The Right Way to Use HCG For Weight Loss (Not the HCG Diet)

This guide is part 2 in a series I am writing about how to properly and effectively use weight loss medications (including dosing, duration of therapy and titration). Part 1 contains information and dosing on Victoza which you can read about here

HCG is often misused and misunderstood by patients, especially when it comes to weight loss. 

HCG can be used as part of a weight loss regimen to help you lose weight, but it's almost always coupled with a very low-calorie diet which can actually be harmful to your metabolism long-term. 

Learn how to use HCG in this guide: 

*Note: Information in this article should not be considered medical advice nor can I offer medical advice to you. This information is provided as an educational resource.

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HCG the Hormone vs The HCG Diet

It's important that we set the record straight on the difference between HCG the hormone and the HCG Diet. 

HCG is actually just a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin. 

It is naturally secreted in high amounts during pregnancy. 

In fact, the amounts that pregnant women are subjected to is much higher than any dose that most people use for weight loss (including in the HCG diet). 

HCG the hormone itself has some special properties (1) (which we will discuss below) that make it a valuable tool when and if you are trying to lose weight. 

normal HCG levels in both men and women over time

The problem that HCG gets a bad name because the name itself is often associated with the HCG diet. 

Which is why we need to spend some time to separate these two ideas. 

I'm sure you are familiar with the HCG diet, but if you aren't I would read this post which outlines in more detail why it is often harmful

The HCG diet is a combination of a sustained very low-calorie diet which is coupled with HCG injections (or drops) throughout the weight loss phase. 

The problem with the HCG diet is the duration of the calorie restriction, NOT the HCG hormone itself. 

The prolonged calorie restriction in the HCG diet often causes metabolic damage and thyroid changes which almost always result in regaining any weight that was lost during the diet. 

Despite this known side effect many people still decide to use the HCG diet, presumably for the temporary weight loss that results. 

The problem is that each time you do the HCG diet you damage your metabolism more and more. 

So the first time you use the HCG diet you may lose 20+ pounds, the second time you may only lose 5-10 and the third you may not lose any at all

Each consecutive time you use it you will see your results diminish. 

And this process occurs because of the calorie restriction. 

This side effect is NOT from the HCG shots or injections!

You could couple a 500 calorie diet with any hormone (such as testosterone, progesterone or thyroid hormone) and you would end up in the same place. 

But don't make the mistake of blaming HCG on the damage to your metabolism when it's the fault of the calorie restriction. 

If this concept is new to you, or it doesn't make sense I would encourage you to read this article which outlines more information on how calories influence your weight and how to determine if you are eating enough

It's important to realize that HCG is simply a hormone and because it is a hormone it has special benefits that we can utilize. 

And if we combine HCG with proper dietary therapies, supplements, weight loss medications and so on we can actually gain all of the benefits from HCG without any of the downsides. 

So let's talk about some of the benefits: 

Benefits of using HCG for Weight Loss

Like any hormone or medication, there are potential side effects and benefits you should consider when using it. 

It's helpful to erase in your mind how you currently think about HCG and start over with a blank slate. 

In this slate I want you to simply think about HCG as a potential weight loss hormone that, if used correctly, can be added to various different diets and therapies

Once you've changed how you think about HCG a new world of opportunities and possibilities are available to you. 

HCG can now be combined with other weight loss therapies such as Victoza, LDN and so on. 

It can be combined with ANY diet including the ketogenic diet, the AIP diet and so on. 

It can complement certain supplements that also augment weight loss such as fish oil, berberine, CLA, and alpha lipoic acid

Suddenly HCG becomes a helpful tool that you can use on your journey to weight loss. 

But how does HCG Work? How does it help with weight loss?

It can actually help in several ways...

Potential positive benefits of using HCG: 

  • May help regulate sex hormone levels such as estrogen and progesterone (2) - Some women have excess levels of sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone which can make weight loss difficult. 
  • May help regulate appetite suppression - Normalizing appetite levels is important when considering caloric consumption. Eating a sufficient amount is required for proper metabolism but some hormone disorders can cause excessive hunger and/or cravings for certain foods which may retard weight loss efforts. 
  • May help increase testosterone (especially in men) (3) - HCG may stimulate and promote normal testosterone levels which can become dysregulated by other hormone imbalances such as insulin resistance. 
  • May support thyroid function (4) - HCG has been shown to stimulate thyroid function in pregnant women and this effect may be part of the reason that HCG is effective as a dietary aid in some diets. 

