and nopal can reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4109417/)
Caffeine is another ingredient to look out for if you are searching for a safe chemical-free alternative to Wellbutrin. It doesn’t just help you to lose weight faster, it can help make your weight loss journey less unpleasant by fighting diet-related fatigue.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It’s great for boosting energy levels. Everyone knows that but caffeine is sometimes frowned upon.
However, although its true high doses can make you feel jittery and cause other side effects, when you use it sensibly (unless you are hypersensitive to stimulants) caffeine is okay.
The problem is, in addition to being good for energy, caffeine is also a powerful fat burner and some supplement manufacturers use too much.
The truth is, most of the top-performing weight management supplements have caffeine in them but the manufacturers responsible for them use it sensibly. Generally providing an amount that is similar to that of a cup of coffee.
There is a lot of science that backs up using caffeine as a fat burner and one study, involving obese and post-obese people, shows caffeine’s ability to boost metabolism by 3-4 percent.
The researchers in charge of the study achieved this by using commonly consumed doses. This study proves it’s possible to get good results for caffeine without getting heavy-handed and going over the top. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2912010/)
Should You Use Wellbutrin for Weight Loss
It is not unusual to use antidepressants for weight loss.
If you only need something to help you lose a few extra pounds, Wellbutrin won’t be a suitable choice. It won’t be available to you either.
As with similar prescription-only weight loss medications, such as Phentermine and Saxenda, Wellbutrin is only available to people who are extremely overweight or obese or gain weight weight easily.
If your BMI (body mass index) is not sufficiently high, your physician will not offer you a Wellbutrin prescription. That’s the bottom line.
Before prescribing Wellbutrin for weight loss, your physician will also take into account any existing medical problems you have and check how it will react with any medications you are currently using.
If you are not a suitable candidate for Wellbutrin to help against weight gain you could choose to use a natural weight loss supplement instead. You may also want to use an alternative if you have been offered the medication but prefer to keep things natural or want to avoid the risk of side effects.
Even if you do use the medication, it’s important to be aware it does not work for everyone. Results can vary and some of the natural weight loss alternatives may offer a greater level of support.