Updated 4/18/23. Let’s talk about homeopathic HCG also referred to as HCG drops. These are homeopathic supplements that are used for weight loss. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotrophin, a hormone made when when a woman is pregnant. The original HCG diet has been around for several decades. The HCG program that uses HCG drops is a relative newcomer to the weight loss arena but is extremely popular in some, circles. Basically these products are said to contain diluted amounts of the hormone that are taken under the tongue by use of an eye dropper. Do HCG diet supplements work? Do they have any side effects? Let's look at the science and try to make sense of all this. Also see the review on HCG injections too for more information.
1 How The HCG Diet Works
The HCG diet works almost the same as the original version used by Dr. Albert Simeons. It consists of the following:
- Taking HCG and
- Eating only 500 calories per day
The only difference is that Doctor Simeons recommended injections of the HCG hormone. Homeopathic HCG supplements you find in the store are not meant to be injected. Rather you place them under your tongue to be absorbed.
According to those who sell HCG supplements, the hormone reduces appetite and helps you lose weight while helping you keep your muscle. But, I could not locate any proof that people taking sublingual HCG keep muscle while they lose weight.
Let me be clear: the HCG diet WILL cause weight loss. But, the weight people lose on this diet is NOT because of the hormone. Rather people lose weight with the HCG diet because they are eating 500 calories per day. Watch this video to see the research.
Many websites that sell homeopathic HCG drops speak about the work of Dr. Simeons but they usually don’t tell you that Dr Simeons used
injections of HCG. Doctor Simeons did not use HCG drops.
Because homeopathic HCG may contain small amounts of alcohol, recovering alcoholics should not use these products if they believe it may interfere with their recovery.
Remember. The people who sell homeopathic HCG drops love to tell you about Dr. Simeon's weight loss protocol and his HCG research. BUT Dr. Simeons did not use homeopathic HCG drops.
Let's discuss three reasons why Dr. Simeons did not use homeopathic HCG, and by doing so, you will know why this HCG program cannot possibly work.
2 What Are Homeopathic HCG Drops?
Homeopathy means taking a substance (in this case, HCG) and diluting it over and over with water. This dilution continues until the final dilution contains none (zero) of the original substance.
This means that homeopathic HCG has no HCG. Rather, HCG drops are just water (sometimes other things like vitamin B12 are added but this other stuff usually has no weight loss effect). Here is my review of vitamin B12 and weight loss if you want more info.
Some people say that homeopathic HCG stings when its placed under the tongue. This may be because of the alcohol or other ingredients in homeopathic HCG.
The final homeopathic dilution is said to contain the “memory” of the original substance. The “memory” of the substance is what is supposed to be the active ingredient in homeopathic preparations.
How can an inert substance like water contain a memory? This makes no sense from a scientific point of view. Fact. Nobody who sells HCG drops can show you clinical proof that their product has a memory of HCG. Ask them and you will see that I am right.
3 What Is HCG Made Of?
HCG is a hormone that is made of protein. When we eat food that is made of protein – like chicken – the protein in the food is broken down into the amino acids that make up that protein.
This is why chicken isn’t absorbed in the body as chicken. The same is true for HCG drops. When you take HCG by mouth, the protein that makes up the HCG is digested and absorbed as individual amino acids.
The amino acids that HCG is made of are used to do whatever the body needs to get done. The body does not reassemble those amino acids back into HCG hormone after they are absorbed.
4 Homeopathic HCG Drops Proof
To determine if homeopathic supplements containing the HCG hormone worked, I searched the National Library of Medicine (pubmed.gov), a list of millions of studies from around the world. I searched this database using these terms:
- HCG drops
- HCG drops and weight loss
- Oral HCG
- HCG supplements
- homeopathic HCG
- Homeopathic human chorionic gonadotrophin
- Human chorionic gonadotrophin drops
- Human chorionic gonadotrophin supplements
None of these terms or phrases revealed any clinical studies. The only studies I did see were for the original HCG diet.
Websites that market sublingual HCG drops often talk about how they are “FDA Approved,” but this doesn't mean the FDA says homeopathic HCG drops cause weight loss. Update. The FDA now says HCG Drops are illegal.
The FDA-approved statement only means that the company has met the homeopathic medication requirements that the FDA stipulates. These requirements include listing the dilution, and instructions for the safety and purity of the product. Here is more on FDA conditions for homeopathic medications.
