What is Xenical?
Xenical is a prescription medication that can help obese people to lose weight. A single tablet is taken with any meal that contains dietary fat, reducing the absorption of the fat into your body. Xenical is designed for long term use as part of a wider weight loss program. For the medication to be effective, you need to stick to a calorie-controlled diet and not eat excessive amounts of fat to begin with. Xenical works by suppressing the lipase enzyme that breaks down fats in your stomach. It shouldn’t be confused with ‘diet pills’ that contain stimulants, or with ‘herbal supplements’ that promote weight loss.
What is the active ingredient of Xenical?
The active ingredient of Xenical is orlistat, a substance that suppresses the natural lipase enzyme in your stomach. Lipase breaks down the fat in foods and allows them to enter your bloodstream, eventually becoming unwanted body fat. Swallowing a single Xenical tablet with each meal will reduce the absorption of any fat that you eat.
How does Xenical work?
When you eat any food or meal containing fat, the lipase enzymes in your stomach reduce the fat to fatty acids which are then absorbed into your bloodstream. If you don’t take sufficient physical exercise, you gain body fat. When you swallow a Xenical tablet with a meal that contains fat, the active ingredient orlistat suppresses the lipase enzymes and limits the amount of fat that is absorbed by your body. Instead, the fat passes through your gut and is harmlessly expelled as part of your normal bowel movements.
Xenical is effective when used as part of a wider weight loss program that includes a calorie-controlled diet. Used correctly, the tablets can prevent the absorption of almost a third of dietary fat. Xenical doesn’t limit the absorption of sugars or carbohydrates which also cause weight gain.
Who can take Xenical?
Our online GPs are generally able to consider prescribing Xenical to adult patients who are suffering from obesity and are trying to lose weight with a calorie-controlled diet. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffer from cholestasis, or are allergic to the active ingredient orlistat, you cannot take Xenical.
Patients who are severely or morbidly obese and need to lose weight urgently may be able to use Xenical as part of a wider weight loss program. The medication may also be suitable for people with type two diabetes who have to lose weight. You will be asked to complete a short medical questionnaire and will be only prescribed Xenical if it is safe for you to use.
What doses of Xenical are available?
Xenical tablets are available with a 120mg dosage of the active ingredient orlistat. If you are prescribed Xenical, your online GP will give you precise individual instructions about how to take the medication. Typically, a single tablet is swallowed with each meal that contains fatty food. If your meal doesn’t contain any dietary fat, do not take a Xenical tablet. For optimal results, you should follow a calorie controlled diet while using the medication. Dietary fats should make up no more than 30% of each meal.
The human body requires a daily intake of dietary fats to remain healthy. Xenical does not prevent the absorption of more than around 30% of your fat intake from each meal. This will still result in additional weight loss if you use the medication correctly. You should aim to reduce your intake of fats as advised by your GP, you shouldn’t attempt to eliminate fats from your diet altogether.
How do I use Xenical?
Xenical is intended to be used as part of a structured weight loss program. For the medication to work optimally, you must stick to a calorie controlled diet. As well as containing the appropriate amount of calories, each meal should contain no more than 30% dietary fat. The rest of the food should be proteins and carbohydrates. You must try to avoid fatty snacks between meals.
Swallow a single 120mg Xenical tablet with each meal that contains dietary fat. As you digest the food, the active ingredient orlistat will suppress the lipase enzymes that reduce dietary fats to fatty acids. Around 30% of the fatty food will pass through your system and be excreted in the normal way.
Can I take Xenical and drink alcohol?
Our online GPs generally do not recommend drinking alcohol while you are taking any prescription medicine. Drinking alcohol is unlikely to cause any side effects or reduce the effectiveness of the medicine. Alcohol is however high in calories and you should consider avoiding it if you want to lose weight.
What are the side effects of Xenical?
Your Xenical tablets will come with a patient leaflet giving detailed information about the medication, its ingredients, possible side effects, and contraindications. Please read this leaflet carefully before you take any tablets. Keep the leaflet with the medication for future reference.
If you take Xenical exactly as directed by our online GP, you are unlikely to experience any significant unwelcome side effects. A small minority of patients may experience some minor side effects.
Very common side effects (affects more than 1 user in 10)
Headache, abdominal pain/discomfort, urgent or increased need to open the bowels, flatulence (wind) with discharge, oily discharge, oily or fatty stools, liquid stools, low blood sugar levels (experienced by some people with type 2 diabetes).
Common side effects (affects 1 to 10 users in 100)
Rectal pain/discomfort, soft stools, incontinence (stools), bloating (experienced by some people with type 2 diabetes), tooth/gum disorder, irregularity of menstrual cycle, tiredness.
The following side effects have also been reported but their frequency cannot be estimated from the available data:
Allergic reactions. The main symptoms are itching, rash, wheals (slightly elevated, itchy skin patches that are paler or redder than surrounding skin), severe difficulty in breathing, nausea, vomiting and feeling unwell. Skin blistering (including blisters that burst). Diverticulitis. Bleeding from the back passage (rectum). Increases in the levels of some liver enzymes may be found in blood tests. Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Symptoms can include yellowing skin and eyes, itching, dark coloured urine, stomach pain and liver tenderness (indicated by pain under the front of the rib cage on your right hand side), sometimes with loss of appetite. Gallstones. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Oxalate nephropathy (build up of calcium oxalate which may lead to kidney stones).
If you experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When should I not take Xenical?
You cannot take Xenical if you are allergic to the active ingredient orlistat or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you suffer from cholestasis or chronic malabsorption syndrome you will also be unable to use this medication.
If you suffer from any of the following medical conditions, or are taking any of the following medications, you should mention them when you complete the short online health questionnaire. You may still be able to take Xenical as part of your weight loss program, but your online GP will only prescribe the medication if it is safe for you to use.
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Anticoagulant drugs (e.g. warfarin).
- Iodine salts and/or levothyroxine.
- Amiodarone. You may ask your doctor for advice.
- Medicines to treat HIV.
- Medicines for depression, psychiatric disorders or anxiousness
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from the PDF-version from this website because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged or the medicine is from another brand.