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Sanorex: Diet Pills in Japan

Mazindol is a prescription drug available at many beauty clinics in Japan, sold under the brand name Sanorex. As an appetite suppressant, it was surprisingly effective in my quest to lose weight and improve my health. But it comes with a long list of risks and side effects.

Before living in Japan I had never heard of Sanorex or Mazindol. It is no longer prescribed in the US or other Western countries as a treatment for obesity and is rarely prescribed for anything else. I'd come across it referenced by people in Japanese forums, and surprisingly prescribed at many beauty clinics I've visited.

The reported effectiveness for weight loss perked my curiosity. I decided to do some research to see what I could find and then made the decision to give it a try.

Note: Before starting the medication I had already had a physical checkup with a doctor and was working with a nutritionist.

When I first started taking it, its effects were immediate and very strong. I was quite skeptical of its ability to negate my habits of emotionally eating, so I was not expecting how effective it would be as an appetite suppressor. In the first 3 months of taking Sanorex, I rarely felt the physical sensation of hunger or the need to eat. It wasn’t until my body gave me strong physical cues, such as hunger pangs or loud hunger sounds that I would realize that I needed to eat. (This is something you need to watch out for!)

Sanorex is a tricyclic, anorectic, non-amphetamine stimulant and does affect your brain function. It behaves similarly to an amphetamine. With that, there was an impact on my energy levels and my sleep habits, along with heart rate and body temperature.

Does Sanorex Work For Weight Loss?

It worked for me, for short-term use. But like any prescription drug, its effects will depend on the individual. My first 3 months were the most dramatic, and the following 3 (after a 1 month break) still produced results. After that, my body did start to plateau and adjust. Within the first year of use I lost about 20kg.

3 months on, 1 month off, 3 months on, 1 month off, 3 months on.

After that, it seemed like my body completely adjusted to the medication and my weight plateaued.

During that year my BMI decreased from 36.9 (obese), to 29.2 (overweight).

While my weight didn’t drop as dramatically as it did in the first 6/7 months, continuing to use Sanorex allowed me to develop healthy habits, like portion control. The emotional aspect of eating was almost completely removed in the first 6/7 months. After the effects of the drug started to decline (my body adjusted to the dosage), the physical effects of hunger were still somewhat muted, but the emotional eating habits were less controlled.

It felt like the mental roadblock I had with dieting was removed. I was able to think clearly about my nutritional needs, only ate recommended portions and rarely felt cravings.

As time went on, it was easier to resist the emotional aspects of eating; It was a tool that helped me discover my triggers for comfort eating, and almost reintroduced me to the physical cues I had been ignoring for years. I found it difficult to stop eating when I was full, or avoided eating when I was actually hungry, leading to overeating later in the day.

Like any weight loss product, you do need to put effort into maintaining your diet and health. You won’t effectively lose weight and maintain that weight without any changes to your daily eating habits. My eating habits changed drastically, and that’s what ultimately lead to my weight loss.

It’s definitely not a magic pill, although at times it does feel like it.

For myself, it eased the emotional attachments I had with eating and allowed me to actually follow my meal plans successfully without the emotional or physical draw to overeat.

For someone like myself who uses food as comfort, using Sanorex allowed me to separate the emotional and physical aspects of food and nutrition. It was a tool I used primarily to reform habits, rather than just for weight loss.

How much does Sanorex cost in Japan?

On average, a monthly supply (28 days) of Sanorex will cost about 24,000 JPY (about $200 USD). On many clinic websites, they write the price for Sanorex as the cost per pill, which usually ranges from 770 to 1000 JPY. If you use Sanorex for the 3 month period, your total will be close to about 72,000 JPY ($600 USD approximately).

How to buy Sanorex in Japan?

It was surprisingly easy to get prescribed Sanorex by a doctor at a beauty clinic. Because I'm not fluent in Japanese I did need to bring an interpreter to my initial appointment.

I filled out a basic information form, which included if I was currently on any anti-depressants or was diagnosed with any mental illnesses. It also asked about allergies, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and other general health questions. After the form was complete, they had me weigh in on a scale at the office and my BMI was recorded.

