You may have noticed a trend in recent years towards people using herbal supplements with the goal of achieving weight loss. The key is getting a good holistic selection of herbs and combining the effects. This will give your body a nice all round boost and support long-term health.
There is a growing body evidence to support this rationale, so I thought you might like a summary.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular herbs used for weight loss and give you links to some of the available research. Click on the read more links to see a full article on each herb.
If you want to know more about weight loss diet planning to go alongside the herbs, then please read the other weight loss articles starting with LOSING WEIGHT Part One – Dietary Fiber & Fat
Weight Loss Strategies
There are several key areas where herbs can help with weight loss.
- Herbs can suppress your food cravings
- Herbs can encourage fat burning
- Herbs can help balance your blood sugar levels
- Herbs can boost your metabolism
- Herbs can speed up your elimination
- Herbs can give hormonal support and a sense of wellbeing
Getting a combination of these actions will give you a holistic approach to managing your weight with herbs
Let us being with suppressing appetite
Caralluma fimbriata contains pregnane glycosides which are believed to block the activity of citrate lyase. By blocking this enzyme, Caralluma fimbriata blocks the formation of fat by the body. Further, Carallurna fimbriata also blocks another enxyme called Malonyl Coenzyme A. By blocking this enzyme, fat formation is further blocked and the body is forced to burn its fat reserves. This accelerates the rate of fat loss by the body. (1)
Caralluma fimbriata has been clinically demonstrated to suppress appetite and stop hunger pangs in patients. It is believed that the pregnane glycosides in Caralluma fimbriata inhibit the hunger sensory mechanism of the hypothalamus. The main reason why most weight-loss programs fail is that the patient always feels dull and tired after attaining weight loss. This makes the patient go back to his old eating habits and results in a rebound weight gain. Patients on Caralluma however, report feeling more energetic and have gained lean muscle mass while losing fat. (1)
A human study of green tea extract containing 90 mg EGCG taken three times daily concluded that men taking the extract burned 266 more calories per day than did those in the placebo group and that green tea extract’s thermogenic effects may play a role in controlling obesity (6)
Clinical studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat. One study found that the combination of green tea and caffeine improved weight loss and maintenance in people who were overweight and moderately obese. Some researchers think that substances in green tea known as catechins are responsible for its fat-burning effect. (6)
Cayenne has been shown to encourage weight loss. Three main areas of potential benefit for weight management were found: increased energy expenditure increased lipid oxidation and reduced appetite.
Capsaicin (from cayenne pepper) consumption 1 hour before low-intensity exercise is a valuable supplement for the treatment of individuals with hyperlipidemia and/or obesity because it improves fat burning. Capsinoid ingestion increases energy expenditure through the activation of brown adipose tissue in humans (7)
Blood Sugar Control
Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar in the mouth and can potentially help with sugar cravings. The atomic arrangements of gymnemic acids to the taste buds are similar to sugar molecules which fill the receptors in the taste buds preventing its activation by the sugar molecule in the food. Similarly, in the intestine it attaches to the receptor present in the external layer of the intestine, thereby preventing the absorption of sugar molecules by the intestine, leading to a reduction in blood sugar levels. (2)
One study demonstrated that administration of Gymnema Sylvestre leaves (200 mg/kg) to alloxan-induced diabetic Wistar rats lowered blood glucose levels through the regeneration of pancreatic beta cells (2)
White Kidney Bean
An alternative to a low GI diet are products that slow the absorption of carbohydrates through the inhibition of enzymes responsible for their digestion. These products include alpha-amylase and glucosidase inhibitors which have been used as pharmaceutical drugs.
Alpha-amylase inhibitors are also present in grains, including wheat and rice. However, the greatest body of research has gone into glycoproteins extracted from kidney beans.
Ten clinical studies have demonstrated weight loss over time following administration of Phase 2 (White kidney bean extract). Three studies demonstrated significant loss of body weight with Phase 2 compared to a placebo control in people who are overweight or obese. (4)
Garcinia cambogia reduced abdominal fat accumulation in subjects, regardless of sex, who had the visceral fat accumulation type of obesity. No rebound effect was observed. It is therefore expected that G Cambogia may be useful for the prevention and reduction of accumulation of visceral fat. (3)
Studies have shown that the extracts as well as hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a main organic acid component of the fruit rind, exhibited anti-obesity activity including reduced food intake and body fat gain by regulating the serotonin levels related to satiety. (3)
Bitter Orange is used widely in the weight loss and sports industry. The extract is taken from the skin of the common Seville orange from which marmalade is traditionally made, but is also present in the skins of other citrus fruits. (8)
p-synephrine is the primary protoalkaloid in Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) and other Citrus species which is extracted and added to dietary supplements. (8)
In a ten-week study a 32 person group consuming the bitter orange lost an average of 4.63 kg, the group on the diet and exercise regime lost 3.45 kg, and the group taking the product plus diet and exercise lost 6.59 kg. (8)
Results of one study provide proof of the concept that targeting resting muscle thermogenesis effectively treats the metabolic diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes, in humans. Muscle is an ideal tissue to target for increasing thermogenesis, as it has a large-reserve metabolic capacity.
