The weight loss medication semaglutide can curb cravings for certain foods and alcohol.
Some users say it changes their taste preferences, making them prefer kale to fried chicken.
Other side effects can include diarrhea and bloating, but also a mood boost, according to patients.
Semaglutide, initially designed to treat diabetes and approved for weight loss in 2021, works by acting on hormones that regulate appetite and blood sugar, causing patients to feel full more quickly. It's sold under the brand names Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus.
The drug is considered safe, and the most common side effects are gastrointestinal issues like nausea and stomach cramps, weight loss doctors previously told Insider.
However, patients are also reporting unexpected side effects ranging from benefits like improved mood to less positive occurrences like diarrhea and loss of interest in beloved foods.
Digestive issues may include surprise diarrhea
While semaglutide users sometimes experience constipation, especially when they first begin taking the medication, the opposite problem occurs in about 30% of people taking the drug, according to clinical trials.
Several semaglutide patients on social media said they experienced unexpected diarrhea that was so sudden and forceful, it caused them to poop their pants in public.
Some users also said that persistence flatulence could turn into diarrhea without warning, according to one Reddit thread.
Burping and bloating can occur
In clinical trials of people using semaglutide for weight loss, 7% reported abdominal bloat and 6% reported gassiness.
Semaglutide may make formerly favorite foods seem disgusting
While semaglutide helps with weight loss by reducing appetite, some patients have reported it seems to work too well, preventing them from enjoying food they used to love.
Something about the medication may change hormones and influence our sense of taste, making people disgusted by foods like French fries and candy bars, Insider's Anna Medaris previously reported.
One woman went from a lifelong coffee drinker to unable to stomach the stuff, and some users shared on Reddit that treats like donuts and French fries suddenly tasted bitter.
Healthy foods like kale and smoothies may taste better
However, the woman who lost her taste for coffee also stopped craving fast food chicken and suddenly loved the taste of kale salad. Another semaglutide patient previously told Insider she no longer had a taste for meat, but felt a new desire for smoothies.
It's not clear what may be driving the change in tastes. Semaglutide is effective for weight loss in part because it works on the reward centers of the brain, reducing the rush of feel-good chemicals we'd normally get from a treat.
It could be that the primary hormone affected by semaglutide, called GLP-1, has a deeper relationship with taste cells, too, changing how we interpret signals coming from the mouth, neuroscience professor Lynnette McCluskey previously told Insider.
Semaglutide might stop you from craving a drink
Along with cravings for sweet and salty treats, some semaglutide patients lost their desire to indulge in alcoholic beverages, Insider's Anna Medaris previously reported.
The medication is so effective at curbing alcoholic cravings it may have potential to help fight addiction.
Many semaglutide patients were happy to cut back, but a few users said the medication led to more severe side effects like nausea after a few cocktails or glasses of wine.
Some semaglutide users report less stress, anxiety and depression
One surprising benefit of semaglutide might be better mood and less anxiety and stress, according to some patients posting on social media (although other posts reported the opposite effects of less energy and worse mood). While the placebo effect may explain some mood improvements, research has suggested that GLP-1 might play a role in depression, so medications that influence the hormone could affect mood.
Some semaglutide users also told Insider it boosted their mental health by helping reduce feelings of shame about their weight. They said fewer cravings meant they spent less time worrying about food, and had more mental energy to focus on other things, resulting in a greater sense of wellbeing in their day-to-day life .
Read the original article on Insider