In addition to changing their life styles many people turn to herbal supplements and herbs to aid their weight loss. There are various ways by which these herbal supplements and herbs are thought to work for weight loss and those include adding bulk to the diet, increasing metabolism and increasing fat burning, nutritionally rich preparations and mood enhancement.
For many people, the effects of stress, overwork, exhaustion and lifestyle lead to weight gain. In 2002, sixty-one percent of adult Americans were overweight and twenty-six percent of this group was obese. Eating too much, eating the wrong kinds of food for us and eating away from the home add to this and obesity has become one of the biggest health concerns we now face in Western Society.
Dieting and binge eating can play havoc with our metabolism and lead to further weight gains, making the prospect of losing weight harder to achieve. If you want to lose weight with herbs and herbal supplements, consider a balanced preparation that also has a quality B complex to boost your energy levels.
Natural Herbs Used for Weight Loss
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium).
This herb for weight loss works in much the same manner as ephedra, both contain beta antagonists which are known to cause body fat loss also to increase metabolism in those who are combining exercise and dietary measures to lose weight. Specific studies investigating the herb bitter orange are to date fairly small and not yet conclusive regarding the benefit of this herbal medicine for weight loss. Bitter orange should be used with caution if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. The rind of the immature fruit is also used in Chinese Medicine to aid digestion, it is known as Zhi Quao or Zhi Shi.
Cayenne (Capsicum minimum, Capsicum annuum, C. frutescens)
Reputed to aid weight loss based on the principle of the heat of the plant matter.
Hoodia gordonii (Hoodia gordonii)
This medicinal herb is a succulent from the deserts of southern Africa. The San Bushmen have traditionally used this plant which they called Xhoba as an appetite suppressant when on long journeys. Hoodia has become the number one herb for appetite suppression in the United States. The active constituent in this herb is called P57, while there are many varieties of Hoodia, only Hoodia gordonii has P57. The exact biological pathway that P57 works on it still being understood, however, what is known about this steroidal glycoside is that it works on the brain to suppress appetite. Hoodia also enhances weight loss by lowering blood glucose, which lowers the insulin circulating in the blood, which in turn reduces fat storage. Hoodia has not shown to have significant side effects and looks set to become a major treatment in weight control.
Coleus (Coleus forskohlii).
Coleus works to assist weight loss by breaking down fat deposits and preventing production of adipose tissue. Coleus also mildly stimulates the metabolism by increasing thyroid function. A diterpenoid called forskolin is the active constituent of this herb and is the only plant derived compound known to directly stimulate the enzyme, adenlylate cyclase, and in turn, stimulates cellular cyclic AMP which boosts metabolism to assist weight loss.
Ephedra (Ma huang) (Ephedra sinica)
Clinical trials have shown benefit in weight loss but there are major safety concerns with this herb.
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
Green Tea contains caffeine and is reputed to aid weight loss amongst other health claims. It is also a rich source of antioxidants.
Guarana ( Paullinia cupana)
It has a reputation to aid weight loss via increased metabolism. It is thought to work in a similar way to caffeine.
Guggul (Commiphora mukul)
Guggul is thought to affect metabolism, possibly reduce cholesterol levels and therefore may aid weight loss.
Guar gum (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus)
A plant-based dietary fiber derived from the bean of the plant.
Garcina Cambogia (Garcina cambogia).
This popular weight loss herb has been traditionally used in South East Asia to make meals more filling. Its active constituent is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) Its role as a herb for weight loss is that it suppresses appetite and reduces the body’s ability to form adipose(fatty) tissue due to overeating. It is thought Garcinia’s weight loss action works by inhibiting the body’s ability to convert carbohydrates to fats. This same mechanism floods the liver with glycogen which leads the brain to respond by suppressing appetite. Another significant study, using an animal model, found that during exercise the regular use of HCA promotes fat burning. Contra indications for garcina cambogia are: pregnancy, diabetes and people with dementia syndromes. This herb does interact with some prescription medicines and this should be discussed with your health care practitioner before use.
Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
Yerba Mate herb is from Paraguay, South America reputed to increase metabolism.
Spirulina (Blue-Green Algae)
Spirulina is thought to be useful in weight-control diets because its high nutritional value helps to satisfy hunger.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Known to lift mood and therefore may indirectly help weight loss.
Other natural herbs that have been used for weight loss.
- Marshmallow Root – (Althea officinalis)
- Carob – (Ceratonia siliqua)
- Cinchona – (Cinchona officinalis)
- Chinese Rhubarb – (Rheum officinale)
- Rock Samphire – (Crithmum maritimum)
The Use of Medicinal Herb for Weight Loss
Herbs for weight loss can be really helpful in boosting a sluggish metabolism and kick starting your weight loss program. To lose weight with herbs, look for a supplement that contains a good B complex to assist your energy levels that is targeted to weight loss. Many herbal supplements for weight loss will also contain B Vitamins, and minerals such as chromium, manganese, zinc and calcium.
Please have in mind that you should always educate yourself about the herbs before you start using them. It is always a good idea to consult your health provider before taking herbal supplements or herbs for weight loss.