Because HCG is a hormone it also may have negative side effects that can pop up based on dosing or the sensitivity of the individual. 

Potential side effects of using HCG: 

  • Water retention - Reversible and usually related to dosing
  • Headaches - Often fade over time
  • Irritability - Subsides over time
  • Weight gain - Rare but can happen occasionally and if it does occur it is a reason to discontinue the hormone

HCG is usually very well tolerated and most people do not experience negative side effects. 

But some people may experience these side effects and it may be an indication that they are using too much. 

If you experience side effects they can usually be eliminated by simply reducing your dose. 

The goal is to use the least amount of hormone possible for the largest amount of benefit. 

Hormone therapies often suffer from a concept known as diminishing returns. 

Diminishing returns is the idea that a given therapy will diminish in value with increasing dose. 

So if 100 IU's works for you it doesn't mean that 200 IU's will work twice as well or that 400 IU's will work 4x as well

HCG for Women

HCG is often very helpful for certain women who are trying to lose weight. 

Much of this benefit may stem from HCG and its ability to help regulate estrogen and progesterone levels. 

The imbalance of estrogen to progesterone may be responsible, at least in part, for weight gain in certain areas of the body (think breasts, butt, thighs and so on). 

This distribution of fat differs from other hormone imbalances such as insulin resistance which tends to promote weight gain in the abdominal cavity or surrounding the organs (so-called visceral fat) (5).

The problem with fat mediated by estrogen and progesterone is that it can be very difficult to treat and typically doesn't respond to conventional exercise and diet routines. 

thyroid metabolism reset poster for side bar

Even if these women tend to lose weight, if they don't improve their estrogen/progesterone balance they may end up with an abnormal fat distribution such as very little fat on the abdomen but excess fat on the arms/thighs and so on. 

Women who fit this category may benefit from the episodic use of HCG as a complementary therapy to other weight loss therapies. 

I've included a list of potential patients who may benefit more than others from the use of HCG based on my own personal experience and based on various clinical studies. 

Which women should consider using HCG? 

Whenever you can individualize weight loss therapies such as weight loss medication the results tend to be much better than a blanket or one-size-fits-all regimen. 

But even when following these guidelines HCG may only promote weight loss in up to 70% of individuals who use it. 

HCG for Men

HCG also has many benefits for men and may be the reason that men do so well on the conventional HCG diet when compared to women. 

HCG looks similar to another hormone known as LH or luteinizing hormone (7).

Because HCG looks similar to LH (at least to cellular receptors) it may sit on and activate LH receptors and lead to a normalization or natural boost to testosterone levels in men. 

Because testosterone is so important (for both men and women, but especially in men) at promoting the male physique (8) the use of HCG may stimulate weight loss in men through this mechanism alone. 

HCG should also be considered an integral part of normal testosterone replacement therapy which should include bio-identical testosterone, HCG to retard testicular atrophy and an estrogen blocker. 

For this reason, men tend to benefit greatly from the periodic use of HCG especially during weight loss. 

It should be noted, though, that HCG should not be used in place of testosterone or for extended periods of time. 

HCG Dosing & How to Use it

Part of realizing the weight loss benefits of HCG is ensuring that you use it correctly. 

The "standard" way of using HCG is to combine it with a calorie restricted diet and to use it daily. 

It may be better to use smaller doses less frequently and combined with other therapies which also aid in weight loss. 

Using it in this way promotes more sustained weight loss and limits any potential negative side effects associated with the hormone. 

Below I've outlined some guidelines that can be considered when using HCG. 

HCG Dosing instructions:

  • Use only up to a maximum of 250 IU's and use them on intermittent fasting days (you can read more about my recommended usage of HCG in my weight loss guide here)
  • Use ONLY HCG injections (avoid HCG drops because they don't work)
  • Use a maximum of 3 injections per week (average of 2 injections per week works best for most people)
  • Use during weight loss phase only (you shouldn't continue using HCG if it isn't working)
  • Use only for a maximum of 2-3 months before taking a break (at least 1 month off) - from there you can cycle use
  • Stop using HCG when you reach your target goal
  • Use in the morning on the day that you decide to use it

Combining HCG with other Medications & Therapies

Whenever we talk about a weight loss medication or therapy we should always discuss how potent or how efficacious that therapy actually is. 

