Herbal medicine has been around for centuries and is a staple of Eastern medicine. Herbs are considered a form of complementary therapy used in the United States and are used by about 20% of the US population along with other natural products, of which $14.8 billion is spent annually.
Natural products, such as herbs, and supplements are most commonly used for pain, disease prevention, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ailments, to promote wellbeing and for weight loss.
Not A Quick Fix
It is very important to note and understand that herbs DO NOT melt fat. They are not a quick fix that eliminates the need for exercise and healthy diet.
In fact, without regular exercise and calorie control, weight loss will not happen. But, herbs can be useful in supporting and complementing healthy weight loss efforts.
Herbs as food or whole plant formulations can help by reducing stress, supporting healthy digestion and elimination processes in the body and by boosting metabolism.
Another way that using herbs indirectly helps weight loss is through the practice itself. Just the thought of herbs and the process of making herbal teas elicits feelings and awareness of calm and wellness, and this can help one to maintain a focus on health, and self-care, which, certainly is a boost for weight loss. It can also deter unhealthy habits. When one takes the time to buy, prepare and use herbs in their daily life, it can make them think twice about eating unhealthy junk food.
Herbs As Food
Herbs are often used as spices, in cooking and teas to help weight management. While they do not directly influence weight loss, they do aid the body in specific ways that indirectly helps with fat burning efforts.
Using herbs in one’s diet allows for the intake of added fiber and plant based foods, which, offers a stronger nutritional base and added energy for exercise.
For example, nettle leaf, when dried can be added to sauces. And sprouted fenugreek that helps with regulating blood sugar and dandelion leaf that is a diuretic can be added to salads.
Herbs That Aid For Digestion
- Cayenne Pepper
Herbs That Promote Fat and Cholesterol Breakdown
These herbs, when taken in tea form before eating a meal help to stimulate stomach secretions and promote cholesterol and fat breakdown in the body.
- Dandelion root
Herbal teas can play an important role in overall health and wellness and can certainly be a great support in weight loss efforts.
One of the best reasons to use herbal teas is for healthy hydration, which, can then eliminate the need for sugary, high calorie and unhealthy drinks, like soda and juice.
Green tea is a great option that has many healing properties, and when drank in a pure, “no sugar or added flavor state” offers the opportunity to lose more weight than with diet alone. It is also known to curb appetite, increase metabolism and it’s an antioxidant.
Yet another way herbal teas can support weight loss is they can often satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthy way, with the many herbal teas available in berry, lemon and honey flavors.
Stress can be a major factor in sabotaging weight loss efforts, as it contributes to belly fat, fatigue and imbalances in blood sugar levels. There are several herbs with calming effects and one of the most popular is chamomile that makes the perfect herbal tea to alleviate stress and therefore support one’s weight loss efforts.
There are herbal supplements that can aid weight loss efforts, and these are best chosen by the specific action you wish to achieve.
Choosing The Right Supplements
Always choose all natural products without additives, sugar or artificial ingredients.
Beware of supplements that claim “fast” or “extreme” weight loss, and those that can contain stimulants such as, ephedra, which, can cause nervousness and anxiety and in the long run can deter a permanent healthy weight.
Also, please note that supplements are not regulated, tested or approved by the FDA, and so there is no one regulating what the label can, or does state. So, do the research and avoid those that offer over hyped claims.
Herbal supplements offer specific functions that aid weight loss, and some of these are listed below.
Adaptogenic Herbs: These are herbs that support balance in the body, otherwise known as homeostasis, which, includes, the stabilization of glucose metabolism, and immunity.
- Chinese Ginseng
- American ginseng
- Holy basil
Anti Stress Herbs– The use of herbs in supplement form that calm and help to reduce stress and curb anxiety are helpful for weight loss. As previously mentioned, reducing stress is essential in weight loss efforts and can further one’s efforts exponentially, by not only eliminating stress related eating, but, by helping to curb the proliferation of belly fat and keeping one focused on diet and exercise.
Anti Stress Herbs Include–
- California Poppy
- Lemon Balm
- St. Jonn’s Wort
Herbs That Stimulate Digestion
Another way to improve weight loss and fat burning is by using natural products that improve the body’s digestive process, some good choices are:
- Lemon balm
10 Super Herbs That Aid Weight Loss
Weight loss is not easy and for many turns into a lifelong struggle. Anything that is effective, and all natural that can aid those efforts is always welcome. These are some of the best herbal aids for weight loss that when used with a healthy diet and exercise can really enhance results to get a fit and healthy body once and for all.
