Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The truth about Meratrim (full review)

Meratrim is a newer weight loss supplement that is a patented blend of two herbal supplements, Garcinia mangostana, also known as “mangosteen,” and Sphaeranthus indicus flower heads.

Manufactured by InterHealth Nutraceuticals Incorporated, maker of other brands such as Super Citrimax, Relora, 7-Keto, Aller-7, and others.

InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc. claims that Meratrim can lead to an 11 pound weight loss in just eight weeks, and that it is four times more effective than diet and exercise alone.

The maker of Meratrim cites three clinical studies that support Meratrim’s efficacy as a weight loss subject. 

Each of these three studies will be examined in-depth.

The science behind Meratrim

The first study was conducted by Judith S. Stern and other researchers involved in a collaboration between the University of California Davis and Nagarjuna Hospitals in India (1). 

Some 60 tests subjects who were classified as obese or morbidly obese were split into two subject groups.  Studies in the first group served as a control; they received a placebo pill to take twice daily.  The second group was issued Meratrim capsules containing 400 mg of the supplement blend, which they were instructed to take twice every day.

The study followed the subjects for eight weeks.  At the conclusion of the experiment, Stern and colleagues found that the Meratrim supplement was associated with 8.2 pounds of additional weight lost compared to the placebo: the experimental group lost 11.2 pounds, while the control group lost only three pounds.  More detailed biological analysis found that the Meratrim supplement appeared to increase fat burning activity on the cellular level and inhibit fat synthesis, which might explain the mechanism behind its efficacy.  Wait and hip circumferences also decreased more in the group that took Meratrim.

Judith S. Stern and coworkers followed this study up with another paper the same year with a similar design (2). 

Some 100 participants were split into two groups.  Again, one group received 400 mg of Meratrim twice daily, while the other received a placebo pill.  The groups were followed for eight weeks and examined again.  The results were strikingly similar: 11.4 pounds of weight lost in the subjects on Meratrim versus 3.3 pounds in the subjects on a placebo—a difference of 8.1 pounds. 

Notably, this study also found that blood glucose, cholesterol levels, and fatty acid concentrations in the blood were all lower in the subjects who took Meratrim.  If you’ve studied any chronic health issues, you’ll know that these biological markers are strongly associated with the development of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  The authors hypothesize that Meratrim alters the body’s fat metabolism, which in turn affects glucose, cholesterol, and blood triglycerides in a favorable manner.

The final clinical study on Meratrim has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but has been presented at poster form at the 2015 meeting of the American College of Nutrition in Orlando, Florida (3). 

The study, which was again conducted in India and funded by InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc., followed 57 overweight volunteers for 16 weeks using a very similar study design.  At eight weeks, the difference in weight between the placebo and experimental groups was not statistically significant, but the gap had grown by 16 weeks.  At the study’s conclusion, the group taking Meratrim had lost about 11 pounds, while the group on the placebo had only lost a bit over two pounds.  For the third time, waist and hip circumferences improved commensurately, and blood lipids and cholesterol also changed for the better.

Problems with the research on Meratrim

Are these three studies unimpeachable? Unfortunately, they all share some common flaws that make it hard to issue a resounding endorsement of Meratrim.  First, they’ve all been fairly small—at most, they’ve had 30 or 50 people in each group.  This is not bad, but high-quality clinical trials aim for a few hundred participants per group.  Second, and more importantly, all three studies were conducted in close collaboration with InterHealth Nutraceuticals, which makes Meratrim.  While it’s nice that they fund the research, this opens up the door to any number of potential biases and conflicts of interest.  As esteemed medical researchers John P.A. Ionnidis has demonstrated, industry-funded studies are rife with design flaws and bias.  This can skew their reported results, artificially boosting the apparent efficacy of a  drug or supplement (4). 

None of these things mean these studies are necessarily wrong—rather, it’s more prudent to wait for other researchers and independent scientists to verify the results.  One of the central tenets of scientific research is replication; if a drug or supplement truly works, other researchers in different locations should be able to reproduce the same results.

While Meratrim’s claims of 11 pounds of weight loss over 8 weeks are technically true, this is total weight loss: the weight loss attributable to Meratrim, plus the weight loss attributable to the diet and exercise programs all study participants were using.  These consisted of a 2,000 Calorie per day diet, plus 30 minutes of walking for exercise five days per week.  If you aren’t taking care of diet and exercise too, you can’t expect to see any weight loss.

How do you know if Meratrim is working for you?

Luckily, thanks to the data from the research done so far, it should be obvious fairly rapidly if Meratrim is working for you. 

Given that the peer-reviewed research agrees that you should lose about a pound a week (eight pounds over eight weeks), it should only take an eight week trial of Meratrim to find out if it works for you.  If the pounds aren’t coming off any quicker, or if your waist and hip circumference aren’t decreasing, stick to more diet and exercise. 

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