Dosage instructions were given; take one pill a day with food or milk, around or before lunchtime. Drink a lot of water.

And that was pretty much it. I was given the okay to start the medication and was told to come back in a month.

Given what I’d read online about side effects I was a little surprised that my blood pressure wasn’t recorded, nor were there any questions about my heart health. Before visiting the clinic I did have these things checked, but the clinic relied on my own knowledge of my current state of health to self-report whether or not I had any conflicting health conditions.

The moral here: make sure you actually know what your state of health is and whether or not you have any conflicting health conditions. If you don’t you could possibly be putting yourself at risk.

I left the clinic that day with a 28 day supply of medication.

How long should I take Sanorex?

If you don’t have any heart problems and aren’t on any conflicting medications and have a high BMI, you can be prescribed Sanorex for up to 3 months at a time in Japan. You will need to visit the doctor monthly to do a weigh in and purchase your next month's supply. Some clinics will only prescribe the medication 14 days at a time.

After 3 months, you must take a one-month break.

I found the first 2 “rounds” the most effective for me; 3 months on, 1 month off, 3 months on.

Your body will build a tolerance to the medication, making it less effective the longer you use it.

What are the common side effects?

The most noticeable side effects for me personally were that it raised my body temperature, raised my resting heart rate and made me incredibly thirsty. These side effects are considered common, and though slightly uncomfortable, were nothing that impeded by daily life.The most common side effects reported for Mazindol are dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, constipation, headache, and dizziness. An increased heart rate is common during use (and for some time after).

For reference, before taking Sanorex my resting heart rate was 80bpm (healthy range). After continued use my resting heart rate averages at 110bpm (above the average range).

An increase in blood pressure is common and should be monitored throughout your use.

Should you take Sanorex?

I’d recommend trying it if you're financially able, are not on any other conflicting medications, and are in general good health. While in Japan I ABSOLUTELY recommend working with a doctor throughout any lifestyle changes. Since different doctors have different specialities and monitor different things, you should keep a record of your current health, medications, diagnosis and other information important for your wellbeing.

The doctors at Japanese beauty clinics may not check things like heart rate or blood pressure when prescribing these medications, meaning that if you do develop a problem while taking it, you may not know and put yourself at risk. You need to be responsible for your own health.

If your in overall good health and just need that extra boost to help change your lifestyle, it could very well side you on your journey.

As I mentioned above, this isn’t a magic pill. And because it’s so expensive and carries risks you want to make sure that you’re mentally and physically in the right place to start taking it. Your daily energy, sleep, hydration levels, and concentration will all be affected by this medication. You need to make an informed decision on if this is the right step for you.

Before starting I recommend:

  • Consult with a doctor, specifically to check your heart health and blood pressure.

  • If possible consult with a nutritionist or dietician to come up with a meal plan to follow. This is especially important in the first few months of use, as you may not feel any signs of hunger and as a result, become malnourished. It's important to improve or maintain your health, not just lose weight.

  • Research local clinics. There are slight pricing differences.

  • Set a goal to improve your overall health and maintain lifestyle habits. You won’t be able to stay on this medication forever, so use your time on the medication to develop healthy habits.

If you find yourself becoming dependent on Sanorex or developing eating disorder behaviors, stop immediately. It's considered an addictive medication and if not used properly can lead to other physical and mental health conditions.

Who shouldn’t take Sanorex?

People I wouldn't recommend Sanorex to:

  • Anyone with a history of addiction, addictive behavior, or eating disorders. Mazindol can be habit forming.

  • People who are currently on any medication for mental conditions, have depression or any other mental health conditions.

  • People who haven't had a recent health checkup, or who haven't consulted with a doctor before starting Sanorex.

There is a long list of conflicting medications and health conditions for Mazindol/Sanorex. If mixed, it can lead to dangerous side effects.

It is no longer prescribed in the US and other Western countries for the treatment of obesity and is rarely prescribed for other conditions. It is still widely prescribed in Japan for the treatment of obesity.

This article is an unbiased user experience from a non-medical professional. It is not sponsored. This information is not intended as medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional before taking Sanorex.

Sources referenced:


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