1. Green Tea
Green tea leaves are some of the most useful and healthy botanicals for all types of uses.
Green tea contains catechins, which, are a class of antioxidants that help with boosting metabolism and burning fat.
Green tea alone will not melt fat, but, when used as part of a healthy diet and exercise regimen it can improve weight loss efforts. There have been several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005 that showed that men who drank green tea as part of a sensible weight loss plan lost more weight that those who did not, an average of 2.4 pounds more.
How To Use It
Green tea can be purchased in supplement pill form, suggested dose is 200 to 400 mg daily. Or it can be drank as a tea, sugar free, and fresh brewed is always best. It is also great for use in recipes and cooking, and dried green tea leaves can be added to soups and marinara sauces.
Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which, is well known for fat burning. Several studies have shown that daily intake of 28 grams of cayenne pepper added to meals helps to curb hunger, reduce calorie intake and also increase metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day.
3. Gymnema Sylvestre
This interesting herb is derived from a plant that grows wild in India and Africa.
It has the unique benefit of reducing the ability to taste sweets. This is due to the fact that Gymnema molecules are similar to glucose and so they satisfy taste bud receptors like sugar would.
A study published in the Journal of Physiology & Behavior in 1983 showed that subjects who had ingested gymnema had lower rates of perception of sweetness. They also ate less sugary snacks as compared to the control subjects.
How To Use It
Gymnema Sylvestre comes in table and capsule form. Recommended does is 300 mg two to three times daily. It’s best to not go over this amount as high doses have been linked to low blood sugar.
Guggul is an herbal medicine that is made from the sticky gum of various myrrh trees. It is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to help lower cholesterol, relieve joint pain and help with weight loss.
While its actual effectiveness for weight loss is speculative, a 1999 study conducted at the University of Nebraska and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City found evidence that it does help. Subjects who took 750 mg of Guggul every day and performed strength and aerobic training 3 times per week for a total of 6 weeks lost about 6 pounds. But, the subjects who did not take Guggul and only worked out lost only 1⁄2 to 1 pound.
Dr. John Douillard, Ph.D., director of the LifeSpa School of Ayurveda, says that this herbal supplement helps the body metabolize fat and also increases thyroid hormone levels by boosting thyroid function.
How To Use It
Gugul can be purchased in supplement form and the recommended dose is 500 mg, 3 times per day for 3 months.
5. Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms grow out in the wild on fallen tree logs, and are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their perceived ability to fight fatigue, increase energy and immunity and to build strength.
While there is no direct relationship between fat burning and Reishi mushrooms, it is beneficial to feel strong and energetic when losing weight. It allows one to stick with a regular exercise plan, and since fatigue often disguises itself as hunger, it can help in that way too.
How To Use It
Reishi mushrooms come in both supplement pill form and liquid drops. The recommended dose is either 10 to 20 drops of the liquid or one 600 mg capsule daily.
You should not use Reishi mushrooms if you have an allergy to mushrooms, and using them with or after coffee can cause jitters.
6. Mustard Seed
Mustard is made from seeds of certain plants, including those of the Brassica and Sinapis genera.
Mustard seed has several uses. First it can be used as a spice. Second it is used as a condiment when the seeds are ground and mixed with a liquid. The seeds can also be used to make mustard oil.
And then there are also mustard greens that are a good source of fiber that keeps you full longer, and 1 cup of mustard greens provides 65% of daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C that supports immunity to keep you healthy and therefore in optimal shape for exercise.
How To Use It
In aiding weight loss mustard is always a better condiment choice than fat laden mayonnaise, as it has a lot less calories, and no fat.
Another option is to use spicy mustard as it can also help to curb appetite and increase metabolism by drinking a glass of water mixed with spicy mustard before a meal. This will turn up body heat to rev metabolism and it also provides essential omega 3 fatty acids that stimulate fat burning.
Ginseng, specifically Panax ginseng, which, is more commonly known as Chinese ginseng, Japanese ginseng or Korean ginseng can help weight loss in various ways.
The ginseng plant is a vibrant green color and has yellow green color flowers that produce red berries.
The plant also has a gnarled root with stringy shoots. Its medicinal value is not reached until the plant matures, which, occurs at 6 years of growth.
