There is no drug which will reduce the body-weight except by its effects on metabolism, usually acting by impairing the functions of the digestive organs. The expensive remedies advertised for the cure of obesity are useless and generally harmless, unless they upset the digestion. An immediate reduction in weight is not guaranteed, and it is often stated that no marked loss will occur for two to four weeks. In fact the treatment must be prolonged in order to benefit the proprietor. Fortunately thyroid extract is not used, its dangers are too great for even the most reckless advertiser. For some reason or other the bladder-wrack or common seaweed (fucus-vesiculosus) has a great reputation and enters into the composition of several specifics. It may be given in doses of 3 to 6 drachms daily of the liquid extract, or grs. x-xxx of the extract. Cases have been reported in which it has proved beneficial and harmless. Citric acid is frequently used, perhaps because of the popular idea that lemons, vinegar and acid substances generally, prevent obesity. Sulphur and iodide of potassium are often used. The composition of many of these specifics and their value have been estimated with the following results (British Medical Journal, 1907):
1. Absorbit Reducing Paste and Zobeide are used by inunction and contain five per cent of ox-bile : price 3s. 6d. per 2 oz. jar; value 3d. Amiral soap is a similar substance.
2. Allan's Anti-fat contains potassium iodide, grs. 0.3, salicylic acid, gr. 1, and 70 minims of bladder-wrack in each fluid ounce : price 65. 6d. for a bottle of 6 1/2 oz.; value 3d.
3. Antipon consists of citric acid, grs. 40 to the oz.; dose 1/2 oz. three times a day : price 2s. 6d. a bottle of 6 1/2 oz.; value 1 1/2 d.
4. Mrs. Frost's Anti-Obesity Remedy is an extract of bladder-wrack (Hutchison).
5. Grey's Specific contains 47 per cent of sulphur (Hutchison).
6. Hargreave's Reducing Wafers consist chiefly of fucus : price Is. l 1/2d. for 21; one to be taken three times a day.
7. Hughes and Hughes's XL Reducing Lotion is for outward application and contains iodide, bromide and chloride of potassium; price 4s. 6d. for 2 1/4 oz.; value 3/4d.
8. Hughes and Hughes's Reducing XL Pills contain potassium iodide, iron and fucus, two to be taken twice a day; price 2s. 9d. for 28; value l 1/4d.
9. J. Z. Obesity Tablets contain 24 per cent of sulphur; price 2s. for 25; value 1/2d.
10. Russell's Anti-Corpulent Preparation consists of citric acid, grs. 37 to the ounce, dose 1/2 oz. three times daily : price 6s. for a 12 1/2 oz. bottle; value 2d. The pink tablets are made of saccharin.
11. Trilene Tablets contain bladder-wrack 3 parts, starch 7, and sugar 87 in 100, dose three times daily : price 2s. 6d. for 66, value 1/40d.
Of course it is impossible to be absolutely accurate in the analyses of preparations which may contain vegetable substances, but the above results are sufficiently reliable.