How Does CONTRAVE® Work?

You may have seen TV ads for CONTRAVE or read a bit about it online, but do you understand how CONTRAVE works?

Before looking at how this medication works, it’s important to answer the question, “What does CONTRAVE do?” CONTRAVE is an FDA-approved weight loss medication that may be prescribed to people who a.) have a body mass index of 30 or higher or b.) have a body mass index of 27 to 29.9 and have another weight-related health condition. It’s used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise to help patients reach and maintain a healthy weight.

CONTRAVE contains two active ingredients: bupropion HCl and naltrexone HCl. Bupropion and naltrexone are well-researched and are both individually used to treat addiction-related conditions. While the mechanism of action for CONTRAVE is not fully understood, it is believed that bupropion and naltrexone work together to reduce hunger and curb food cravings.

CONTRAVE Weight Loss

How CONTRAVE Reduces Hunger

CONTRAVE acts on the hypothalamus: the hunger center of the brain. Bupropion stimulates POMC neurons in the hypothalamus, which cause you to feel satiated (full). The hypothalamus has a negative feedback loop that normally stops POMC activity at a certain point, which could lead to you feeling like you need to eat again just an hour or two after a snack or meal. However, naltrexone helps keep POMC neurons active so that you don’t feel uncontrollably hungry between meals.

How CONTRAVE Controls Cravings

CONTRAVE's mechanism of action isn’t limited to the hypothalamus; this medication is also believed to affect the mesolimbic reward system of the brain.

Eating or even thinking about high-calorie foods can trigger neurotransmitters such as dopamine within the mesolimbic reward system, which causes us to experience pleasure. Our brains seek to repeat pleasurable experiences, which is why you may find yourself experiencing intense food cravings while on a reduced-calorie diet.

Naltrexone and bupropion are believed to work together to regulate neurotransmitters in the mesolimbic reward system, and this mechanism of action allows CONTRAVE to curb cravings.

What Is the Process for Getting CONTRAVE?

If you understand how CONTRAVE works, your next question may be, “How do I get CONTRAVE to start working for me?”  

You can order CONTRAVE through Diet Doc, but you’ll need a prescription first. Fortunately, Diet Doc has a team of doctors who can help you customize a weight loss plan and prescribe medications when appropriate. Fill out our online form by clicking the link below to schedule a phone or Skype consultation and find out more about how CONTRAVE works.

Please see Important Safety Information and Full Prescribing Information, including boxed warning at

CONTRAVE® is a registered trademark of Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Join the 55,000 Diet Doc patients who met their weight loss goals by signing up for your CONTRAVE consultation today.