January 24, 2011

Herbal Weight Loss

Weight loss is not easy and there’s no magic bullet to achieve it, but herbal weight loss in association with a low glycemic diet and regular exercise can help shed unwanted pounds.

What are Herbs?

Herbs are plants or plant extracts used as food, flavoring, perfume, and medicine.  Any part of the plant may be beneficial; leaves, bark, berries, root, seeds, stems, or flowers.

Herbal Weight Loss: How it Works

Weight management is complex.  Most herbs, supplements, and medicines usually target weight loss through a single mechanism.  Many times this not enough to lead to meaningful weight loss as fat cells, or adipocytes strive to maintain their size and adjust quite readily to these single mechanism attempts.

Combining herbs that affect weight loss by different mechanisms is more likely to lead to better weight loss results than using a single herb.

Herbs promote weight loss in a couple different ways.  Some herbs increase metabolism, or the rate at which we burn calories.  Other herbs affect appetite curbing our desire to overeat.  Some herbs promote water loss, which can be dangerous if excessive.

Herbal Weight LossGreen Tea

Green tea stimulates metabolism, inhibits fat absorption, and in a recent study was shown to increase satiety and fullness.  To obtain the benefits of green tea, one would need to drink 3 to 6 cups of tea a day.  An equivalent dose can be obtained from taking green tea extract of 500 mg/day.  Green tea does contain caffeine, too.

Brown Kelp

Brown kelp or seaweed is high in iodine and several other minerals necessary to support life.  Iodine is needed for optimal thyroid function.  The thyroid gland regulates metabolism.  Low thyroid function leads to lower metabolism.  Brown kelp also blocks absorption of carbohydrates by blocking the enzymes, alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase.  This leads to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, which promotes weight loss.  It also causes earlier satiety.

Irvingia

Irvingia gabonensis, or African mango has shown to cause significant weight loss in humans in controlled trials, up to 28 pounds in 10 weeks.  Irvingia affects weight loss through several mechanisms.  First, it inhibits alpha amylase, thus limiting the absorption of carbohydrates.  It stimulates adinopectin, a hormone, which improves insulin sensitivity.  That means we store less fat.  Irvingia inhibits the enzyme glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase reducing fatty acid synthesis and the conversion of glucose into fat.  In the 10-week placebo controlled study 150 mg of Irvingia was taken twice a day.

Panax Ginseng

Ginseng is a well-studied herb that increases body metabolism contributing to weight loss.  Ginseng improves blood flow and helps the body adapt to stress.

White Kidney Bean Extract

White kidney bean extract comes from the plant Phaseolus vulgaris and inhibits alpha amylase decreasing the absorption of carbohydrates making it a starch blocker.  Studies on white kidney bean extract and weight loss have yielded mix results.

Dandelion

Dandelion causes weight loss because it is a diuretic and can cause significant water loss.  Losing water to lose weight is not recommended and can be dangerous if one becomes too dehydrated.

Guarana

Guarana, or Brazilian cocoa is a stimulant and is found in today’s popular energy drinks.  Guarana is a rich source for caffeine containing up to three times the caffeine as coffee.  Guarana may aid weight loss by stimulating burning of fat and suppressing appetite.  These effects appear to be related to its caffeine content.

Weight Loss KeysHerbal Weight Loss

To optimal weight loss remember to consume low glycemic carbohydrates and engage in regular physical activity.  Hormonal deficiencies are a major factor contributing to excessive weight, and unfortunately are frequently over looked.  If you struggle with your weight be sure to have your hormone levels measured.

See related articles.

Weight Loss Supplements That Work

Stop Weight Gain With Green Tea

Herbs For Menopause

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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