Betahistine: Weight Loss Super-Pill?

By Jim F

New trials are underway for a drug called Betahistine. A recent pilot study of 20 volunteers showed a weight loss of almost 4lbs per week for three months. That’s as much as a 16 pound (~7kg) loss in a month.The drug has apparently been around for some years – and is used as a treatment for vertigo.

The drug works on a part of brain known as a histamine receptor, sending signals to the stomach, telling it to take in less food. It also seems to create a dislike of fatty foods. (Telegraph)

The new research will include double-blinded, placebo-controlled dose-ranging study in about 280 subjects over a period of three months (across the U.S) – via Betahistine.

81 Comments

  1. harjeetsix

    Hi
    My dad is nearly 60 years old and he is a high blood pressure patient. He feels dizzy here and there. Just wondering if Betahistine is ok for him to take with High blood pressure complications. If yes what dose please.

    Reply
  2. Martin Shelley

    I thought I would ad this post to the general site as people may find it uselful. I have been on betahistimine for 11 years (3 16 milligram tablets a day after meals) for menierres and I wawsn’t even aware that it caused weight loss. I am male, 36 years old and weigh 87 kilogrames (I lift weights so have a high muscle density). I don’t overeat and my waist is 36 inches. 11 years ago I weighed around 78 kilos, didn’t lift weights but had a very active job. I don’t know what conclusions you can draw from this but thought it might be of help to know my experience with the medicine.

    Reply
  3. Claire

    Agreed Bryan!
    And FYI – the drug industry will always find ways to ‘isolate’ the active compound or modify the core drug, coz otherwise they won’t be able to sell it at a ridiculous markup!
    Betahistine is already off its patent period – it’s available in generic form for pennies. Guess what, if they don’t ‘isolate’ the active compound, or ‘discover’ a new use and call it something else, everyone will just go for the cheap generic option.

    Reply
  4. Bryan

    Clinical trial on new drug flops

    Another company has been in the news, however, pursuing its own potential blockbuster: OBE101. FDA News just reported an announcement by Bio-Light Life Sciences Investments Ltd., the parent company of Obecure, Ltd., which is a private company in Israel that holds the worldwide exclusive to “clinically develop and commercially exploit the technology as developed by [Chief Scientific Officer] Dr. Nir Barak.”

    The initial results of its phase II clinical trial testing OBE101 for the treatment of obesity were released last month and had found OBE101 (Histalean™) to be ineffective.

    The patients on OBE101 lost no more weight than a control group. The study authors had concluded:

    There were no statistically significant differences among any of the treatment arms versus placebo.

    So, they did some crunching of their data (“a post hoc segmentation analysis”) and just came back to add that “a segment of the subpopulation of women ages 50 and under showed that a certain dosage caused substantial weight loss compared with the control group.” How’s that for qualifiers? There’s more.

    The Business Wire headlined this weekend with the news: “Obecure Phase II Trial Shows Positive Results for Histalean in Obese Women Under 50.”

    The company press release gave these specifics: When their analysis was limited to nonhispanic women at the end of week 12, they found that “the 25 women on the 48 mg dose had lost an average of 2.61 kg of their weight, versus 23 women on placebo, who lost only 0.4 kg of their weight. This result was statistically significant with a p-value of 0.003. The effect of ethnicity on drug responsiveness in the current analysis is still inconclusive, since the number of hispanic women in each study group was very small [4 and 5 women].” The study results have not also published, so the specifics of the weight loss data through to the end of the trial and the diet program the participants followed has not been peer-reviewed.

    Dr. Yaffa Beck, Obecure’s CEO, said in the company’s press release: “We are excited by the robustness of the response to the 48 mg daily dose…in this subgroup of women under 50. Combined with the drug’s remarkable safety profile, this positions Histalean as a contender in the greatly unmet market for anti-obesity drugs.” With that, the company “intends to pursue additional clinical trials of the drug.”

    The only article I found that actually takes a scientific look at the studies done in regards to betahistine and weight loss.

    Just another case of uneducated journalist reading scientific articles they don’t understand ,and then writing an article called “miracle weight loss drug discovered”

    Just to clear up, histalean is betahistine, it is the name given to it by the people who wanted to exploit it as a obesity cure. I don’t want any of you trolls calling me stupid saying “whats histalean I was talking about betahistine”.

