The HCG Diet Scam

About every 5 to 10 years there seems to be a wave of hype through different areas of the country about the HCG Diet. The HCG diet has been known about for over 50 years.

What is HCG?

HCG may have additional functions; for instance, it is thought that HCG affects the immune tolerance of the pregnancy. Early pregnancy testing, in general, is based on the detection or measurement of HCG. Because HCG is produced also by some kinds of tumor, HCG is an important tumor marker, but it is not known whether this production is a contributing cause or an effect of tumor growth.

So what the heck does HCG have to do with a diet?

Typically it becomes a rave for a short time because the “Doctor” (I use that term very loosely) sells the HCG to the patient and then of course puts the person on an insane diet of 500 calories or less and tells them to do moderate exercise (45 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 days per week) and the patient loses weight at an extreme rate. The latest we heard in Mt. Shasta is that a friend of one of our patients lost 45 pounds in just 30 days!! Do you actually think that is even the least bit reasonable? Do you think that is safe? Do you actually think that all that weight loss was from fat?Of course not. Not only is that crazy but completely unsafe. If a physician or any healthcare practitioner is allowing that to happen I personally consider that malpractice.

We had another patient come into the Redding office that went to a medical clinic in Redding and bought nasal HCG spray and was given a piece of paper that described a 500-calorie-per-day diet and the recommendations for the same exercise regimen as above. The patient reports not seeing a practitioner in 7 weeks nor any other healthcare worker in that clinic. That sounds really safe doesn’t it? So, where did all this hype come from? Who in their right mind would come up with something like this?

The next section below in blue is by Dr. Stephen Barrett, MD who has a website called the Diet Scam Watch:

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Albert T. Simeons, a British-born physician, contended that HCG injections would enable dieters to subsist comfortably on a 500-calorie-a-day diet. He claimed that HCG would mobilize stored fat; suppress appetite; and redistribute fat from the waist, hips, and thighs [1]. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims [2-13]. Moreover, a 500-calorie (semi-starvation) diet is likely to result in loss of protein from vital organs, and HCG can cause other adverse effects. Gabe Mirkin. M.D. has noted: At one time, HCG was the most widespread obesity medication administered in the United States. Some doctors liked it because it assured them of a steady clientele. Patients had to come in once a week for an injection [14]. Government Regulation in 1976, the FTC ordered the Simeon Management Corporation, Simeon Weight Clinics Foundation, Bariatrics Management Corporation, C.M. Norcal, Inc., and HCG Weight Clinics Foundation and their officers to stop claiming that their HCG-based programs were safe, effective, and/or approved by the FDA for weight-control. Although the order did not stop the clinics from using HCG, it required that patients who contract for the treatment be informed in writing that:


Since l975, the FDA has required labeling and advertising of HCG to state: HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets. Promotion By Kevin Trudeau, negative studies, and government action reduced the use of HGC injections for weight control close to zero. 

However, their promotion by infomercial king Kevin Trudeau may cause their use to increase. His 2007 book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About, claims that “an absolute cure for obesity was discovered almost fifty years ago” but was “suppressed” by the AMA, the FDA, and “other medical establishments through out the world.” Trudeau further claims that until now, “this miracle weight loss breakthrough has been hidden from the public so that drug companies can make billions of dollars selling their expensive drug treatments and surgical procedures for obesity.”

The alleged cure consists of HCG injections plus 50 to 60 required and recommended do’s and don’ts [16]. In September 2007, the FTC charged Kevin Trudeau with violating a court order by misrepresenting the contents of the book. In infomercials, Trudeau falsely claimed that the book’s weight-loss plan is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. Previous FTC action had led to a court order banning from using infomercials to sell any product, service, or program except for books and other publications The order specified that he not misrepresent the content of the books. The FTC is now charging that he violated that narrow exemption [7]. Ahhh!!!, the dreaded conspiracy theory. The “magic cure” that nobody wanted you to know about. The AMA and FDA suppressed to keep it a secret. Come on!!! There has been study after study after study (see the bibliography) that could never reproduce the supposed results that Dr. Simeon did that showed all of these benefits. It has been scientifically proven to NOT have any of these cure-all magic benefits that we all want. But man doesn’t it sound great? All these reported physiological benefits and look at the weight loss, WOW!! 