It's one thing to say that a medication or hormone is effective at weight loss, but it's more important to understand just how effective it is. 

For instance:

Would you be more interested in a weight loss therapy that worked 90% of the time but only helped you lose 1-2 pounds or would you be more interested in a weight loss therapy that worked 60% of the time but helped you lose 15-20 pounds? 

The truth is that not all weight loss therapies will work for all people, and even if they do work in some people the efficacy will vary from person to person. 

So 10 people could use the same therapy and experience various degrees of weight loss despite using it in the exact same way. 

This doesn't mean that the therapy is flawed, but it does mean that you should do your best to personalize your regimen. 

HCG is more useful as a side therapy for weight loss that should be combined with more powerful weight loss medications such as Victoza and Liothyronine. 

In this way, it's not the most powerful weight loss medications but it can often help boost weight loss results by 5-15 pounds (depending on the person). 

Final Thoughts

HCG is a hormone which may help to promote other hormone functions in both men and women. 

It gets a bad name because of its association with the HCG diet, but after reading this hopefully, you can make a distinction between HCG the hormone and the HCG diet. 

HCG the hormone is beneficial when used correctly, and the HCG is almost always harmful. 

If you are considering using HCG make sure that you obtain a written prescription from a physician and make sure that you personalize dosing to your body. 

It should be noted that proper use of HCG (as discussed here) should NOT result in any harm or long-term damage to your metabolism

But now I want to hear from you:

Have you used HCG successfully in the past?

Did the HCG diet harm your metabolism?

Have you used HCG in the way that I've described here? 

Leave your comments below! 

If you have other questions or comments about using HCG in this way please leave them below and I will do my best to answer them.

References (Click to Expand)

This post was most recently updated on March 1st, 2019

Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders.He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances.You can read more about his own personal journey here.

36 thoughts on “The Right Way to Use HCG For Weight Loss (Not the HCG Diet)”

  1. I have been taking HCG 500 Mg sublingual, 1gram of anastrozole and .5 mls of test weekly for 5 weeks. I feel good but have lost 12 lbs.I also have been on 175 mcg of synthroid for hypo thyroid for years.lfeel good but don’t want to loose all the weight. What should I look for in my labs to tell me next steps. Should I just drop the HCG. I TOOK JUST TEST AT .5 for a year before with no weight loss. Should I just stop the HCG?
    Thanks. Mam

  2. Hi Dr. Childs. I’ve just started the Optavia program and wanted to add the hcg injections to help with the weight loss. Would you consider this a good idea with that program?

  3. I have done 4 rounds of HCG with every round being fewer results just like you described… my rounds were over 2 yrs ago. I am now doing keto 35 days and only at a 1.5lb loss.. so you can imagine my frustration! My physician says my thyroid is in the ‘normal’ range but I know something isn’t right! I’m at a loss… I ordered more HCG after reading this article doses only twice a week 150iu. ANY SUGGESTIONS ADVISE or for me?????

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      You’ll want to make sure that you don’t restrict your calories or you will end up with a severely damaged metabolism. You should also evaluate other hormones such as leptin, insulin, cortisol in addition to a complete thyroid panel. This should get you started on the right track!

  4. Good morning, Dr. Childs. I am currently on a doctor supervised HCG weight loss program in which I am injecting 200mcg HCG every morning for three weeks. This is in conjunction with a diet that excludes all fat and includes lean protein, vegetables and fruit (with no limit on carbs from said fruit). My daily calorie goal was set for 1900, based on my BMR and I’m told to eat 6 small meals per day. This program is working, but I am very interested in experimenting a bit. I’d like to try incorporating a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. Do you recommend this? The original diet/belief has always emphasized low fat while on HCG, but I’d like to challenge that. And you’re the first person I’ve stumbled across who has mentioned intermittent fasting, which I am also a fan of. I am a 35 year old female, 5’7”, 253lbs, NKA/NKDA, regular periods, no current known health problems or complaints. Any time, energy and advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated!!! 🙂

    • Hi Kristie,

      Some people do have success with the diets you mentioned but it has more to do with the individual than the diet. Some people respond better to high-fat diets compared to moderate carb/fat diets and so on.

