Stephen Holt MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Emeritus), Scientific Advisor to Natural Clinician LLC

The major reactivation of interest in the use of very low calorie diets accompanied by the administration of HCG has started to provoke debate and confusion among medical practitioners. The use of small dosages of injected HCG (150 IU per/day) together with calorie restriction to a level of approximately 500 Kcal/day was proposed by ATW Simeons in 1954 (1). The Simeons HCG diet protocol became very popular in the 1960’S and 1970’s but it precipitated much controversy. Pooled data from several studies utilizing the HCG weight control program implied that HCG had little to offer beyond the proposed severe calorie restriction in the protocol. That said, Dr. Simeons referred to quality of clinical outcome and not just the isolated efficacy of HCG itself. A body of scientific literature has become available in the past couple of decades that provides exciting indirect support for the use of HCG in weight control. In brief, HCG may promote testosterone secretion, alter leptin dynamics, exert thyroid stimulating actions, promote lypolysis and stimulate growth hormone secretion. Piecing together these putative actions of HCG form a valid basis for the rational use of HCG in weight control. Material deviations from standard HCG protocols have occurred in the past and are now occurring in the present. Added to the original suggestions of Simeons are the use of homeopathic HCG drops and even oral dosage forms of HCG itself. The Simeons diet has not been supported by many scholarly articles, but widespread anecdotal benefits of this diet have been presented repeatedly at national medical conferences. It is time to reappraise the use of HCG and very low calorie diet in the management of obesity or overweight status. Physicians must develop a fundamental understanding of earlier evaluations of the Simeons protocol which were quite incomplete, but strong in their rebuttal of Simeon’s proposals. The HCG diet remains in search of an evidence base but it has now become established as a new diet revolution in the practice of Integrative Medicine (2).


1. Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954
2. Holt S. The HCG Diet Revolution: In Search of an Evidence-Base. (In Press) 2011

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