The HCG Diet: Fact vs. Fiction

By Pieter Cohen, MD, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School

Posted on | By Pieter Cohen, MD

Do hCG drops work?

hCG is also sold in stores and on the Internet as drops. Since injecting over a hundred international units of hCG is not proven to work for weight loss, drops which barely contain any hCG do not work.


Are hCG drops legal?

No. The hormone hCG has never been approved to be in any product sold directly to consumers. The leader of the FDA’s Internet and Fraud Team has said all such products are illegal.

I’ve heard that a physician is providing the hCG shots for weight loss. Is that legal?

Yes. After the FDA approves medications for one indication (for example, hCG is approved for treating infertility), physicians can use approved medications in any way they wish. So, even though all studies show that it doesn’t work, physicians can still legally inject anyone with hCG. Of course, the overwhelming majority of physicians would not give someone a medicine that has been proven to be ineffective. 

If I'm experiencing negative side effects from the HCG diet, what should I do?

  • Stop the diet if you haven’t already.
  • Inform your personal physician.
  • Inform the FDA

Article written by Pieter Cohen, MD
Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School