So what about the medical consequences and side effects? Take a close look at what their literature promotes. Do they mention anything about consequences or side effects?The HCG diet (using daily hcg injections) will help you lose 1-3 pounds per day. The HCG-diet combines the daily injections with a very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day).500-calories per day is severely restrictive! It is not only restrictive, it is just plain CRAZY!!! Taking a patient even below 800 calories/day is just not done anymore. In fact, it is not enough calories to support normal brain function. Your body will compensate by using stores of glycogen, protein (muscle) and some fat, which lowers your resting metabolism. Before you can lose true weight, you will be so irritable, lightheaded, and cranky that you’ll reach for whatever food you can get your hands on and have a field day. 

Even if you do lose weight what did you lose? Answer: Muscle, then a bit of muscle, and even some ah? MORE MUSCLE”get my driftNegative side effects: The common side effects include headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, confusion, and dizziness. Some women also develop a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS); symptoms of this include pelvic pain, swelling of the hands and legs, stomach pain, weight gain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting/nausea, and/or urinating less than normal.

HCG ban: The hormone was recently added to the list of “banned substances” in Major League Baseball, as it was becoming increasingly popular among steroid users. Athletes turned to this, among other “performance enhancing drugs” because it “mitigates the side effects of ending a cycle of steroids.” This is what Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers got suspended this year for. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Weight loss is hard work you have to burn stored energy off of your body and it won’t come in a potion, pill, or injection. There is no magic pill or shot and there never will be. Remember it is not just weight loss it is what is the weight loss from. The most “dangerous” thing you should be doing to your body is trying a new exercise that intimidates you like rock climbing or completing a mini triathlon not putting a female pregnancy hormone into your body. Below is another description from see what you think.

What Is HCG?

What is HCG? Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in a woman’s ovary, and stimulates the release of the egg during ovulation. HCG is used to cause ovulation and to treat infertility in women, and to increase sperm count in men. HCG is also used in young boys when their testicles have not dropped down into the scrotum normally. This can be caused by a pituitary gland disorder. HCG may also be used for other purposes not listed. Important information about HCGHCG is given as an injection under the skin or into a muscle. If you use HCG at home, your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will give you specific instructions on how and where to inject this medicine. Do not self-inject HCG if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of a blood clot, pain, warmth, redness, numbness, or tingling in your arm or leg; confusion, extreme dizziness, or severe headache. Some women using this medicine have developed a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), especially after the first treatment cycle. OHSS can be a life-threatening condition. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of OHSS: severe pelvic pain, swelling of the hands or legs, stomach pain and swelling, shortness of breath, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting and urinating less than normal. HCG can cause early puberty in young boys. Call your doctor if a boy using this medicine shows early signs of puberty, such as a deepened voice, pubic hair growth, and increased acne or sweating. Using HCG can increase your chances of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc). A multiple pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy for the mother and for the babies. Follow your doctor’s instructions about any special care you may need during your pregnancy. Although HCG can help you become pregnant, this medication is in the FDA pregnancy category X. This means that using the medication once you are pregnant can cause birth defects in the baby. Do not use HCG if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment. Before using HCG You should not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to HCG, or if you have:* early puberty (also called precocious puberty); or* a hormone-related cancer (such as prostate cancer). Before receiving HCG tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs or if you have:* a thyroid or adrenal gland disorder;* an ovarian cyst;* premature puberty;* cancer or a tumor of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, hypothalamus, or pituitary gland;* undiagnosed uterine bleeding;* heart disease;* kidney disease;* epilepsy;* migraines; or* asthma. If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use HCG. Although HCG can help you become pregnant, this medication is in the FDA pregnancy category X. This means that using the medication once you are pregnant can cause birth defects in the baby. Do not use HCG if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether HCG passes into breast milk. Do not use HCG without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. HCG side effectsStop using HCG and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of a blood clot: pain, warmth, redness, numbness, or tingling in your arm or leg; confusion, extreme dizziness, or severe headache. Some women using this medicine have developed a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), especially after the first treatment cycle. OHSS can be a life-threatening condition. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms of OHSS:* severe pelvic pain* swelling of the hands or legs;* stomach pain and swelling;* shortness of breath* weight gain;* diarrhea;* nausea or vomiting; or* urinating less than normal. HCG can cause early puberty in young boys. Call your doctor if a boy using this medicine shows early signs of puberty, such as a deepened voice, pubic hair growth, and increased acne or sweating. Less serious side effects may include:* headache;* feeling restless or irritable;* mild swelling or water weight gain;* depression;* breast tenderness or swelling; or* pain, swelling, or irritation where the injection is given. This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. 