On March 9, 2011 the TV show Nightline did a story on homeopathic HCG and weight loss. They made a good point when they revealed that the FDA requires HCG labels to state that several clinical trials since the 1970s have shown HCG does not help weight loss.
As I revealed in my review of HCG injections, the research goes back to the 1950s, and ALL of that research is on injections of HCG. 99% of those clincal trials also revealed that it didn't work.
5 Can HCG Raise Testosterone Levels?
One of the claims for HCG weight loss protocols is that it stimulates the production of testosterone, an anabolic hormone that helps build muscle. There is some evidence that HCG can raise testosterone levels. But the evidence is for injected HCG. What about taking the HCG hormone by mouth? There appears to be no good proof taking HCG supplements can raise testosterone levels in people. Weight loss is known to raise testosterone. Is it possible that elevations in testosterone via the HCG diet are due to simply eating fewer calories?
6 Can You Purchase HCG Drops In Stores?
Local shops like Walmart and others may sell homeopathic human chorionic gonadotropin. If you go shopping for them, look at the labels carefully. Some supplements may contain additional ingredients such as caffeine, arginine, green tea, chromium and African Mango.
If you see this, the question to ask yourself is: if HCG drops really worked so well, then why do the supplements need those additional ingredients?
7 FDA And HCG Supplements
In 2013, the FDA stated that homeopathic HCG products are illegal. Both the FDA and FTC also sent letters to companies that make these products, telling them that they are illegal too. letters and warnings aside, I have still seen HCG weight loss remedies sold at health food stores. But what you see in stores may not be the HCG hormone. What is it, then? See the next section.
8 HCG Weight Loss Supplement Remedies
Since the FDA and FTC have clammed down companies that sold homeopathic HCG products, a new line of supplements has cropped up that contain “HCG” on the label. Do they contain the HCG hormone?
Most of these supplements contain ingredients that raise the body's natural production of HCG. Supplements like these may be identified by words such as an HCG activator or an HCG catalyst. Others may contain “drops” in the name of the product.
These supplements do not contain HCG hormones but rather ingredients that are supposed to boost HCG production. Supplements said to boost HCG production may contain ingredients like:
Whether or not these ingredients effectively raise HGC hormone levels in people needs more study.
9 HCG Drops: Pros / Cons
Here's a quick rundown of the benefits and not-so-benefits of using HCG weight loss supplements
|Easy to use
|Lack of clinical proof they work
|Some people online say they work
|must eat a VERY low calorie diet (example 500 cal/day)
|Do they really contain HCG hormone?
|Do they really raise HCG levels in people?
|Some products may be expensive
10 HCG Weight Loss Side Effects
I know the HCG drops and Doctor Simeons diet protocol are lauded and criticized. Here are some things to consider if you embark on this weight loss protocol. This list is not complete:
Eating only 500 calories per day may lead to the following:
- Muscle loss
- Hair loss
- Reduce wound healing
- Lack of energy
As we learned from the study of former contestants of the Biggest Loser TV show, rapid weight loss may lead to lower metabolic rates. That's not to say the HCG weight loss program would do this too. It's something to consider for those who tend to gain and lose weight regularly.
Don't use the HCG weight loss program while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Stop using HCG drops/HCG injections at least two weeks before having surgery.
One report has possibly linked HCG drops to deep vein thrombosis (blood clots). This stems from a 64-year-old woman who was taking 20 HCG drops per day under the tongue for weight loss. Two weeks after she started HCG, her symptoms started. Given the complexity of the human body, it's hard to know if HCG was linked to her blood clots.
Obviously, without clinical studies on HCG supplements, it's challenging to know what the side effects – if any- might be. Use this as a guide to discuss with your doctor whether an HCG weight loss program is right for you.
11 Does The HCG Diet Work?
Logic tells us that people lose weight with HCG drops because they are only eating 500 calories per day. That said, does this mean HCG drops don't help at all? As seen in the comments below, some people swear this stuff works. While I take them at their word, I still feel we need clinical studies to know.
Even if you don't believe it's all about the calories, before you spend your $40 – $60 a month on HCG supplements, ask the person selling the product if they have any clinical proof that homeopathic HCG drops – plus eating 500 calories per day – causes more weight loss than ONLY eating 500 calories per day. Don't accept the research of Dr. Albert Simeons because he didn't use HCG drops. He used injections of HCG.