HCG Diet: What You Need to Know

HCG as a Dietary Aid: What Say the FDA?

The FDA has provided its stamp of approval on the use of hCG -- as a fertility drug. In your attempts to lose weight by tricking your body with the presence of a pregnancy-related hormone, your body may turn the tables and help you get pregnant. Within five years of its discovery, hCG was already being packaged and marketed to the public as a fertility drug. (If you're a woman who doesn't want to get pregnant, you should be extra-careful if you're taking hCG.)

Aside from fertility, the FDA doesn't approve hCG use for any other reason, including weight loss. Moreover, the FDA has said that billing hCG drops, sprays and pills as homeopathic weight loss products is fraudulent and illegal [source: Hellmich]. However, lack of approval doesn't prevent hCG's use as a dietary aid. As long as you have a doctor willing to write a prescription, you can obtain hCG. With a surge in public interest in the hCG diet (owing almost entirely to a large marketing push of this dusted-off 60-year-old diet craze), there's no shortage of weight-loss clinics staffed by doctors who write such prescriptions all day long. There have been reports of people obtaining hCG (or something being passed off as hCG) on the Internet, despite the need for a prescription to obtain the drug. Such practice would bring up issues of safety and effectiveness of the doses being provided through the black market.

The hCG diet can be somewhat pricey: A consultation visit and 23- or 40-day supply of hormones and syringes could run you around $500 to more than $1,000 [sources: Hartocollis; Haupt]. Many people do a cycle of the hCG diet, eat normally for six weeks, and then follow up with one or more cycles of hCG. The hCG drops, pills and sprays range anywhere from $40 to $249 per bottle [sources: GNC MyHCGPlus].

Next, why did the hCG diet fall off the radar until recently?