Betahistine hydrochloride is prescribed predominately by physicians in the United Kingdom to treat Ménière's disease, a condition affecting the inner ear. It has been discovered that patients taking this medication for treatment of severe vertigo have experienced an astounding but unexpected weight loss. Also known by the brand name Serc, it should not be confused with a diet aid and is only prescribed to patients with symptoms related to Ménière's disease.
Serc is used to treat patients who suffer from fluctuating hearing loss, rotational vertigo, tinnitus and aural fullness, as described by the Ménière's Disease Information Center (menieresinfo.com). A study testing the effectiveness of Serc in patients that had these hearing and dizziness issues concluded that those taking betahistine hydrochloride lost an average of four pounds per week. According to Timothy C. Hain, M.D., centrally acting antihistamines seem to cause weight gain, and by the same token histamine agonists may cause weight loss.
Serc is manufactured by Solvay Pharmaceuticals. According to Solvay, Serc has treated more than 130 million patients and is available in more than 90 countries worldwide. Interest in this medication is growing, and various pharmaceutical companies are looking into manufacturing this product for weight loss if it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This medication is currently only available by prescription, so it is necessary to first see a doctor for a diagnosis.
According to Associated Newspapers in the United Kingdom, betahistine is the new obesity wonder drug, and patients in clinical studies were reportedly amazed at their rapid weight loss and were disappointed when the testing ended. Studies in Canada and the U.S. are still ongoing, according to the National Institutes of Health, to determine if betahistine hydrochloride can be shown to be linked to weight loss.
Betahistine hydrochloride is administered in doses of 8mg, 16mg and 24mg, with the typical dose being 16mg and taken three to four times per day. National Institutes of Health studies have determined that greater effects of weight loss are obtained when a higher dosage, such as high as 48mg, is taken and that benefits are evident within a few days up to two weeks, instead of several months as previously recorded.
Side effects are common with any medication, and precaution is always necessary. Although side effects are minimal with betahistine hydrochloride, some patients have experienced stomach upset, increased problems with asthma, chest tightness and headaches.