    Reply
  5. Self Control

    Hi its self control, you should try getting some. If you keep looking to the next weight loss drug to fix your problem your going to be fat your whole life. The only miracle cure is to remove the sausage from you mouth and go do something.

    Reply
  6. Bryan

    Betahistine is not a anti-histamine it is a strong H3 histamine receptor antagonist and a weak H1 antagonist. It doesn’t decrease histamine I believe it actually increase it. H3 receptor antagonist have been studied to treat fatigue in diseases like narcolepsy so it shouldn’t cause drowsiness.

    Reply
  7. Bryan

    Every overweight person I have ever met has blamed it on genetics. After identifying the genetic components of obesity the scientific community did a study were they took a large group of obese people, and asked them if they believed genetics was the cause for their obesity, then they tested them for the genetics. Almost 100% of these people said that they were obese due to genetics, but the test showed that less then 1/2% had the genetic components.
    Overweight people have overweight kids because they teach them unhealthy lifestyles. The genetics has little to do with it and is used a an excuse for being overweight.

    Reply
    • Ella

      Rather judgemental. I was an overweight kid, adopted aged 5 weeks. My parents never had a weight problem they are on the thin side. They ate average portions and controlled my portions. So I can conclude that your theory is debunked.

      Reply
  8. Sudeep

    Hey. I’m in intern from India and betahistine recently caught my attention.
    Well, it seems to suppress appetite, esp fatty foods. Or so studies claim. So ppl who dont eat fatty foods or dont eat much at all are unlikely by that logic to experience any weight loss, i think.
    Besides, the postulated dose is 48mg/day. 4mg x 4 = 16mg which is just 1/3rd the dose. If the studies are true, it wont have any effect.
    Thirdly, there are doubts on whether this drug has any pharmacological effect at all or is it just an inert-ish substance with high placebo effect. Cuz the exact mechanism of action of this drug has eluded everybody.
    Finally, it has been shown to increase headaches, asthma and stomach upsets. So such patients shouldn’t take this drug.
    Eventually i was thinking of taking a two-week trial of this drug myself. But since this is just an appetite suppressant i should probably do it when i’m in a hungry phase. If it does indeed reduce my cravings for samosa and McD, I’ll believe in it, lol.

    Reply
  9. just me

    i take 4 mg 4 times a day for meniere’s and have not noticed any weight loss at all,mind you i dont eat junk food or fatty stuff much anyway
    i suspect if it does work for eight loss it’s only good for people who over eat or eat the wrong food

    Reply
  10. Zoe

    I’ve currently been prescribed betahistine for dizzyness, but im also a blood donor, and the local blood run is around this week. Would i be unable to donate whilst taking these tablets?

    Reply
  11. natalie

    Hi Dr J what would you advise to treat virtigo/dizziness and the feeling of fainting?, which i have had now for several months i was prescribed Betahistine. Are there any herbal remedies?

    Many thanks, Natalie, UK

    Reply
  12. Vicky

    I recently have been diagnosed with Menieres,
    To start with it was very distressing.I have to agree with you Tom,I feel much more alert.
    The benefits from Serc has been good for me.I dont feel as tired and I am definetly alot fuller in the evenings.
    Does anyone know if jogging can be harmful with menieres.

    Reply
  13. adrian bell

    im on betahistine for labrynthitis…ive put 4 pound on in weight despite more exercise and eating a balanced diet of 2000 cals per day…

    Reply
  14. John

    Yes, treat the actual problem first. Patients should get new parents so they won’t have any genetic predispositions to weight gain.

