Appesat is a seaweed-based appetite supressant which remains a popular, second tier weight loss aid in the UK. Appesat contains Bioginate Complex, a patented fibre complex extracted from the seaweed Laminara digitara, harvested off the French Atlantic coast. The complex is supposed to be resistant to acid and bile in the intestines and remains active for long periods. You are meant to take the product a half hour before each meal, and then the seaweed expands some three times in volume, stretching the stomach wall and stimulating hunger sensors in the stomach wall. This is supposed to send messages to the brain you are full and act as an appetite supressant. The effect has been described in one January 2009 Daily Mail article as mimicking a gastric balloon (an inflatable implant surgically inserted into the stomach and then filled with saline solution).
The manufacturers claim Appestat is "clinically proven to improve weight loss 67% over dieting alone"-- digging a bit deeper we saw this seems to derive from a single study in Germany in 2002, testing 139 patients over a period of 12 weeks. Before each meal, the study participants had three Appesat pills, and all reduced their eating to a low fat 1200 calorie diet. Those who had Appesat lost an average of 9.4 kilos, and those on the diet alone lost 5.6 kilos, so Appesat was deemed responsible for the additional 3.8 kilos over the 12 weeks. A second German study in 2002 on 46 subjects confirmed 20.3% felt satiated after taking the product compared to 4.9% on a placebo, but this study did not measure weight loss.
Appestat has been approved as a medical device by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, the government body which vets new treatments. We've seen the figure of 4-6 pounds monthly weight loss average bandied about, and in one anecdotal report, a Telegraph journalist tried Appesat for four weeks and lost only four pounds--not bad, but nothing spectacular. While we value Appestat's approval as a medical device, we'd still like to see more extensive clinical trial data before we'd recommend it more highly.
Appesat is manufactured by a weight loss industry stalwart, Goldshield, which also produces the UK's current best selling slimming pill, Lipobind. There has been some media interest about the product, including a celebrity endorsement from Vanessa Phelps, who went down two dress sizes and shed a stone and a half using it for 12 weeks.
Ill Effects: There are few reported side effects from this natural product. The two clinical trials showed a small number of cases of minor nausea and abdominal pain, dizziness, temporary constipation, and a feeling of "bloatedness."
Prices: You can buy Appesat at the chemists, but you can almost always get them cheaper online, with prices around £22.93 for a month's supply.