Triax Metabolic Accelerator is a hazardous supplement that attempts to stimulate weight loss by capturing hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) in a bottle. It contains a natural compound used in some prescription medicines, triiodothyroacetic acid (triac), which supposedly increases the activity of the thyroid gland. The gland controls your metabolism like a thermostat, and cranking it up can help you burn energy and lose weight. In fact, the hallmark of an overactive thyroid is rapid, unexplained weight loss on the order of 10 pounds per month.
Triax is one dietary supplement that has drawn the ire of the Food and Drug Administration. Nearly 10 years ago, the FDA declared that Triax was not a supplement at all but an unapproved drug with potentially serious side effects.
The federal health agency urged consumers to stop taking any products containing TRIAC. After the FDA issued its warning, many products were recalled. Although the manufacturer of Triax agreed to halt production of the supplement, it may still be available in health food stores and over the Internet.
Does Triax work?
Marketers like to refer to the active ingredient triac as a "prohormone," suggesting that it fuels production of the hormones that stoke the thyroid. If this were true, Triax Metabolic Accelerator would quickly burn off unwanted pounds, and probably a few wanted ones as well. But triac is really a hormone mimic, and nobody knows what natural purpose, if any, the compound serves in the body.
Experts are similarly uncertain about how triac works when taken in supplement form. While some studies suggest that triac supplements may enhance the effect of thyroid hormones, there's no guarantee that the compound can dramatically cut your weight. One European study of 10 mildly obese people found that subjects who combined long-term triac therapy with a low-calorie diet didn't lose any more weight than those who simply dieted.
Is Triax safe?
No. According to the FDA, anything that stimulates the thyroid also has the potential to cause insomnia, nervousness, intense sweating, and, in the long term, depression, osteoporosis, and irregular heartbeat. The FDA warns that Triax may cause heart attacks and strokes as well.
Although Triax doesn't seem to have a very powerful effect on the thyroid, it can apparently stimulate the gland just enough to trigger some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. And as anyone with a naturally overactive thyroid can tell you, having a metabolic thermostat stuck on "high" is far from a blessing. The FDA reports that several people taking Triax had to seek medical attention for symptoms of abnormal thyroid function, including severe diarrhea, fatigue, lethargy, and, yes, extreme weight loss.
Bauer BA, et al. Symptomatic Hyperthyroidism in a Patient Taking the Dietary Supplement Tiratricol. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 77:587-590. 2002. http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/
American Thyroid Association. ATA Supports FDA Warning on Triax. February 2000. http://www.thyroid.org/professionals/publications/statements/00_02_26_triax.html
Food and Drug Administration. FDA Warns Against Consuming Triax Metabolic Accelerator. November 1999. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tptriax.html