    Reply
  15. debby

    U have betahistine for my mèniére and i dont lose any weight at all i have 16 mg and dont lose any weight i dont know ho is telling those tinghs that you lose weight whit it it is not true believe me i gain 4 kilo and i use it for a longer time i must eat those pills three times per day for my illnis so i dont cant say that you lose weight with it

    Reply
  16. Tom

    just to add my tuppence worth. I had my first ever vertigo attack on May 9th 08 and have been on Serc now for 3 months. They suspect i have Menieres as my father had it also and 1 in 10 pass it on to their kids. I take 48mgs per day and while i think it has a small effect on my vertigo there is no doubt that while on this drug and without any change in my daily life i have lost a stone and a half since i started taking them. That is 25llbs to you across the pond. I have noticed that it does seem to suppress my appetite particularly my after 9pm munchies. It does not cause drowsiness and infact if anything you may feel a bit more alert!. I certainly have. It is a strange one but i can only tell you what has happened to me. I am not suffering the real bad bouts of menieres where you can go a few days without eating due to the nausea like some here have and indeed my dad suffered from. I have eaten normally throughout the last 3 months. Hope this is helpful to those seeking answers..

    Reply
    • Geraldean

      Like Tom, I feel that Betahistine actually makes me feel a bit of a “rush” & makes me feel a little mor energetic. That is why I started to look into the effects of the drug. I too feel as if it surpresses my appitite, & only just discovered the claim that it may assist weight loss. I have only been taking the drug for 10 days for Vertigo my second attack in 8 weeks which is refusing to go away this time. I think Betahistine is helping. I will stick with them for the next 2 weeks as others say they can take time to be more effective.

      Reply
  17. Brian

    I ordered from inhousepharmacy as well. 252 16mg pills for $60.00 have been taking 32mgs a day for a week after 1week moved to 48mgs… have not seen any results..of course my first thought is since I ordered them from overseas..maybe theyre not even real.

    Reply
  18. time

    we are in a time that has 10000 food for person in the west. also our food has sugar and oil and carbo.only 60 years ago people had bearly bread to eat . go to asian countries and see how obesity is low because of 3 meals rise diet and water drink. we have commercals for food..bigmack with cheese and bacon

    so we have a new disease – and pills is how we face a new disease. it will work for some people. good luck!

    Reply
  19. Shine

    How did you come across this company? Have you or anyone here ordered from them? http://www.inhousepharmacy.com/general/betahistine.html

    Reply
  20. Thor

    I’m a 50 year old anglo male and have been taking 48 mg a day for vertigo for 18 months. I’ve also been on a low salt diet for the 18 months. I’m a serious runner and cyclist for the past 30 years, and ride about 150 miles per week year round. Since I began the SERC I’ve gone from 185 pounds to 165 pounds, most likely from the low salt diet, which eliminates virtually all high calorie or fatty foods, because of the salt content. Perhaps the SERC helped the weight loss, perhaps it was from the vertigo induced nauesa which prevents me from eating anything for a day or so, once or twice a month. The vertigo induced nauesa is terrible, and seems to be triggered by salty foods, so it has acted like aversion training…hence I don’t want to meet high salt/calorie foods.

    Reply
  21. Daphene

    $60 for 4032 mg of betahistine here (252 tabs)…they are 16 mg tabs, so I think this is a little better deal.

    http://www.inhousepharmacy.com/general/betahistine.html

    Reply
  22. Xavier

    Hello. I just received my 3 month supply of betahistine today (16mg tid). Where is everyone ordering from? I’ve ordered from a company in India that is rather cheap–$120 for 650 tablets of 8mg.

    Reply
  23. Jim

    AS the admin of this blog I can vouch for Dr. J’s accreditation as a licensed doctor – I have seen the certificate!

    Reply
  24. Ritz

    You may want to consider taking our own advise and make our own “lifestyle changes”
    For those people that do suffer from weight control for whatever the reasons might be, just make the choice that it is right for you and research all your options and balance the pros and cons. As for myself , I am a 47 female, that used to be a size 8 until age 34 that I notice that it was not easy to lose weight. I have been on various diets weight watchsers, jenny criag, cookie diet, I exerises by walking at least 5 x a week for one hr or longer. I eat healthy , although as many I cheat at times and head to cold stone for ice cream.
    About 13 yrs ago I did well with the phen-phen diet pills and lost 30lbs. However my metoblism is not as fast as it used to be. I have been going to a Accupunture/Holistic facilty for 3- 4 weeks b12 inj 2x a week,herbal medication for weight loss and DVD’S that helps your subconsciousness mind. I lost approx 7lbs.
    Now lets try these “slimming pill”. If it works I will let all of you know. I am hoping to lose 60 lbs in 3months. ( 20lbs a month If Betahistine works as advertises I will let all of you know. bye DR RITZ!

