These Weight Loss Methods Work, but They’re Extremely Dangerous

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In this age of Instagram models and fitness gurus, it’s not hard to see why more and more people want to look a certain way. Proper weight loss is safe and healthy — such as reducing calorie intake and increasing exercise. Other, more dangerous methods provide quick results but at more of an expense than just dollar signs. These methods might work in the short term, but they come with some serious side effects.


Woman lying on couch with hand on stomach suffering from a stomachache.

Consuming a tapeworm is not a very good idea. | iStock.com/champja

The tapeworm diet dates back to the 19th century. A tapeworm is ingested and then feeds on the digested food we’ve consumed, which helps drop weight. Doctors do not recommend this diet at all. “Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Health, said in 2013. Tape worms can grow up to 50 feet long in the intestine and pose risks like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The Master Cleanse

Hot water with lemon | iStock.com

This “Master Cleanse” consists of three things: water, laxatives, and a lemon water concoction. This 650-calorie diet, far less than the recommend 2,000 calories daily, can last anywhere from 10 to 45 days, depending on the diet plan. Fasting is dangerous because it deprives the body of nutrients, and the low calorie intake means it isn’t safe to exercise while on this diet. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, and there is no scientific evidence that it actually rids the body of toxins.

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Woman smoker smoking

There are other ways you can lose weight. | iStock.com/Terroa

Smoking has long been supposed to enhance weight loss. According to Livestrong.com, the average smoker weighs anywhere from six to 10 pounds less than a nonsmoker. A 2010 study showed that tobacco companies have modified cigarettes through the years to give them more of an “appetite suppressant” quality. While it may be a weight loss tactic, it’s not instant, and smoking causes potentially deadly side effects like emphysema and lung cancer.

Cotton ball diet

Cotton balls in a bowl

Your body can’t properly digest cotton balls. | iStock.com

This one cuts out food all together. Instead of eating real food, dieters soak five cotton balls in orange juice, lemonade or a smoothie with the intention of trying to “feel full” without eating. Cotton is not actually what makes up most cotton balls. They’re polyester fibers full of chemicals, which is terrible for the body. Another risk is the inability to digest the cotton balls, which creates a trapped mass that can cause harmful blockage.

Plastic tongue patch

girl with a serious sore throat

There has to be a better way. | iStock.com/patrisyu

This weight loss method is not as dangerous as it is painful. Dr. Nikolas Chugay brought this method to the United States in 2009 after seeing it in Latin America. Dr. Chugay sews a mesh patch onto the patient’s tongue with stitches, causing such excruciating pain that the patient is forced to stick to a liquid diet. The $2,000 procedure takes about 10 minutes. The patch is removed after one month, usually resulting in 18-20 pounds lost.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drugs

Illegal stimulants like cocaine cause metabolic changes that can reduce the body’s ability to store fat, which makes it easier to lose weight. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration warns that the effects of cocaine include high blood pressure, seizures, and neurological problems, along with stroke or sudden cardiac death. Other side effects can occur depending on the method through which the drug enters the body (snorting, ingesting, smoking, etc.).

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Ear stapling

female feet on a weighing scale

The scale won’t budge too much with this method. | iStock.com

Some believe that inserting small surgical staples into the inner cartilage of the ear can curb the appetite. It stems from acupuncture and the idea that pressure points within the ear can suppress hunger pangs. This process poses a high risk of infection if done incorrectly or in unsanitary conditions. Also, there is no scientific proof to say whether or not it is an effective weight loss method.

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