Weight Loss Herbs: General Info

Weight loss is a time-honored struggle that doesn't seem to be getting any easier. While diet and exercise are the two most influential factors in maintaining a healthy weight, progressive thinkers are increasingly turning to alternative measures to aid in weight loss. Herbs are plant extracts that are being used to treat hundreds of ailments and conditions, including excess weight. Although they are only just gaining popularity in the West, they have long been a health maintenance staple in many other parts of the world.

Most popular weight loss herbs

Many herbs are not regulated by the FDA. It is strongly recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before beginning any herbal remedy treatment. Keep in mind, too, that everybody reacts differently to herbs. What may suppress one person's appetite may not work as well with someone else. These are some of the most commonly used herbs to aid in weight loss:

1.   Garcinia cambogia to help weight loss

This herb is rich in a substance called hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, which is believed to promote weight loss by blocking the conversion of sugars and starches into fats. In addition to inhibiting fat production, it is also thought to aid in suppressing appetite by raising certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin.

2.   Banaba leaf to manage your appetite

A medical plant used in Southeast Asia, this herb claims to lower blood sugar and promote healthy insulin levels that are related to appetite. Keeping these areas regulated may moderate a person's cravings and caloric consumption.

3.   Psyllium to create a sense of being full - reducing overeating

This is a natural form of fiber. It has been known to aid in weight loss by creating a sense of fullness, especially when taken before a meal or with a large glass of water, to help with absorption.

4.   Guarana - suppresses appetite and promotes weight loss

Produced mainly in Brazil, one of this herb's main ingredients is caffeine. Combined with other compound, namely theobromine and theophylline, guarana is a nervous system stimulant that may suppress appetite and promote weight loss. Five hundred to a thousand milligrams yields approximately the same caffeine levels as 2 cups of coffee per day. Ingesting more can cause nervousness and irritability.

5.   White willow bark - stimulates fat metabolism

This herb carries anti-inflammatory properties and increases norepinephrine levels, which may stimulate fat metabolism, and lead to weight loss.

Are herbs safe or not? 

Herbs are showing great promise in furthering weight loss. But keep in mind that, although herbs are considered "natural," this does not necessarily mean they are safe for human consumption. Some may also have unpleasant side-effects, or interact with other drugs and supplements you may be taking. Consult a professional herbalist or healthcare practitioner for information about specific herbs, their suggested doses, side effects, and uses.

For more general information on herbal supplements see the following article from TheDietChannel: Herbal Supplements: General Info.