    Reply
  25. Dr. J

    Please let me know how well it works for you so I can learn and become a better doctor.

    Reply
  26. Ritz

    Great response , I agree with you totally!
    Could not say it better!

    Reply
  27. Ritz

    Hey not sure who this DR J is but if he is a real Physcian let him show his licence to pratice. Anyone can claim he/she is a physcian …..I say this physcian must not see patients since he has so much time to be posting in the internet. For all of you that want to know about this slimming pill here is what I found to be the truth…..
    Vertigo pill is new obesity wonderdrug
    by MARTYN HALLE –

    A new pill for obesity helps overweight people shed more than 4lb a week. The drug, Betahistine, is currently used to treat the dizziness disorder vertigo.
    But an obesity expert in Israel stumbled on the alternative use while looking for a new treatment for his overweight patients.
    Now drug company Eli Lilly has become involved and is backing trials being carried out in Canada and America. In the first human trial in Tel Aviv, volunteers shed excess weight at a rate of almost 4lb a week for three months.
    Because Betahistine is an existing drug, it is expected to be fast-tracked by British and American drug safety regulators and should become available worldwide for treating obesity in 2009.
    About 40 per cent of adults in the UK are overweight, and 20 per cent are obese. This figure is rising, particularly among young adults.
    “This drug is significantly more effective at helping people to lose weight then anything else on the market at present,” says Dr Ami Eyal, medical director of Obecure, the company developing the pill.
    “The great thing is that this drug has been around since the Sixties and there are no significant side-effects from taking it. It has already been used by 130 million people for vertigo – it is licensed in the UK for this – so we know it is safe.
    “Some of the existing drugs for obesity have been linked with depression and suicidal tendencies, but there have never been any such reports with this drug.
    “Our patients were absolutely amazed at how quickly they lost weight and they were quite disappointed when we had to stop the trial.
    “Existing anti-obesity pills have proved to be slow in reducing weight in seriously obese people and they generally need to have surgery. But operations for the morbidly obese are risky.”

    Betahistine works on a part of brain known as the histamine receptor. Histamines are a group of chemicals that are part of the body’s immune system, and protect it against disease.

    Over-production of histamine causes allergic disorders such as peanut allergy, hay fever and sensitivity to wasp and bee stings. Histamine also helps to suppress appetite, although it is not clear why.

    Betahistine is a manufactured copy of histamine.

    “Histamine is found in the gut as well as the brain, but its connection with appetite control has not yet been established,” says Dr Nir Barak, of the Rabin Medical Centre in Tel Aviv, who discovered the new use of the drug.

    “We found that the patients in our trial developed a dislike for fatty foods,” says Dr Eyal. The pill has also been found to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

    Betahistine could be used as a real alternative to highly expensive, and potentially dangerous, obesity surgery which is rationed in some parts of the NHS. The new drug should cost the NHS just a few pence per tablet.

    “Although Betahistine does not have a licence to treat obesity, because its safety as a drug has been proven doctors in Britain can already use it to treat patients for weight loss,” says Dr Eyal.
    Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, says: “It’s smashing news that we may soon have a new drug to treat obesity. Surgery is very expensive and if there another option .
    Heck.why not try it!

    Reply
  28. Lauren DeLaCruz

    I have vertigo and just have started Betahistine 8 mg bid as of yesterday. So far, it makes me very sleepy and I am hungry constantly. It does seem to help the vertigo. If I happen to loose any weight I will let you know but it is seeming unlikely with the low energy caused by drowsiness and being hungry all the time.

    Reply
  29. itsme

    To the so called Dr. who thinks that all someone needs to do is make a lifestyle change, it’s no wonder that you went into surgery since that’s akin to bloodletting, and that’s about your level of sophistication concerning medicine. Just because you weren’t trained about something doesn’t mean that you should go around displaying your ignorance. Shame on you, you so poorly represent the medical profession. That’s also probably why surgeons have a reputation for totally lacking in compassion.

