This page reviews some natural herbs for weight loss and looks at the evidence for a number of the most popular herbs found in many supplements.
Whilst some of these herbs do show some promise, they need to be taken as a part of a healthy diet, lifestyle, weight loss regime and exercise program for any noticeable effect to be seen.
It should also be noted that the safety of some herbs when used regularly has been questioned and whilst widely available, the legislation concerning their manufacture, sale and use remains weak.
That said, guidelines are tightening and responsible manufacturers are producing products containing natural herbs for weight loss that comply with what legislation does exist.
If you are going to use herbal supplements as part of your weight loss program, do some research, choose reputable manufacturers and follow the guidelines.
Natural Herbs for Weight Loss
Caffeine is probably the most widely used stimulant and qualifies as one of the main natural herbs for weight loss.
It raises your metabolism and heightens concentration and whilst most commonly drunk, is also found in many weight loss supplements.
Caffeine has been shown in controlled trials to increase the amount of fat released from fat cells and to increase oxygen consumption, an indication of calories burned. Oral doses of around 250mg-280mg were given to test subjects and the effects compared with control groups given a placebo.
Similar doses of caffeine have also been shown to cause a rise in heat production, eg calories being burnt. Increases in the dose led to proportionate increases in heat production in the same test subjects.
Now don’t go drinking lots of coffee to lose lots of weight quickly – the number of calories burned was modest and unlikley to cause a great deal of weight loss.
The downside to caffeine, or rather heavy coffee drinking is its links to raised blood cholesterol and blood pressure. However, this is not necessarily due to caffeine. Two or three cups a day is fine, but don’t overdo it!
Just about everyone is jumping on the green tea bandwagon, quite rightly extolling its antioxidant properties! It also looks a promising bet as one of the more effective natural herbs for weight loss to include in your program.
The links between green tea and weight loss relate to catechin polyphenols in green tea that appear to stimulate nerve activity in fat cells that causes the release of fat.
Controlled trials on green tea extracts have demonstrated increases in the number of total calories and fat calories burned by trial participants given the extract.
Garcinia Cambogia is a tamarind, a fruit, the rind of which contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). It’s often touted as one of the more effective natural herbs for weight loss.
The HCA limits the conversion of carbohydrates to fat (lipogenesis) by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme that converts excess sugar to fat.
Some studies have shown that HCA can reduce snacking when three doses of 300mg of HCA were given to test subjects at regular intervals during the day.
Snacking between meals was reduced in the test group compared to a group given a placebo, and daily total calorie intake was reduced by as much as 30% in some test subjects.
More research is required, but the benefits of garcinia cambogia to combat snacking look promising. However, there’s plenty of research that disputes any claims made for its role in promoting weight loss.
Capsaicin is found in chilli peppers and red bell peppers. Some studies have found that it generates heat (no kidding!) and stimulates fat breakdown – one of the more fiery natural herbs for weight loss!
Some studies have also found it aids weight reduction in test subjects when eaten daily.
What have you got to lose? If you enjoy hot, spicy food add some chillis or chilli powder to healthy recipes or try a supplement containing chilli peppers.
A herb, better known by it’s marketing names ephedra or ephedrine.
Yep, it has indeed been shown to aid weight loss but at a price…it’s use has been linked to 17 deaths in the US, acute hepatitis and other forms of liver damage.
It’s no longer widely available, banned in the US, but can still be purchased on the internet. Our advice…avoid it.
Drinking a tea made from the leaves of this plant is claimed to inhibit your ability to taste sugar for a short period, maybe up to an hour or two.
The idea is if you can’t taste the sugar, sugary foods lose their appeal. Doesn’t have much effect on pizza, though!
Yohimbe is a herb extracted from the bark of the yohimbe tree, which is found in Africa.
Yohimbe has long been touted as an aphrodisiac and contains the active ingredient yohimbine. This is an alkaloid monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor that blocks adrenergic receptors and aids the dilation of blood vessels, so lowering blood pressure.
Research has also indicated that yohimbe may act as one of the natural herbs for weight loss due to its ability to suppress the body’s ability to store fat.
Again the evidence is a little sparse and the side effects serious. Avoid if you’re taking anti-depressants or blood pressure medication, if pregnant, prone to psychosis, have kidney, liver or heart disease, have diabetes or suffer from ulcers – what was that about treating herbs with caution!
There are indeed a number of natural herbs for weight loss that may be worthy of further investigation. However, let’s be clear on this – herbal supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet, weight loss program and exercise regime.
These are the only effective ways to lose weight and maintain your weight loss in the long term. Natural herbs for weight loss do not offer a short cut, however attractive that may be.