Derived from the simple lichen, usnic acid is advertised as an “uncoupling agent.” Basically, what this means is that usnic acid ramps up and enables the “energy creation” processes in the cell, which manifests itself as heat and consequentially, an increase in the metabolic rate. While there is a small amount of preliminary animal-based data to support this, to date no human evidence exists.
Worse, anecdotal reports indicate usnic acid may well be highly toxic to the liver. Animal studies (J Ethnopharm 2004;90:381-7) already demonstrate usnic acid’s toxic effect.
One study (see Ann Intern Med. 2002 Apr 16;136(8):590-5) investigated the possible link between the usnic-acid-based fat burner called LipoKinetix and the hepatoxicity displayed by 7 of its users. It concluded…
“The use of LipoKinetix may be associated with hepatoxicity. Despite extensive evaluations, no other cause for hepatoxicity could be identified in the seven patients studied.”