    There are many factors that determine weight, lifestyle is only one. Have you ever been really hungry. Really, truly straving hungry. Now imagine being that way all the time. Tell me what lifestyle changes you will use to overcome that.

    Reply
  30. Dr. Moreira

    I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine in South Miami Fl. I am a believeer in integrative medicine – that is – using the best of both worlds to potentiate the healing process and decrease pain and suffering. In addition to chinese herbal formulas, I have integrated vitamin b12 with methione, inositol, and choline to my weight loss program. I have one healthy patient that is currently taking the betahistamine and doing very well on it (she has lost 7 lbs). Im monitoring her closely for any ill side-effects. I have started her on 8mg bid. Will continue to post on progress.

    Dr. G. Moreira

    Reply
  31. marion

    About two years ago I was prescribed betahistine for tinnitus, at the time i was going to slimming club, I lost three stone and was eating normally however when I stopped taking the tablets I put it all back on again without changing my diet at all, in my opinion they do aid slimming.

    Reply
  32. Beth

    I am taking betahistine. I will let you know if it works for weight loss. I read about the study on weight with this drug.I ordered it off the internet. Beth

    Reply
  33. KM

    Dosage: The usual adult daily dosage range is 24 to 48 mg administered orally in divided doses. 8 mg tablets: 1 to 2 tablets 3 times daily; 16 mg tablets: 1/2 to 1 tablet 3 times daily. As betahistine can cause gastrointestinal upset in some patients, it is recommended that doses be taken with a meal.

    Reply
  34. Valerie

    1 stone = 14 pounds, if I’m not mistaken.
    And I will be shocked if I lose even 1 stone on betahistine! Seriously, I can’t tell any difference whatsoever, but I only take 16 -24 mg a day to help control dizzy spells. Some people are taking more than that.

    Reply
  35. Beth

    How Much is 2 stones?

    Reply
  36. Valerie

    I take Betahistine for Meniere’s disease and “hydrops”. I have severe tinnitus and get episodic dizzy spells. Usually the only solution for this are vestibular therapy which did NOT work on me, adjusting hormone therapy, or taking betahistine and/or a diuretic. There are other avenues of therapy as well. Hormone adjustments and betahistine have been more successful for dizzy spells. I haven’t noticed any change in weight or appetite, but that could change as I only started it.

    I sort of resent the comments about all you need to do is make lifestyle changes. I do not smoke, drink, or take drugs; I eat healthy, no MSG or additives and watch my Sodium intake. Some people get stricken with diseases or sundry afflictions by no fault of their own. Part of the problem is medicine has not caught up with these problems and therefore all therapies of any kind are basically “inadequate” to varying degrees.

    Reply
  37. jeff alan

    Im a 52 year old male taking 16 mg SERC x 3 daily for Menieres for the past 9 months. I cycle or run 10 hours a week 50 weeks a year, for the past 30 years. I often ride 60 to 70 mile bike rides. I’m 6′ and my weight has dropped from 185 to 165 in the first 6 months and is now stable at 165. I’m also taking Diazide and on a low salt diet, both for the Menieres. I suspect that elmination of high salt foods (virtually everything at resturants or processed) has reduced my total caloric intake, but perhaps the SERC is also a factor in reducing my food intake. I’ve had perhaps 20 Vertigo attacks in the past year, which means throwing up for 8 to 12 hours, and no food intake for 1 or 2 days. I would rather have the 20 extra pounds and no Vertigo.

    Reply
  38. emma

    hellooooo ppl ,just reading through ure posts think i am an expert on dizzyness/betahistine.
    ive been constantly dizzy now for 3 months and have been taking 16mg 3x a day with food as it says in instructions and if any thing ive gained weight…at first i lost half a stone but like somebody said earlier i think its down to stress and anxiety of not knowing what the matter is. still dont know whats wrong,convinced i have a brain tumour.

    Reply
    • Brenda

      I have been taking Betahistine 16mg for 6 months and have lost 30 lbs. I take this for severe vertigo and find it works well to help the dizziness but does make my stomach upset and I feel quite full faster. I was not a very large person to start with and am now a size 5.

      Reply