By Dr. Rick Morris

Well, the holidays just started and I wasn’t terrible on Thanksgiving. At least, it could have been worse. The stuffing and the few samples of desserts probably equaled what I missed by skipping breakfast….Anyway, I’m going to start a serious exercise program the first of the year, and

Maybe I’ll try Cortislim or Trimspa.

Alright… let’s look into these products.


Cortislim claims to control your weight by reducing your body’s cortisol levels. It’s a hormone that lowers your immunity, breaks down your muscles, accelerates aging and raises your blood sugar which can turn into fat!

So, how can I lower my cortisol levels?

The answer: By decreasing stress (physical and emotional) and avoiding prolonged hours of fasting between meals or, If you believe the maker’s of Cortislim, by taking their pill.

Its ingredients include Magnolia Bark (containing Honokiol) an anti-anxiety herb reported to be quite effective in animal studies but still unproven in humans. Cortislim also contains Venadryl and Chromium, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and may prevent some of the cravings that comes with blood sugar fluctuation. But to claim that it reduces your cortisol levels and makes you lose weight is a big stretch. So, the FDA sent them a warning to prove these claims. Then, on September 30, 2004, the FTC sued the makers of Cortislim for false advertising and misleading the public. Well, so much for Cortislim.

Trimspa - Ephederine Free

We’ve all seen Anna Nicole Smith lose about 10 sizes as a spokeswoman for Trimspa. She’s on billboards, awards shows and even the Howard Stern Show.

So, what’s in it and does it work?

Trimspa used to be very effective but potentially dangerous. It contained ephedra (Ma Huang), caffeine from Cola Nut, and Guarana, and Willow Bark (the herbal form of aspirin). The combination of ephedra, caffeine and aspirin is a powerful weight loss formula, and was the basis of most “fat burner”. It burned calories, but was like taking Speed. It had a bad side effect of increasing your chances for a heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and even insanity. So, after a few well publicized deaths, the FDA outlawed ephedra forcing the weight loss industry to find other combinations. So bring in the new Trimspa.

It’s kindler, gentler and less effective. It contains Glucomannan (a fiber source), Vanadium and Chromium (may regulate your blood sugar and decrease your appetite) and Hoodia extract (another appetite suppressant) as well as many of the typical “weight loss” ingredients listed below.

Typical Ingredients Found In Most Weight Loss Pills. Do They Do Anything? What Should I Look For?

  • Enzymes (e.g. amylase, bromelain): They may help you digest your food, but they won’t help you lose weight.

  • Trikatu Blend (e.g. ginger and black and cayenne peppers): These spices help you sweat and will have a minor effect on burning fat.

  • Green Tea: It has some caffeine, helps regulate blood sugar and slightly increases your metabolism--but don’t expect miracles.

  • Caffeine: Decreases your appetite and speeds up your metabolism a bit, but plays havoc with your adrenal glands, increases anxiety, raises blood pressure, and causes stomach irritation.

  • Garcinia Cambogia: Contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA) which is touted as a “carbohydrate blocker”. It works in the test tube, but not in humans.

  • Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium): Contains synephrine, but unlike its illegal cousin ephedrine, it doesn’t speed up your metabolism.

  • Phaseolus Vulgaris: The main ingredient in most “Carb Blockers”. It’s supposed to block the breakdown of carbohydrates and prevent their absorption, but the research just doesn’t substantiate those claims. In October 2004, the FDA issued a warning to quit making these claims or action will be taken (

So, Once Again, How Do I Lose Weight?

Some of these points you already know and some you may not….

  1. Increase the fiber in your diet or slowly add fiber as a supplement. It decreases your absorption of fat, lowers your cholesterol and prevents intestinal cancer. Start slowly or you’ll end up with a bad stomachache and lots of gas.

  2. Try Chromium Picolinate (200 mcg 2 or 3 times per day) to balance your blood sugar, prevent cravings, and keep your energy up. For some people, it will noticeably suppress their appetite. It works by increasing the sensitivity of your body’s insulin which often becomes less sensitive due to genetics, aging, poor diet and a lack of exercise.

  3. Eat small meal/snacks throughout the day. Don’t let more than three hours pass without eating something. Keep it light and healthy. Prolonged lapses without eating slow your metabolism and increase your blood cortisol.

  4. Exercise after your last meal. This elevates your metabolism and burns calories while you’re sleeping.

  5. Lift weights. Each extra pound of muscle you gain burns an additional 50 calories per day. In other words, putting on 10 pounds of muscle will burn 3500 calories per week (equaling one pound of fat) by increasing your metabolism.

  6. Use whatever diet approach works best for you. Support groups often help or try the “Pepper Method” (this is my favorite). Whenever I’ve eaten enough and I’m starting to “pick” until everything is gone from my plate, I douse the remaining food with pepper. I hate the taste and will then leave it alone. Use whatever works for you.

  7. Write down the cause of your inability to lose weight. Be honest…you probably know what it is--some examples are sugary cold drinks, beer, ice cream, or possibly just eating too much food. In fact, most of us could get away with eating many of the foods we love, if we’re willing to just eat less. Try and make a deal with your inner brat that doesn’t want to give up anything. Let it have all that it wants of that food one day a week if it will behave the other six days.

I wish I could tell you an easy way. For most of us, there is none. Have you noticed that most things you’re really proud of and that brought you joy took will power, hard work and some sacrifice? What’s worse is that some of us have to work harder than others. It’s not fair, is it? Yes that’s true, now get over it. Nothings fair. Your victory is the great equalizer.



Rick H. Morris, D.C., C.C.S.P., Q.M.E., A.B.A.A.H.P.
April Hopson, D.C.

1243 7th Street, Suite B, Santa Monica, California 90401
tel: 310-451-5851 | fax:310-458-0051
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