The Chinese and Korean varieties of ginseng are the same plants, while American ginseng is a relative in the same
species and is native only to North America.
Ginseng has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and Eastern culture for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. Its primary healing element is saponins referred to as ginsenosides. A lot of research has been done on Ginseng and it is extremely popular in fitness and body building circles due to its perceived effect on physical performance.
Increase In Physical Performance
There have been studies that showed Ginseng to be helpful in increasing physical performance and muscle endurance.
A study done by researchers in China found that mice that were fed ginseng for 15 days had more energy and less fatigue during forced swimming. Scientists hypothesize that fatigue was decreased because ginseng increased enzymes that are key in creatine production, which, facilitated increased energy and allowed them to burn less carbohydrates.
That same creatine production has been linked in other studies to an increase in upper and lower body muscle strength.
Several studies have shown ginseng to improve endurance during workouts.
A study conducted at California State Polytechnic University found that research subjects that took Panax notoginseng for 30 days were able to exercise 7 minutes longer before exhaustion hit than they could without it. This is attributed to the fact that ginseng causes the body to burn fat instead of glucose for fuel during workouts.
Another study reported that athletes in training who were taking Panax ginseng were able to significantly improve their aerobic capacity.
Research done in Korea reported that men who took ginseng for 1 week had less muscle damage and inflammation in the thighs as compared to those subjects who took a placebo. Another study conducted by Chinese researchers found similar results with men who took ginseng for 4 weeks.
Researchers in Brazil also found that ginseng helped to protect muscle fibers from damage that results from negative-rep training by protecting membrane integrity and reducing oxidative damage, which, results in better muscle growth and recovery.
Stress and Wellbeing
Asian ginseng is considered by some to be an “adaptogen,” which is defined as something that assists the body in dealing with physical or mental stress. While the assessment of such can be difficult to study in a scientific
setting, some compelling evidence exists that ginseng can achieve a better sense of wellbeing.
501 men and women were found to have improved energy, sex life, sleep, wellbeing and personal satisfaction after taking Asian ginseng.
Another well-designed study showed that those who took a supplement with ginseng reported a better quality of life as compared to those who took a supplement without ginseng.
What NCCAM Says About Ginseng
The National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine says that some studies have shown Asian ginseng to be effective in lowering blood glucose. And, other studies indicate possible benefits to improve immunity.
While there has been extensive research conducted into Asian ginseng, there is not enough conclusive data to make a final judgment as to its efficacy.
They consider most of the evidence to be preliminary. But, they do support further research.
In athletic and fitness circles many use ginseng to improve performance, muscle recovery and endurance. It is certainly an important consideration for those who are engaging in exercise for weight loss and building lean muscle tone as it can help to enhance those efforts and therefore yield better results when losing weight.
How To Use It
A typical dose is 500 to 1,000 mg of any Panax ginseng variety with a content of at least 3% total ginsenosides, 2 to 3 times per day. One dose should be taken 30 minutes before exercise.
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon”, most of the cinnamon found on your local store shelves is derived from related species, which are also referred to as “cassia” to distinguish them from “true cinnamon”.
Cinnamon is an herb that has been used in ancient medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including, gastrointestinal issues, urinary infections, colds and flu, among others.
Cinnamon is not a weight loss plan, but, an aid that helps to improve and enhance results of a healthy diet and exercise plan.
It is also rich in iron, calcium, fiber and manganese, all of which, are essential nutrients the body needs.
Studies have shown that it can help people with Type 2 Diabetes metabolize sugar better.
Richard Anderson at the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland discovered that cassia Cinnamon improves the body’s ability to metabolize glucose that controls blood sugar levels and this helps to balance the appetite to enhance weight loss efforts.
Cinnamon contains MHCP, which, is both an anti-oxidant and a flavonoid that increases fat cell’s responsiveness to insulin.
According to James A. Duke, Ph.D., a botanist retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon can make insulin efficiency three times more effective.
Since high blood sugar levels increase the storage of fat by the body, cinnamon can help to prevent that and
enable one to lose more
Cinnamon is also sweet and can go a long way to satisfying one’s sweet tooth therefore furthering weight loss efforts even more.
Cinnamon also helps to delay the passing of food from the stomach into the intestine, which, makes you feel full longer and therefore you eat less.
How To Use It
Cinnamon can be used in various ways. It can be added to herbal tea or coffee, sprinkled on whole grain toast, cereal or oatmeal. It can also be sprinkled on fresh fruit of all kinds, like, apples, peaches, and pears.