Below is an article I found on the internet:

HCG diet was largely discredited long ago Doctors comparing weight-loss results with HCG injections versus a placebo failed to produce evidence that the hormone was anything special. By Elena Conis November 2, 2009

A long-ago discredited fad diet has been getting increased attention lately, thanks to Web chatter and the claims of a bestselling author. The so-called HCG diet’s recent popularity is a bit surprising — and not just because research suggests it doesn’t work.Other currently popular diets call for cutting back on fat and sugar, consuming whole grains and lean meats, and even indulging in red wine. The HCG diet, in contrast, calls for eating just 500 calories a day while taking daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy and excreted in pregnant women’s urine. According to the hype, HCG suppresses the appetite and prevents dieters from feeling weak or woozy on the low-calorie diet. But as with any fad diet, consumers should be wary of such claims, says Kelly Brownell, professor of psychology, epidemiology and public health at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.The idea that daily hormone injections might help people lose weight first occurred to British physician A.T.W. Simeons in the 1930s. At the time, doctors had reported success treating children with Frohlich’s syndrome (a condition marked by obesity and slow development of the reproductive organs) by giving them injections of gonadotropin derived from pregnant women’s urine.Simeons decided to experiment with giving the gonadotropin (it would later come to be called HCG) to people who were obese but did not have Frohlich’s syndrome. When he did so, his patients’ appetites diminished and the circumference of their hips and waists decreased — even though they did not lose weight.Simeons interpreted those findings to mean that the hormone moved fat away from the places where it was traditionally deposited and rendered it available for metabolism. He further supposed that if he injected overweight people with the hormone while limiting them to no more than 500 calories a day, they would metabolize that newly available fat and lose weight in the process.Over the next 20 years, Simeons placed 500 of his patients on a strict weight-loss regimen: a daily shot of HCG and two daily meals consisting of 100 grams of lean meat, some leafy vegetables, fruit and a piece of crispbread, for a total of no more than 500 calories a day.In 1954, he reported in the medical journal the Lancet that patients who followed the regimen for 40 days lost 20 to 30 pounds, and that 70% of them maintained their weight loss after going off the diet. He credited the hormone with making fat available for metabolism and enabling his patients to remain on the low-calorie diet without feeling weak, dizzy or excessively hungry.Over the next few years, doctors who put their own patients on Simeons’ regimen reported similar successes. But when doctors and researchers began to rigorously compare the diet’s key ingredient — HCG injections — to a placebo, or dummy injection, they failed to produce evidence that the hormone was anything special.In 1959, researchers in Israel reported that they had placed 45 patients on Simeons’ diet, giving half the patients HCG injections and the other half saline injections. The two groups both lost weight at the same rate — and all 45 participants complained of being constipated, hungry or weak.In the early 1960s, researchers at UC San Francisco and at a U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Carson, Colo., came up with the same results. All three studies were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.In the decades that followed, researchers continued to study the diet and to show that the hormone added little to the low-calorie regimen. In 1995, Dutch researchers reviewed the results of the 24 studies that had been conducted on the HCG diet.Just 12 of them were well-designed, the scientists found; of those, 11 reported that HCG was ineffective in treating obesity. The Dutch team published its results in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.Despite these decades of negative study findings, the HCG diet was given new life by bestselling author Kevin Trudeau’s 2007 book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.” Giving credit to Simeons, Trudeau recommended a multi-phase approach to weight loss, including a phase of daily HCG injections.Trudeau has previously been targeted by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly promoting unproven cancer cures, pain relievers and other products, and in 2004 was banned by the