  5. I just got off the keto diet after 2 months I lost 10 lbs. I am now starting the HCG injections. Can I do saxenda at the same time?

  6. Hello. I too have completed multiple rounds (6-8) of HCG over the last 8 years. With the last round being about 18 months ago. I have always lost with it and been able to keep it off doing a 24 hour fast once a week, but once I stray from that for a few weeks it doesn’t seem to work any longer. I have steadily gained weight over the last six months and am ready for another round after zero results (10 pound gain actually) with 20:4 intermittent fasting. While I enjoy the lifestyle of intermittent fasting, I am still gaining. You recommend the use of HCG combined with intermittent fasting, but your suggestions leave much room for confusion. Would the HCG be taken on the intermittent fasting days? How long of an intermittent fast are you talking about? Also, on the non-fasting days, is it suggested to not have any type of calorie deficit? Is it still possible to get 2-3 pounds a week like this? I would be fine with that so long as I am seeing the scale trend downward instead of upward. Mind you, I am just about back to my highest weight of 217, currently weighing in at 193. 5’4 and 37 years old.

  7. Hi Dr. Childs, What is your opinion on using HCG for fat loss alone? I am fortunate that I am at a very healthy weight, but my body fat % has increased dramatically during menopause, in spite of a very healthy lifestyle. The increase in fat is in my upper arms and thighs and accumulates on top of strong muscles. Would HCG be a candidate for me since I don’t really need to lose weight or wish to go on a restrictive diet? thank you so much.

    • Hi Julie,

      Hcg doesn’t work as well for menopausal women but it can still be considered. I wouldn’t use as a standalone therapy but it could be combined with other therapies, I find that it is more effective in menstruating women.

  8. I just started hcg yesterday and I have been on victoza for 5 plus years max dose once a day. Type 2 diabetic, high blood pressure, triglycerides high, novolog as needed, my labs are always flagged every three months for several things,also take metformin and hormone replacement meds. With all that said, I understand how the diet part gets bad reviews but it is a lifestyle change when you finish and if that does not change then you are back at square one. I’ve decided to do this diet one last time but increase from 30 days to 80 just to see what the results will be. What do you think?

  9. Hi Westin!
    I am so glad I stumbled across your page. I had to have a complete hysterectomy at 31 and can take zero hormone replacement. HCG worked well last time I was on the diet. I can see your view with damaging metabolism and more. I believe I was put on Saxenda in between my rounds but got pancreatitis. Not fun. So I am about to start the journey again but I saw where you said it does not work on menopausal women so before I spend a fortune again can you guide me on the right path?

  10. Hi,

    I am a 61-year postmenopausal woman. I’m not obese but I have struggled to lose 10-20 lbs. literally since my 11 year old was born. I was diagnosed with a sluggish thyroid years ago after my first child. He’s 29. I have been on Naturoid for approx.12 years. I have my T3 and T4 checked regularly. I am also on an HRT program – a shot with estradiol/estrogen and testosterone monthly. I take progesterone orally each day. I see the doctor once a month and do blood work frequently. I have done the HCG diet several times but modified from the starvation mode. More like 800-1000 cals and other restrictions. It always works but I always gain it back. I’m thinking about doing again. I work out with a trainer twice a week and take a dance class twice a week. I’m only a social drinker and I’m pretty savvy about nutrition. I did a food sensitivity test and now I am on their elimination protocol for a while. I’m thinking about the using HCG maybe your way but wonder if I’ve got too much going on. Can you advise me?

  11. Hello Dr. Childs. I am on day 3 of the HCG diet. I get a hormone pellet every 3-4 months. Just wondering if this is ok. I just turned 50, take med for thyroid and had a partial hysterectomy in 2016. Thanks for your time!

