THIS week's community column comes from health writer Lucy Dunn.

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INSTAGRAM accounts encouraging dangerous drug sales have been criticised by NHS England after “weight gain” drugs began doing the rounds online. Supposedly helpful if you’re wanting a grow-your-own “extreme hourglass” figure, the appetite stimulant may leave you with organ failure and fatigue instead.

The “InstaPharmacy” trend isn’t new: before this, appetite suppressants and laxatives disguised as slimming teas were being promoted to vulnerable people as “health pills” and “detox drinks”, and in other corners of the internet, the medication market thrives.

Not only will online drugs funnel money from your bank account, many internet meds are unlicensed, sold by non-medical business owners, and won’t warn you of the myriad of side effects that come mixed into the concoctions.

Can we ever trust internet pharmacies? Perhaps if you just do your reading, you can tell the good from the bad?

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Unfortunately, medication isn’t that simple - for a variety of reasons. Many of these drugs will promise to fulfil one task, e.g. weight loss, but can simultaneously affect other parts of your body, causing problems for your heart or other vital organs. If you are already on prescription medication, taking something else without consulting your GP can mean one of the meds may not work properly.

If you have underlying medical conditions, some drugs may alter certain levels of metabolites in your blood, causing you more damage. Some people may find that they experience allergies or unpleasant interactions to certain drugs – from itchy rashes to full-blown toxic epidermal necrolysis, a life-threatening condition that affects your skin, eyes, and mouth, and which requires urgent hospitalisation.

The power of these medications may sound unreal at first glance, but that’s because many of their advertised effects are. Whether steroids, diet pills or study drugs, the pay-off in reality is never worth the health cost.

If you are concerned about your health then speak to your GP about what they would advise - and maybe medication isn’t the best way forward at all.