Herbs have been used for centuries to facilitate weight loss. The issue is that some herbs used for weight loss are better for you than others.
Some herbs trick your body into thinking your body is full (like hoodia which is technically a plant but is commonly found in the herbal section of your health food store.)
Other herbs are classified as being thermogenic meaning that they accelerate body functions such as digestion, heart rate and breathing.
These herbs usually contain a great deal of natural caffeine and include green tea, nettle and dandelion.
The herbs that are least effective in the long run are those that are classified as diuretics.
Green tea and dandelion are also part of this group along with buchu, birchbark and uva ursi. These herbs can address the problem of water retention but as soon as you stop taking them you gain the weight back when your body rehydrates itself.
There are some herbs that you should avoid taking because they can cause serious side effects and even death. They also come with serious warnings from the Food and Drug administration.
Herbal Laxatives such as cascara sagrada, buckthorn, aloe, rhubarb root and senna.
Herbal Laxatives – Usually sold as a diet tea, cascara, senna, buckthorn, aloe and rhubarb root. These herbs cause diarrhea and cramping and over the long term can cause your intestinal muscles to lose their ability to move food through the colon on their own.
Ephedra – Also known as ma huang or Herbal Phen Phen this drug causes an overstimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in blood pressure and an elevated heart rate.
The FDA warns of scores of side effects to using this herb including heart murmurs, heart palpitations, heart attack, dehydration, seizures, chest pain, stroke, dissociation, anxiety, depression, mood swings, impulsivity, distractibility and psychosis.
Safer choices include:
Cayenne – This is a mild thermogenic herb that is used to spice Indian and Mexican food. It contains an ingredient called capsaicin that aids in digestion and causes a mild increase in the rate of metabolism.
Green Tea – The main weight loss component in green tea is caffeine. It acts on the body in much the same way as a cup o coffee except that it also contains antioxidants and Vitamin C. It is best drunk as a tea as you can adjust how stimulating you want it to be by leaving the teabag in the cup for shorter or longer times.
Seaweed – A good source of trace minerals such as chromium and iodine, seaweed is gently stimulating to a lazy thyroid that might be responsible for a slowdown in metabolism. You can buy these as kelp capsules or enjoy eating it with sushi.
Keep in mind that before you take any kind of herb it is very important for you to talk with your doctor first. Some conditions simply don’t respond well to event he safest of herbs for weight loss. For instance using cayenne may not be ideal for you if you have acid reflux, green tea is not great for anxiety disorders and seaweed can be downright lethal for someone who suffers from hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease.
Always check with your doctor first before you take anything that guarantees “natural weight loss” using herbs as there are a lot of snake oil salesman in the dieting business selling unhealthy options as new age miracles.