Cinnamon supplements are available, but, those that have Type 2 diabetes may need to adjust any other treatments being used when using them. They can also interact with certain antibiotics, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others. Always ask your doctor before taking cinnamon supplements.
There are no known side effects from cinnamon, though some might be allergic.
In very high quantities, cinnamon that contains coumarin may be toxic especially for those with liver problems. Cancer patients, especially those with hormone effected conditions, like breast cancer, should not take cinnamon supplements. Also, they are not recommended for children or during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Ginger or ginger root comes from the plant called Zingiber officinale, and is a member of a plant family that includes other popular spices, like turmeric, and cardamom.
Ginger is believed to be helpful in managing belly fat, which is caused by overeating, cortisol production, and not leading a healthy lifestyle.
While ginger can help, again, it is not a quick fix or answer to weight loss or fat burning. It is just a natural aid that can improve results when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercises.
The active ingredient in ginger is gingerols, and it can help weight loss efforts in various ways.
Reducing Appetite Appetite
The first way in which ginger aids weight loss is by reducing appetite through the regulation of blood sugars and serum cholesterol. In 2006 the British Journal of Nutrition noted that raw ginger helped to stabilize blood sugar, cholesterol and lipids.
According to Dr. Susan Brown, who authored the article Ten Steps To Better Digestion, drinking ginger tea helps with digestion.
Improved digestion means a faster absorption of essential body nutrients that make the body expend energy and therefore burn fat faster.
Reducing Cortisol Production
Ginger has been cited as a cortisol suppressant. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is key in regulating energy and mobilization in the body. But, chronic stress can make cortisol levels rise so high that it contributes to an increase in belly fat, a visceral fat that is linked to serious risks of health complications and a recent study showed that it can shorten life expectancy in women.
Ginger is regarded a stimulant herb, and so it can increase energy levels much like caffeine. Increased energy facilitates stronger workouts, which, really improves weight loss.
Ginger packs a ton of nutrients, including, fiber, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and phosphorus. When the body receives proper nutrition on a daily basis, it makes one feel strong, healthy and well, which, can only improve weight loss efforts.
How To Use It
The University Of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dose of no more than 4 grams, or 2 teaspoons, of ginger daily. Pregnant women should not ingest more than 1 gram per day.
Improve digestion throughout the day by having a cup of ginger tea in the morning. Make extra to have it one hand throughout the day to increase energy, manage cortisol and improve weight loss efforts.
- Heat 4 cups of water.
- Put a small piece of peeled ginger in the pot and simmer for a few minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add fresh lemon juice to taste.
Always consult a doctor before ingesting larger amounts of ginger because it is contraindicated with certain medical conditions.
Psyllium is a soluble fiber that is made from seeds of the Plantago Psyllium plant.
Its primary function is to help cleanse the body of waste products, but, it also has some real benefits for weight loss, and
also for keeping blood sugar levels in balance.
The main way that fiber helps with weight management is that it’s filling, and this means that one can eat less.
Also regular intake of fiber helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, which eliminates crazy cravings for unhealthy foods and erratic eating.
Regular intake of psyllium fiber can be one of the best tools in your arsenal of weapons to battle body fat.
How To Use It
Psyllium comes in powder form that needs to be mixed with water and taken as directed. Typically it is best to take it before meals.
Herbalism is a complex process that is best handled by professionals. Those trained in herbal remedies can help you determine which herbs and which herbal combinations are best for your needs and goals.
It is important to do proper research into herbs for weight loss support or for any other use before taking action because herbs can interact with other medications and some are very powerful so should be taken with caution.
There are also herbs that are toxic on their own, when taken in combination with other herbs or with certain medications.
A qualified herbalist or a holistic practitioner well versed in medicinal herbs can help ensure your safety and also its efficiency in any fat burning efforts.
Herbs can be wonderful additions to a healthy lifestyle. But, keep in mind that they are not magical fixes for weight loss. Permanent, healthy and effective weight loss can only be achieved through a calorie appropriate diet and regular exercise. Eating small meals that consist of lean protein, complex carbs and good fats every 3 hours and regular cardio and muscle toning exercise weekly will yield the best results.
The use of these and other herbs can help in those efforts, and can be tools in a well-rounded arsenal in the battle with fat burning, but, they should never be considered a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.