Piperine has many of the qualities that would be required for any compound to be useful as a therapeutic treatment for metabolic diseases in humans:
It destabilizes the super-relaxed muscle state and can lead to substantial thermogenesis.
It functions only in fast twitch muscle fibers with a marginal effect in cardiac muscle fibers.
It has little effect on fully active muscle fibers.
It is well tolerated at high doses. (9)
Guarana seeds have the highest caffeine concentration among plants accumulating purine alkaloids but in contrast with coffee and tea. The laboratory evidence presented makes it seem likely that caffeine is the main ingredient that gives Guarana its ability to induce weight loss, fat oxidation, lipolysis, and thermogenesis. (11)
Findings demonstrate that consuming a supplement containing guarana, prior to exercise, can positively impact subsequent memory performance and reduce perceived exertion during a moderate-intensity run in active males. (11)
Psyllium husks are very safe and are used by millions of people throughout the world as a natural alternative to some habit-forming laxatives. Psyllium is the most commonly used bulking agent in Canada. In placebo-control trials, Psyllium has been shown to decrease stool transit time, and improve stool frequency, consistency and weight. (10)
The benefit if using a bulking fiber such as Psyllium husk is twofold. Not only do you get a better elimination, reducing the build up in the digestive system, but you also get a sense of fullness thus reducing appetite. These two effects make Psyllium husk the perfect addition to your herbal weight loss program.
Cascara was a folk medicine used by native American people and immigrants as a natural laxative. The plant itself was not definitely identified by scientists until 1805, and the bark was not commonly used as medicine 1877. (12)
Generally, the five anthraquinones, rhein, emodin, aloe-emodin, physcion and chrysophanol are used as chemical markers for the quality control of rhubarb products. (12)
The effect is primarily due to the influence of the herb on the motility of the colon, inhibiting stationary and stimulating propulsive contractions. This results in an accelerated intestinal passage. (12)
” 7-Keto DHEA can be synthesized from the diosgenin extract of Wild Yam. 7-Keto DHEA is a metabolite of DHEA. It is a metabolite of a hormone which can enhance the immune functioning and helps in reducing body fat. 7-Keto DHEA is formed when DHEA breaks down. It is twice as effective as DHEA. (5)
Diosgenin from Wild yam can be useful in the treatment of diabetes by promoting adipocyte differentiation and by inhibiting inflammation in adipose tissues. Therefore, diosgenin may be useful to improve the patient’s condition in the glucose metabolic disorder associated with obesity.
You can see how many different areas herbs can help with weight loss.
The secret to getting sustainable weight management is finding the balance between diet, exercise, and supplementation. When herbs are used in a holistic fashion addressing multiple areas simultaneously, then the body responds well.
Taking one supplement in high doses is not recommended, as this will cause an imbalance and the body will rebound as soon as the supplement is withdrawn from circulation.
In our holistic herbal weight loss program you can find all the herbs above in one program along with others to give you a holistic weight management solution.
For more information on weight loss strategies see the other articles in this series:
(1) Caralluma (Caralluma Fimbriata) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/caralluma-caralluma-fimbriata-herbal-monograph
(2) Gymnema (Gymnema Sylvestre) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/gymnema-gymnema-sylvestre-herbal-monograph
(3) Garcinia (Garcinia Cambogia) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/garcinia-garcinia-cambogia-herbal-monograph
(4) White Kidney Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/white-kidney-bean-phaseolus-vulgaris-herbal-monograph
(5) Wild Yam (Dioscorea Villosa) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/wild-yam-dioscorea-villosa-herbal-monograph
(6) Green tea (Camellia sinensis) Herbal Monograph https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/green-tea-camellia-sinensis-herbal-monograph
(7) Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum annum) Herbal Monograph https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/cayenne-pepper-capsicum-annuum-herbal-monograph
(8) Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Herbal Monograph https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/bitter-orange-citrus-aurantium-herbal-monograph
(9) Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/black-pepper-piper-nigrum-herbal-monograph
(10) Psyllium Husk (Plantago psyllium) Herbal Monograph. https://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/psyllium-husk-plantago-psyllium-herbal-monograph
(11) Guarana (Paullinia cupana) Herbal Monographhttps://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/guarana-paullinia-cupana-herbal-monograph
(12) Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) Herbal Monographhttps://www.brettelliott.com/detox-blog/cascara-sagrada-rhamnus-purshiana-herbal-monograph