commission from appearing in infomercials selling products or services to the public. .He said in a recent Chicago Tribune story that he wrote his latest book simply as a public service.Regardless, the HCG diet continues to draw followers, with more and more online companies promising to supply the injections. The shots can come at a significant cost: Online prices range from $30 to more than $600 for a month’s supply. And they have side effects. Simeons noted that his female patients often became pregnant while on the shots, and today, in fact, HCG is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a fertility treatment.Brownell says that any trendy diet should give consumers pause.”Research has not found fad diets to be safe, effective and permanent,” he says. “Consumers should be highly skeptical as the default.”So do hear a bit of passion in my writing? This stuff gets my blood boiling. For the last 11 years I have had to defend what I do for a living on a daily basis. Finally in the last several years there is more and more medical and scientific studies that show how damaging obesity is to the body. It is truly a medical disease that has to be treated. But medical weight loss has gotten such a bad name/reputation over the years for many different reasons and has been considered by most of the medical society to be on the left fringe of medicine. I have to hold myself to a much higher standard on how I treat my patients. Finally Bariatrics is just beginning to be accepted and in the local area we have developed a great reputation within the medical community and we are getting more and more referrals from local primary care physicians. Then we start hearing of the current HCG craze with some local doctors (again I use that term loosely) doing this absolutely crazy, medically unsafe diet plan. Those practitioners are trying to take away the eleven years of hard work within the local medical community that we have been developing to make Bariatrics a mainstream part of medical treatment for their patients. I just want to scream from the top of Mt. Shasta that we are not the ones doing this absolutely crazy diet and we NEVER will.References:l. Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954.2. Asher WL, Harper HW. Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss” hunger and feeling of well-being. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26:211218, 1973. Bosch B and others. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind. placebo-controlled trial. South African Medical Journal 7 7 :1 85-189, 1990.4. Carne S. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:1282-1284,1961.5. Craig LS and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in the treatment of obese women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12:230234,1963.6. Frank BW. The use of chorionic gonadotrophin hormone in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14:133-136,1964.7. Greenway FL, Bray GA. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. West Journal of Medicine 127:461463,1977.8. Shetly KR, Kalkhoff RK. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) treatment of obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine 137 :I 5 I -I 5 5, I97 7.9. Lebon P. Treatment of overweight patients with chorionic gonadotrophin: follow-up study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 14 116125,1966.10. Lijesen GK and others. The effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatmentof obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analvsis. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 49 :237-243, I995.11. Miller R, Schneiderrnan LJ. A clinical study of the use of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction. Journal of Family Practice 4:445448, 1977.12. Stein MR and others. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction: a double-blind study.12. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29:940-948, 1976. Stein MR and others. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29:940–948, 1976.13. Young RL and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study. JAMA 236:2495–2497, 1976.14. Mirkin G. Getting Thin. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1983.15. In the matter of Simeon Management Corporation et al. Order, opinion etc., in regard to alleged violation of Secs. 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Docket 8996. Complaint, Oct 15, 1974. Final Order April 29, 1976.16. Trudeau K. The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About. Alliance Publishing, 2007.17. FTC: Marketer Kevin Trudeau violated prior court order. FTC news release, Sept 14, 2007.