For some people, gaining weight can be difficult.

Despite trying to eat more calories, a lack of appetite prevents them from reaching their goals.

Some turn to weight gain supplements, such as Apetamin. It's an increasingly popular vitamin syrup that’s claimed to help you gain weight by increasing your appetite.

However, it’s not available in health stores or on reputable websites in the United States, making it difficult to purchase. This may make you wonder whether it’s safe and legal.

This article reviews Apetamin, including its uses, legality, and side effects.

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Apetamin is a vitamin syrup that’s marketed as a weight gain supplement. It was developed by TIL Healthcare PVT, a pharmaceutical company based in India.

According to manufacturing labels, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Apetamin syrup contains:

  • Cyproheptadine hydrochloride: 2 mg
  • L-lysine hydrochloride: 150 mg
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) hydrochloride: 1 mg
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) hydrochloride: 2 mg
  • Nicotinamide (vitamin B3): 15 mg
  • Dexpanthenol (an alternative form of vitamin B5): 4.5 mg

The combination of lysine, vitamins, and cyproheptadine is claimed to aid weight gain, though only the last one has been shown to potentially increase appetite as a side effect (1, 2).

However, cyproheptadine hydrochloride is mainly used as an antihistamine, a type of drug that eases allergy symptoms like runny nose, itching, hives, and watery eyes by blocking histamine, a substance your body makes when it has an allergic reaction (3).

Apetamin is available in syrup and tablet form. The syrup generally contains vitamins and lysine, whereas the tablets only include cyproheptadine hydrochloride.

The supplement is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety and effectiveness concerns, and it’s illegal to sell it in the United States and many other countries (4).

Nevertheless, some small websites continue to sell Apetamin illegally.

Summary Apetamin is marketed as a supplement that helps you gain weight by increasing your appetite.

Apetamin may promote weight gain because it contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, a powerful antihistamine whose side effects include increased appetite.

Though it’s unclear how this substance increases appetite, several theories exist.

First, cyproheptadine hydrochloride appears to increase levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in underweight children. IGF-1 is a type of hormone linked to weight gain (5).

In addition, it seems to act on the hypothalamus, a small section of your brain that regulates appetite, food intake, hormones, and many other biological functions (6).

Still, more studies are needed to understand how cyproheptadine hydrochloride may increase appetite and lead to weight gain.

In addition, Apetamin syrup contains the amino acid l-lysine, which has been linked to increased appetite in animal studies. Nevertheless, human studies are needed (7).

Is it effective for weight gain?

Though research on Apetamin and weight gain is lacking, several studies found that cyproheptadine hydrochloride, its main ingredient, may aid weight gain in people who have lost their appetite and are at risk of malnutrition.

Additionally, a 12-week study in 16 children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis (a genetic disorder that may feature a loss of appetite) noted that taking cyproheptadine hydrochloride daily led to significant increases in weight, compared to a placebo (1).

A review of 46 studies in people with varying conditions observed that the substance was well tolerated and helped underweight individuals gain weight. However, it did not help people with progressive diseases, such as HIV and cancer (8).

While cyproheptadine may benefit those at risk of malnutrition, it could lead to excessive weight gain in overweight people or those with a healthy weight.

For example, a study in 499 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo revealed that 73% of participants were misusing cyproheptadine and at risk of obesity (9).

In short, while cyproheptadine hydrochloride may help underweight people gain weight, it may put the average person at risk of obesity, which is a significant problem worldwide.

Summary Apetamin contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, which may increase appetite as a side effect. In theory, it may do so by raising levels of IGF-1 and acting on the area of your brain that controls appetite and food intake.

Selling Apetamin is illegal in many countries, including the United States.

That’s because it contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, an antihistamine that is only available with a prescription in the United States due to safety concerns. Misusing this substance may cause serious outcomes, such as liver failure and death (9, 10).

In addition, Apetamin is not approved or regulated by the FDA, which means that Apetamin products may not truly contain what is listed on the label (11, 12).

The FDA has issued seizure notices and warnings on importing Apetamin and other vitamin syrups containing cyproheptadine due to safety and effectiveness concerns (4).

Summary The sale of Apetamin is banned in many countries, including the United States, as it contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, a prescription-only medication.

Apetamin has many safety concerns and is illegal in many countries, which is why reputable stores in the United States don’t sell it.

Still, people manage to get their hands on illegally imported Apetamin through small websites, classified listings, and social media outlets.

A major concern is that it contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, a prescription-only medication that has been linked to various side effects, including (9):

  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • tremors
  • irritability
  • blurred vision
  • nausea and diarrhea
  • liver toxicity and failure

In addition, it can interact with alcohol, grapefruit juice, and many drugs, including antidepressants, Parkinson’s disease medications, and other antihistamines (3).

Because Apetamin is imported illegally into the United States, it’s not regulated by the FDA. Thus, it may contain different types or amounts of ingredients than listed on the label (12).

Considering its illegal status in the United States and other countries, as well as its adverse effects, you should avoid trying this supplement.

Instead, speak with your healthcare provider to determine the safest and most effective treatment option if you have trouble gaining weight or a medical condition that reduces your appetite.

Summary Apetamin is illegal in the United States and many other countries. Plus, its main ingredient, cyproheptadine hydrochloride, has been linked to serious side effects and is only available with a prescription.

Apetamin is a vitamin syrup that’s claimed to aid weight gain.

It contains cyproheptadine hydrochloride, a prescription-only antihistamine that may increase appetite.

It’s illegal to sell Apetamin in the United States and elsewhere. Plus, the FDA does not regulate it and has issued seizure notices and import warnings.

If you’re looking to gain weight, speak to a dietitian and your healthcare provider to develop a safe and effective plan tailored to your needs, rather than relying on illegal supplements.