Herbs For Weight Loss
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Many people who seek to lose weight are skeptical of using prescription or over-the-counter methods. Others have tried to melt off the pounds by adopting fad diets and have become disheartened by their lack of results.
While the combination of healthy diet and exercise is considered by experts to be the most effective means of losing weight and keeping it off, the following herbs have been investigated and used by various cultures and studied for their potential to promote weight loss and/or support weight loss efforts. Note that some appear to have greater effectiveness than others, and ephedra is now considered unsafe. This page is not medical advice.
10 Herbs For Weight Loss
Green Tea - Camellia sinensis
Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea was originally consumed in China and is now considered a health beverage by other cultures throughout the world. Due to variances among horticulture methods, harvesting times, and processing techniques, many different varieties of green tea are on the market today.  Green tea has been extensively studied over the past few decades for its potential health benefits, which include weight loss. Green tea contains caffeine, which can accelerate the metabolism and suppress the appetite. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that regular consumption of green tea by healthy human subjects increased fat loss and decreased fatigue when compared to the placebo group.  Results from clinical trials suggest that green tea may actually increase the body's ability to burn fat.  Despite these claims and others, FDA does not recognize green tea as having health benefits.
Senna - Cassia acutiflora
Native to India and the Middle East, senna is manufactured and sold worldwide as a natural stimulant laxative. The active constituents in senna--called sennosides--are responsible for the plant's stimulant action. While senna teas, tinctures and capsules contain dried leaves of the senna plant (in loose-leaf or powder form), most over-the-counter natural laxatives are formulated with extracted sennosides. Senna is associated with weight loss because it expels fluid and waste from the body , which causes reductions in water weight. People who use senna may experience an immediate loss of weight which is typically the result of water loss and can easily be mistaken for fat loss - however experts have stated that senna is not an effective means of losing fat and is not approved by the FDA as a means of losing weight.  Consumption of senna leaf can help to cleanse and detoxify the body and thereby may accelerate weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise - however others have criticized senna as a bowel irritant.
Cayenne - Capsicum minimum
Primarily used as a cooking spice and flavor enhancer , cayenne pepper is a key ingredient in the Master Cleanse and has been studied in recent years for its potential as a weight-loss aid.  Cayenne pepper contains an active constituent called capsaicin that increase's the body's metabolic rate and may actually decrease appetite.  As suggested by the results of a study featured in Physiology and Behavior, regular consumption of cayenne pepper at mealtimes can reduce overeating behavior and create a feeling of fullness that lasts until the next meal.  For those who do not tolerate or enjoy spicy foods, cayenne can also be taken in capsule form and is sold as a dietary supplement in health food stores worldwide. 
Rhubarb root - Rheum ofﬁcinale
Discovered in China by Marco Polo in the 17th Century, rhubarb has a history of use as a remedy for constipation and related ailments.  Rhubarb is also associated with weight loss because of its high fiber content which is reported to help to flush the bowels and increase energy levels. 
Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica
Native to northern Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, stinging nettle has a history of medicinal use in various cultures.  A natural diuretic, stinging nettle contributes to weight loss because it sheds the body of excess water. Too much water loss results in dehydration, so caution should be taken before consuming stinging nettle. That said, when used in moderation, stinging nettle is reported to remove toxins from the body - thereby potentially enhancing the body's ability to shed unwanted pounds naturally. 
Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
Often scorned as a garden pest, dandelion has a history of medicinal use and has recently gained recognition as an herb for weight loss. The results of a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center indicate that dandelion is a naturally diuretic plant that stimulates the removal of excess water and salt from the kidneys.  However, fluid loss is not the same as fat loss and so while dandelion may result in short term loss, the body may gain it back when re-hydrated.
Aloe - Aloe barbadensis.
A popular home-remedy for burns and skin irritation, aloe (also called aloe vera) is also associated with weight loss. When used in combination with a diet plan and exercise regime, aloe is reportedly effective as a weight-loss aid. The plant is considered to be a gentle natural remedy, with fewer side effects than powerful laxatives such as senna. According to experts, aloe is most beneficial when consumed regularly as an integral part of a diet low in sugar and fat. 
