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Xenical - Overview and Precautions
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Xenical is the trade name given to orlistat, a prescription drug that is used for the treatment of obesity. Unlike other drugs that are prescribed for the treatment of obesity, this one is not a diet suppressant, but is a fat blocker. It restricts the body from absorbing a large portion of the fats that are a part of the human diet, and thus it reduces the caloric intake of the body.

This anti-obesity drug works best if complemented by a healthy fat free or a fat reduced diet and regular exercise.

Defining Xenical

Once can define this medication by explaining its working on the body of a person. Xenical uses its fat blocking properties to reduce the weight of a person. The working of this medicine is not systemic and it works in the gastrointestinal tract of a person. When a body takes in fat, it does so in the form of triglycerides that need to broken down into their most basic form, by intestinal enzymes. The working of these enzymes, namely gastric and pancreatic lipases is inhibited by Xenical. The blocking of lipase activity takes place by the formation of a covalent bond between the enzymes and orlistat.

Thus, the process of hydrolysis of the dietary fat does not take place; hence almost 30% of the dietary fat is not absorbed by the body, and makes its way through the gastrointestinal tract, as is. This fat is eliminated by the body, through the process of excretion.

Origins and Efficacy

Xenical, specifically orlistat, is the saturated derivative form of lipstatin, isolated from Streptomyces toxytricini, a bacterium. Lipstatin is a powerful and highly effective natural pancreatic lipases inhibitor. However, it was found to be complex and unstable as a formulation, hence orlistat was developed as an anti-obesity drug owing to its inherent stable and simple nature.

Various clinical trials have confirmed the efficacy of orlistat with respect to weight loss. However, it's suggested that this drug be taken in conjunction with a lifestyle change in the form of diet and exercise.

Treatment Effects

A number of medical experts sometimes refer to the side effects of Xenical as treatment effects. This is because of its infamous gastrointestinal side effects. These are in the form of loose or oily stools and a condition known as fecal incontinence. They have earned the moniker ‘treatment effects' for their tendency to reduce over time. On the whole Xenical is a medication that is geared for safety when it comes to long term-use.


If a person is regularly using Xenical, he/she should be aware that orlistat inhibits the absorption of various fat soluble nutrients like vitamins. Therefore, it's advisable that a patient using Xenical also takes a multivitamin tablet as a daily supplement. On the other hand, an obese person or somebody who wants to control weight will have a low diet. Therefore, the intake of vitamins like, beta-carotene, A, D, E and K is liable to go down. This makes it even more necessary for such people to take a multivitamin supplement once a day.

There is a tendency to misuse weight loss medication. Typically, people with eating disorders tend to use weight loss drugs inappropriately, especially those patients who suffer from conditions like bulimia or anorexia nervosa. It's also advisable that pregnant or nursing mothers do not use Xenical.

If you want to take Xenical with other medications, it's important to apprise your doctor of all the medications, both over-the-counter and prescription medications, which you are currently taking. Though it does not show contraindication with other medications, there might be a need not to take Xenical immediately after you have taken a specific medication.

By Ajay Dumasiya BCA, SEO (Last 2.6 years)
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


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