  12. 2 years ago I lost 10kg on hcg (injections and hCG diet) and maintained that weight for over a year. Over the next year, I have put back on the weight. I really want to get it off again. What is the protocol for using Saxenda and Hcg together? How do I explain this to my doctor? My thyroid levels are always normal but I am unsure of the exact panel. What should be asking for?

  13. Hello Westin,

    I currently have HCG injections. I stopped taking them a little over 5 days ago due to spotting and cramping and then an unscheduled period. I was loosely following the diet for a little over a week when this started. I say loosely because I was eating closer to 800 cals than 500. I don’t want to waste my money as I still have 12 injections in the fridge and 7 more I haven’t picked up. I want to follow your guide of a max of 3 injections a week, I was also thinking of upping my calorie intake to 1200 with occasional exercise. The injections are 200 IU’s. Should I only do two injections a week? I just want the cramping and spotting to stop and don’t want any more surprise periods that break through my birth control pill. Do you have any suggestions?

  14. Hi Dr. Child’s,

    So awesome of you to take the time to share – thank you.

    For those of us who have already made the mistake of going through multiple HCG/very restricted calorie diet rounds, and can no longer lose weight despite doing all the right things, and are fairly certain we have unfortunately caused significant damage to our metabolism…what can we do to begin to repair our bodies in order to find healthy weight loss? Profile being 38 yo, current weight 180, healthy target weight 165, normal thyroid, exercises 3-5x per week. So, so afraid I’ve messed myself up for good. Uggh!

  15. I was on HCG in 2013 and lost 30 pounds. I had massive weight gain after a hysterectomy. I kept the wight off until recently when my thyroid was misdiagnosed for the correct medication. I saw a doctor, endocrinologist and their poor ways of evaluating with a simple blood test that showed nothing was wrong. LOL My naturopath did a very thorough blood test and found I was anemic, had adrenal issues and my T3 was not at a normal level. I had gained 35 pounds and was so frustrated. She has me on some great supplements and WP thyroid and suggested medical HCG – I have lost 13 pounds in 14 days. Phase 3 of this diet is what makes it work. Maintenance of 3 weeks after finishing the injections is key to resetting. It is a lifelong way of eating clean after losing the weight. It should not be used every time someone needs to lose a few pounds. Thanks for all your information about HCG.

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for sharing! I would, however, be very cautious about repeating the hCG diet, especially with existing thyroid problems, as you may gain all of the weight you just lost over the next 6 months or so. Calorie restriction is known to increase reverse T3 and lower both free t3 and total T3 which is a bad combination for those with existing thyroid disease. I’ve seen a number of patients present with thyroid problems AFTER undergoing the hCG diet as well.

  16. Hello Sir
    HCG injections and unintended weight loss

    I was given HCG in 250 every other day, 3 months for hypogonadism.
    It didn’t improve that problem but over six months led to severe weight loss, the actual loss of subcutaneous fat from arms, hips, legs, and face.

    My clothes don’t fit me. And I look depleted.
    Its been 2 years now.
    It has changed my body shape and I don’t like it.

    It appears no matter what I do I just don’t gain fat under my skin.

    Is there any way it can be reversed?
    Thanks a lot
    PS: Total T and free T remain low around the lowest lab value.

    • Are HCG shots, taken correctly as per your guidelines – safe and effective (for weight loss), for someone who’s been diagnosed with Insulin Resistance?

  17. [email protected]
    Hello!
    I am hypothyroid and did the HCG diet in 2011. I am 5’6.5” tall and started out at135lbs in 2 weeks I got down to 117lbs. I had to stop the diet but I continued taking the HCG nasal spray until the 21 days were up. During that 21 days I stopped taking my thyroid medication and adderall. I was completely symptom free and actually had eyebrows! It is the only time that I have felt really good and asymptomatic. I have been wanting to try to take hcg spray again because of how great I felt when I was taking it. I have been on thyroid medication for over 20 years and have remained symptomatic. My main bothersome symptom is bloating/ fluid retention and hair texture issues. I feel that the adderall masks a lot of the hypothyroid symptoms. Also due to my age 47 I have other hormonal issues. My testosterone is always low in spite of taking bhrt testosterone cream daily. I have tried taking progesterone along with estrogen and I get really bloated and puffy. Do you think the HCG could help to balance my hormones?