Seaweed - Algae
Consumption of seaweed in the AM may increase your body's ability to maintain a healthy weight. According to research conducted in Holland, seaweed can increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite by imitating the effects felt by eating calorie-rich foods.  The weight- loss benefits of seaweed are attributed to algae, a fiber-rich substance present in most types of seaweed. The variety of seaweed most associated with weight loss is wakame (also called brown seaweed) which is used to enhance the flavor of traditional Asian dishes.  Results from a recent Japanese study indicate that fucoxanthin (an essential component in seaweed of the wakame variety) decreases fat accumulation and has the potential to be used pharmaceutically for the purpose of weight-loss. Fucoxanthin contributes to weight loss by directly affecting abdominal fat, which decreases chances of developing obesity and reduces unwanted fat in otherwise healthy individuals. 
Cinnamon - Cinnamomum cassia
Commonly used as a flavoring agent and spice, cinnamon is also recognized as a weight-loss aid. According to research conducted in Scandinavia and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon reduces insulin levels - thereby lowering blood sugar and prevents sugar-to-fat conversion.  By lowering insulin cinnamon also may help the body to feel full and stay satisfied throughout the day, the effect of which is a reduction in cravings and suppression of tendencies toward overeating. 
Garlic - Allium sativum
Consumed the world over as an important addition to many traditional foods, garlic is full of health benefits. One significant benefit of regular garlic consumption is weight loss--the active components of garlic have been found to activate the release of hormones that naturally increase the body's metabolic rate.  According to studies conducted by Israeli scientists, garlic may prevent fat accumulation and accelerates feelings of satisfaction from food (thus lessening the need for second and third helpings). Garlic has also been found to stimulate the central nervous system, the effect of which is an increase in physical activity which can hinder accumulation of excess fat.  For those who do not tolerate the taste of garlic, supplements (in capsule form) are available at most natural foods markets.
Supplemental Note - Ephedra - Ephedra sinica
Important - this herb is not considered safe in all uses. I included this note on Ephedra because it is often regarded as a "weight loss herb".
Ephedra has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine a treatment for asthma and allergies. Consumption of ephedra makes it easier to breathe, which may increase heart rate and energy levels. For these reasons, the plant is considered to have potential weight-loss benefits.
However, ephedra is potentially dangerous - and sale of ephedra has been highly regulated in recent years as a result of fatal overdose and misuse. Ephedra has been associated with dangerous increases in blood pressure (and in rare cases, heart attack, stroke, or death).  Other side effects include irregular heartbeat, heart attack, dehydration, hypothermia, vomiting, excessive sweating, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, trembling, dizziness, seizures, skin rashes, and itchy sensations on the scalp and skin.  Experts suggest that consumers consult their doctor before taking ephedra or ephedra-containing products.
 The Tea Guardian. "Quality Basics 1: Various Plants, Various Qualities". Retrieved 3 July 2012.
 Venables MC, Hulston CJ, Cox HR, Jeukendrup AE. Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 Mar;87(3):778-84.
 Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, et al. (December 1999). "Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70 (6): 1040–5.
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 Ephedra information from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
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 Rhubarb Root. Puristat Digestive Wellness Center. http://www.puristat.com/ingredients/rhubarbroot.aspx
 Sleger, Nathan. Weight Loss With Rhubarb. http://www.livestrong.com/article/330361-weight-loss-with-rhubarb/ Retrieved July 3, 2012.
 Stinging Nettle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinging_nettle#Medicinal_uses Retrieved July 3, 2012.
 How to Use Dandelion for Weight Loss. http://www.livestrong.com/article/241403-how-to-use-dandelion-for-weight-loss/ Retrieved July 3, 2012.
 Zisko, Dan. How to Use Dandelion for Weight Loss. http://www.livestrong.com/article/241403-how-to-use-dandelion-for-weight-loss/ Retrieved July 3, 2012.
 How to Use Aloe for Weight Loss. eHow Health. http://www.ehow.com/how_2119543_use-aloe-vera-weight-loss.html Retrieved July 3, 2012.
 Stott, Laura. Nature's gastric bands: From cinnamon to seaweed, the foods that naturally curb your appetite and help you shed pounds. Mail Online. 5 May 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1383610/Weightloss-From-cinnamon-seaweed-foods-naturally-curb-appetite-help-shed-pounds.html
 Brown seaweed contains promising fat ﬁghter, weight reducer. 11 Sept. 2006. http://phys.org/news77201733.html Retrieved July 3, 2012.
Article researched and created by Kelsey Wambold,
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