The Independent Pharmacy

What Is Mounjaro & How Does It Work For Weight Loss

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 5 Apr 2024

When you’re trying to lose weight but a healthy lifestyle doesn’t do enough for your goals, you might be looking for more support. While on your quest, you might have noticed one of the newer additions to the market - Mounjaro. But what is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro is a new prescription weight loss treatment that offers hope and support for adults navigating the challenges of obesity or weight-related health issues. It contains the active ingredient tirzepatide, which works by influencing appetite and improving insulin regulation to aid in weight loss.

Specifically, Mounjaro works by turning on special areas in the brain that make you feel full, so you eat less. This leads to decreased food intake, making it easier to lose weight. Additionally, the active drug tirzepatide helps the body use insulin more effectively to control blood sugar levels. By improving insulin sensitivity, Mounjaro also supports the loss of fat tissue.

Together, these effects on appetite, blood sugar regulation, and insulin sensitivity make Mounjaro an innovative new option for adults trying to lose weight. It offers a mechanism of action different from other diabetes treatments or weight management drugs. Treatment with Mounjaro, combined with lifestyle changes, can lead to substantial and sustained improvements in weight for appropriate patients.

Here’s what you need to know before discussing the treatment with your doctor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mounjaro is a newly approved prescription injection to aid weight loss by lowering appetite and improving blood sugar control.
  • Used under medical supervision, Mounjaro can help appropriate patients struggling with obesity shed pounds when combined with lifestyle changes.
  • Potential side effects like digestive discomfort or injection site irritation often improve over time but require routine check-ins with your healthcare provider.

What Is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro is a new prescription medicine that was approved by MHRA in November 2023 to help manage weight in adults living with obesity. Obesity means having too much body fat to the point where it causes health problems.

Mounjaro contains the ingredient tirzepatide, which is injected under the skin to help lower appetite. It comes in an easy-to-use pen that patients use to give themselves a weekly shot. The medicine works by activating natural receptors in the body that make you feel more full after eating only a small amount of food.

Because unhealthy weight can lead to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease down the road, medicines like Mounjaro may help improve future health outcomes. It should be combined with diet, exercise, and behaviour changes for the best chance of lasting weight loss over time.

If you’ve tried other weight loss methods without the success you hoped for, your doctor may recommend Mounjaro as a compassionate next step in your journey. It has been tested rigorously for safety prior to approval for this use in adults.

How Does Mounjaro Help With Losing Weight?

The Role of Tirzepatide in Appetite Control

Mounjaro works by activating receptors in the stomach and brain that tell your body it’s time to stop eating. It includes an ingredient called tirzepatide that mimics natural fullness hormones.

After taking a dose, tirzepatide starts to circulate. This triggers nerves that signal the brain, “My stomach is full, so stop feeling hungry!” People begin feeling satisfied with much smaller meals than they would normally need to feel full or content.

Over weeks and months of weekly Mounjaro injections, smaller meal portions lead to eating fewer calories overall. This calorie deficit, paired with Mounjaro’s other effects, is what drives weight loss.

Combining Mounjaro With Lifestyle Adjustments

In addition to curbing appetite signals between the gut and brain, Mounjaro also improves insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels steady. After eating carbs or sugar, insulin removes excess glucose from the bloodstream and locks it away in cells for energy later.

For many facing obesity, their bodies may not respond to insulin as needed, leading to frustrating fluctuations in blood sugar levels. When cells reject insulin, sugar spikes in the blood and then comes crashing down. These swings lead to carb cravings, low energy, and increased hunger. Mounjaro aims to help with this common struggle.

Mounjaro makes fat, muscle, and liver cells more responsive to insulin. This means cells can take in sugar from your blood more easily, helping keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Steady blood sugar prevents the energy and mood crashes that lead to overeating and weight gain. It also enables the body to use up stored fat more efficiently when in a calorie deficit.

Who Is Mounjaro Meant For?

Mounjaro has been tested and approved for adults over age 18 struggling with obesity and weight-related health problems. But because it is a newer prescription medicine, there are considerations doctors think about before prescribing it.

In studies, Mounjaro was given to patients with a BMI over 30 or a BMI over 27 if they had at least one weight-related issue like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. These medical conditions can improve when people lose excess weight. Doctors may suggest trying Mounjaro if you fit a similar profile and have struggled to lose weight through only a balanced diet and lifestyle changes alone in the past.

It’s important to discuss all health conditions and medications with your doctor first. While Mounjaro can be safe for many, people with certain digestive issues or taking certain drugs may need adjusted dosing or supervision. For example, problems with your thyroid gland, a family history of thyroid tumours, or using blood thinners call for unique considerations.

Never try any prescription drug without approval and monitoring from your personal licensed healthcare provider. Getting lab testing done before and during the use of new medicines is also wise to ensure safety based on your unique medical profile and risk factors.

Should You Consider Trying Mounjaro?