  18. About 2 years ago, I started gaining weight unintentionally & with no changes to my diet. I gained about 100lbs even under my doctor’s supervision & going through long rounds of diet & exercise changes. Nothing helped. I never lost any weight, only continually gained. Then, I started having problems breathing & swallowing. Turns out I had a thyroid goiter. My thyroid was removed almost immediately. Testing found that I had both papillary & follicular cancer in that thyroid & went through 2 rounds of radiation. My thyroid levels are now controlled with Levothyroxine at .224 mcg/day. I also have PCOS with Insulin Resistance. Since getting my levels under control, I have been intermittent fasting on a low-calorie keto diet with the help of a personal trainer doing HIIT. Guess what? No weight loss, I only continue to gain. I’m now over 300lbs & worried that I’ll be immobile in a couple of years if I don’t find some way to reverse it. I mean, I fasted for 14 days & still gained weight! My doctor is stumped. I stopped taking everything my doctor had prescribed for weight loss (except my Levothyroxine & Metformin for the insulin resistance) because I had basically given up. But then, Last Monday, while at my chiropractor’s office, I saw an advertisement for the HCG diet. I figured, what the hell? I started last Monday & today I am 14lb lighter. Nothing has ever worked until this. I plan on going through the entire regimen to see how much I can lose & if the long-term diet plan is sustainable. I have been watching the HCGChic on Youtube, who did the diet 8 years ago & is still maintaining the ideal weight she reached & I’m hopeful. Now, my major problem with all of this is that I am a vegetarian. Have been for over 18 years. But now it’s come down to my health vs my diet. I’ve been eating meat for a week because my HCG provider says they’ve never encountered anyone who didn’t eat meat & didn’t know what to tell me to substitute. The meat tastes awful & has changed my digestion. I basically poop black water now (and when I need to go, it’s urgent). But, I’ve lost 14lbs in a week after years of only gaining. I’m so conflicted. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Renee,

      I would proceed with caution doing any diet which results in 14 pounds of weight loss in a one-week time frame. These types of diet will only cause more harm to your metabolism and weight gain in the future. I understand that you feel desperation but this is not the best way to approach weight management.

  19. I’m so confused with all the conflicting information. I had a thyroidectomy 2 years ago and despite all the increases in cytolmel (now at 40 mcg) and decrease in synthroid (from 75 to 50 mcg) my levels won’t increase. My doctor put me in the HCG diet (200 iu daily with 700 calories per day) hoping to shock and reset my metabolism. I’m 40, 5’7” and 135 lbs. Before my thyroid was removed I was about 115-120 lbs and I just want to fit my clothes again. If I only do the HCG diet for 15-20 days will it be less harmful or am I fooling myself if I think the weight loss will stay gone once I’m finished?

    • Hi Lauren,

      I understand the information can certainly be confusing. All of the information you find on my site should not conflict but you will find that I may disagree with other people. You have to remember that there’s just too much information out there for someone to be an expert in all fields. I spend almost all of my time on weight management and thyroid function and these are two areas that I feel very confident about. In addition, some therapies are more lucrative for the doctor so they will always endorse them over others.

      If you don’t want to trust my opinion then I would encourage you to look at the clinical studies which show that 99% of the time calorie restriction simply fails and the reason for that is due to metabolic adaptation. The chances of you losing weight and keeping it off by doing the hCG diet are about 1%.

      Articles like this explain the process in detail: https://www.restartmed.com/gaining-weight-to-lose-weight/

  20. Thank you for your article.

    I was a dancer/choreographer all my life and was size 6/8 and around 130 lbs at most. After I was disgraced with Vascular Ehlers Danlos and MS, I quickly gained over fifty pounds and am in chronic pain. My first round of HCG injections I lost approximately 30 pounds. But by my third attempt I’m actually gaining weight. I’m so depressed, I avoid going out (vanity and embarrassment that I now walk with forearm crutches). I just turned fifty and have been battling this for over three years. I miss myself and my doctors just seem to think “well… you’re getting older so…”

    I need advice badly. I’m even considering cancelling a trip to see my best friend because I am so humiliated I cannot conquer this. Exercise is hard with MS and I miss being active. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Nic

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