A controversy has begun around the world over the possibility of using diet patches to help suppress the appetite during the Ramadan fast.
In 2008, a Turkish Islamic scholar declared the use of the patches during Ramadan as being permissible.
Mehmet Baris, the mufti or highest Muslim authority, in the southern province of Adana, Turkey, stated that the diet patches can be a tool in teaching oneself discipline.
For this reason, he feels that the patches aren’t objectionable. Theology professor Kerim Yavuz said that since the patches are used on the skin they classify as “showering or applying a pomade on the skin.”
The ruling caused controversy as questions arose on whether or not using an appetite suppressant defied one of the core purposes of fasting, namely to teach Muslims patience and will power as well as to provide Muslims with the feeling of hunger to make them more compassionate toward the poor.
Another divisive question is whether the patches provide any nutritional value, thus breaking the fast. Sheikh Abdul-Wahhab bin Nasser Al-Tirairi, a senior Muslim scholar, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia said that if the patches are found to provide any nutritional value, they wouldn’t be permissible to use during the fast, according to an article in the Daily News Egypt.
Ingredients of Diet Patches: there are many brands of diet patches, and different patches contain different ingredients. The five most common ingredients in diet patches include:
- Guarana, which contains caffeine to decrease hunger and speed up metabolism.
- Chromium, which speeds up insulin production.
- Garcinia cambogia, also known as hydroxycitric acid (HCA), to prevent the conversion of carbohydrates into fat. This tropical fruit helps the communication to the brain signaling that you have had enough to eat.
- Fucus Vesiculosus, commonly known as bladderwrack or brown seaweed, which stimulates the thyroid to producing more hormones to increase energy.
- Hoodia, which suppresses the appetite.
The main ingredient of Fucus vesiculous is iodine.
Diet-patch manufacturers claim iodine can stimulate the thyroid gland to produce increased amounts of hormones that speed up metabolism.
Iodine is a necessary element in the human body, being an essential component of the hormone produced by the thyroid that manages mental and physical development.
However, we only need iodine in trace amounts, which we easily get through iodized table salt.
Despite iodine being a natural element, there are still dangers to be aware of when it is being consumed. Iodine can burn the skin and mucous membranes.
Too much iodine intake can interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland, which can lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or thyroid papillary cancer.
According to Columbia University’s Health Q&A Internet Service, since excessive amounts of iodine disturb normal hormonal operations, using patches containing Fucus vesiculous can be harmful to people with diabetes or heart problems.
A new, hot trend in dieting is the use of the herb hoodia. Marketed as an appetite suppressant, hoodia is claimed to trick the brain into feeling that you have had enough food.
The compound in hoodia known as P57 can imitate glucose in our blood, which when reaches the brain, tells us that we are full.
However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is no scientific evidence that hoodia works to suppress the appetite.
There are very few research reports on the effects or the effectiveness of hoodia. One potential danger of hoodia is the possibility that it can affect liver function.
Jasjit Bindra, a former hoodia researcher at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, claimed that hoodia’s active ingredient, P57, can cause negative affects on the liver, though there are no studies to verify this claim.
Even if hoodia is clinically found to be safe, there is no guarantee that all of the products claiming to be hoodia truly contain it.
Hoodia, a cactus-like plant in South Africa, is such an endangered plant that with the high consumer demand for it right now, it is unlikely that there is much, if any, real hoodia in products advertized as hoodia, stated consumerlab.com, an online company that tests product labels.
How Patches Work
When patches are applied to the skin, the chemicals in the patches are slowly absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream.While prescription patches such as nicotine patches are clinically tested and proven effective, there are no scientific studies to indicate whether diet patches should be considered nutritional or even useful in any way.
The US Federal Trade Commission ordered in 2005 a permanent halt to an Australian company for advertising bogus claims on their diet-patch products.
It is unclear at this time whether any of the ingredients in diet patches actually control appetite or help one lose weight. And they may instead be harmful to your health.
As far as the use of these diet patches to assist fasting in Ramadan, Sheikh Al-Tirairi stated that before any decision on their use during fasting is made, the patches should be tested for their nutritional value.
Without concrete evidence one way or the other on the permissibility of using diet patches to suppress one’s appetite while fasting, each of us has to choose between either following the Turkish mufti’s opinion or following the saying, “When in doubt, leave it out.”
“Diet Patches.” Safe Slimming. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.“Court Orders Permanent Halt to Illegal Spamming, Bogus Claims.” Federal Trade Commission. 20 Sep. 2005. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
El-Kady, Nouran. “Diet Patches: A Smoother Ride Through Ramadan.” Daily News Egypt. 24 Aug. 2008. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“Herbs at a Glance: Hoodia.” US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. June 2008. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
Holt, Stephen. “How Does Hoodia Gordonii on Appetite Suppression?” Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“Hoodia Appetite Suppressant Review: Do Hoodia Product Like HoodiaLife, Desert Burn And Hoodoba Work?” Ultimate Fat Burner. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“How Hoodia Work.” Hoodi XR. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“Iodine.” World’s Healthiest Foods. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“It’s Elemental: Iodine.” Jefferson Lab: Science Education. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
Pratt, David. “The Controversy of Diet Patches to Lose Weight.” Internet Health Library. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“To Diet Patch or Not?” Columbia University’s Health Q&A Internet Service. 10 Feb. 2006. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008. “Are There Any Hoodia Side Effects?” The Health Care Center. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.
“Turks Turn to Diet Patches to Ease Ramadan Fasting.” AFP. 22 Aug. 2008. Accessed 3 Sep. 2008.