Potential Benefits

Mounjaro can offer substantial health and quality of life improvements beyond just losing weight. Patients may see:

  • Lower blood sugar readings. This results from Mounjaro helping your body use its natural insulin more efficiently. Steady blood sugar control reduces risks for diabetes issues like nerve damage, kidney disease and vision loss over time.
  • Less need for insulin shots or other diabetes medications. As Mounjaro enhances natural insulin utilisation, some patients require fewer additional diabetes drugs.
  • Increased energy and reduced fatigue. Obesity-fueled inflammation is linked with fatigue. As Mounjaro facilitates weight loss, energy rebalances. Exercise becomes easier, further boosting energy.
  • Relief from joint pain and improved mobility. Knee and back pain caused by excess body weight may subside with even 5-10% weight reduction. Moving and physical activity increase.
  • Lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure. Dropping excess fat positively influences cardiovascular health markers like these. Heart health strengthens over time.

Possible Side Effects and Considerations

However, as with most medications aimed at altering body functions, there are some potential adverse reactions to know about. In particular, common side effects at the start of using Tirzepatide injections include stomach upset, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain.

While usually mild at the start, contact your doctor if any symptoms seem severe or don’t improve with time. There are also very small risks over the longer term - although very rare - involving liver dysfunction, pancreatitis, kidney injury or changes in mood. The risk of thyroid cancer is also listed as a precaution.

This is why following dosing instructions properly, tracking common side effects, and consulting your health care provider routinely are so important if Mounjaro is prescribed. Adjusting the dose downward or trying additional medications can help minimise adverse reactions in many cases.

Using Mounjaro Safely and Effectively

Mounjaro should be used as part of a broader weight control strategy that combines healthy lifestyle adjustments like eating more vegetables and fruits, exercising regularly, and cutting back on sugar. These diet and exercise changes work together with Mounjaro for the best weight loss results.

Have realistic expectations about the pace of your weight loss. Small, consistent changes lead to the best long-term outcomes. Work with your doctor and healthcare team to set sustainable nutrition and fitness goals. Too much too fast can backfire.

Make and attend your treatment plan appointments to monitor your blood sugar, thyroid, kidney, and liver health. Be quick to report any concerning symptoms or adverse effects so your dose can be adjusted or additional medicines can be given if needed for comfort.

Stick to your prescribed Mounjaro dose specifics carefully, and never adjust on your own. Combining with other weight loss drugs or using more than directed risks dangerous effects. Always get your provider’s approval first.

While these precautions take work and may sometimes cause mild stomach pain or nausea, proactive patient safety and oversight are crucial for positive outcomes with this new GLP-1 medication (a type of treatment designed to mimic a natural hormone in your body that regulates blood sugar and appetite).

Mounjaro Alternatives

While access to new drugs like Mounjaro may still be limited, effective prescription options for weight loss do exist. For example, other weight loss pills with active ingredients like orlistat are also approved for use when a doctor prescribes and watches over their use.

Common brand names for orlistat-based weight loss treatment options include Alli, Xenical, and Orlos. Unlike Mounjaro, which affects how hungry you feel, these pills work by stopping your gut from taking in about a quarter of the fat calories you eat. The undigested fat is then eliminated from the body, resulting in significantly lower calorie intake.

Studies show that orlistat use, in addition to a reduced-calorie diet, exercise, and behaviour changes, results in weight loss of 5-10% more on average in the first year compared to lifestyle adjustments alone. While digestive side effects like gas, bloating, or oily stool can occur, effects are typically mild to moderate.

It’s important to have an open and supportive conversation with your doctor about the various options, including non-injectable medications like Alli, Xenical, or Orlos. Together, you can find a path that feels right for you, tailored to your unique health needs and circumstances. With experts guiding your treatment plan, you’ve got additional tools to reach a healthier weight.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

We understand that losing weight can sometimes feel like a lonely and frustrating journey, but you’re not alone. At The Independent Pharmacy, we’re here to offer the support and understanding you need every step of the way.

Start by taking our private online assessment. Be totally honest about your health history, challenges losing weight so far, and what level of support would suit you best.

Our qualified professionals will send you a tailored list of suitable treatments just for your needs. We’ll explore specially approved medications that target hunger, boost energy, or help burn fat faster when combined with lifestyle adjustments.

The Mounjaro alternatives we prescribe have comparable weight loss effects for many people. Tablets also avoid injection discomfort some wish to prevent.

Guiding people towards confident, healthy lifestyles is our passion. Let us walk beside you on your weight loss journey with compassion and clinical expertise. Take the first step and complete our assessment today!

FAQs

Is Mounjaro available in the UK?

Yes, Mounjaro was recently approved for use in the UK to treat obesity and manage blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is available by prescription only and administered as a weekly self-injection.

Can you take Mounjaro if you are not diabetic?

Yes, Mounjaro can be prescribed specifically for managing weight in adults struggling with obesity, whether or not you have type 2 diabetes. But you still must meet criteria set by your prescribing doctor based on your health profile and BMI.

What’s the difference between Mounjaro and Ozempic?

While in the same injectable medication class as Wegovy, Saxenda and Ozempic, Mounjaro contains the active ingredient tirzepatide, which clinical trials showed can be more effective for weight loss in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, effects can vary individually.

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