Herbs like green tea, guggulu, bitter orange etc help in weight loss and fat burning. Ayurveda also mentions about weight loss herbs. Let us know how to use them.
You’ve probably noticed a proliferation of natural weight loss herb advertisements in magazines, on television, on the radio, and just about anywhere you look on the Internet.
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Are these natural herbal products for weight loss real? Can an herb miraculously boost your fat-burning metabolism?
Yes and no. While scientific proof is scarce, there are plenty of herbs which have been associated with increased natural fat-burning ability. These herbs and herbal compounds are used by bodybuilders and others for whom fat loss is a top priority.
So which fat-burning herbs do the pros recommend? Here are some suggestions from Natural Health Magazine and Bodybuilding.com:
Natural Weight Loss Herbs
#1: Green Tea Extract
The media has touted the health benefits of green tea, and studies support their claims.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men and women who consumed 390mg of green tea daily lost nearly twice as much weight as those who didn’t take green tea.
Green tea’s benefits come from its catechins, which are antioxidants that speed up the metabolism and make the body burn through fat stores faster.
It is also a mild diuretic and appetite suppressor, which makes green tea an all-around good choice for dieters.
According to Herbalist Pete Sharp
Green tea has always been known to have several health benefits, but who knew that it could contribute to weight loss as well?
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that green tea extract can increase metabolism and fat oxidation of the body. In theory, scientists believe that the weight loss benefits of green tea extracts are due to their caffeine content but the results of the study show otherwise as they discovered that green tea extracts have weight loss benefits beyond that of caffeine.
In their study, the researchers administered alone the same amount of caffeine as that in green tea extracts but found that it did not make any significant changes in the body’s overall energy expenditure. This led them to conclude that green tea extracts have ingredients in them that actively interact with each other, promoting increased metabolism and fat oxidation that lead to weight loss.
Further findings indicated that a certain compound found in green tea extracts might be the ingredient that causes weight loss. These green tea extract compounds called Flavonoids may alter the way the body uses norepinephrine, a hormone that monitors how calories are burned. When flavonoids interact with other green tea extract ingredients, more calories are burned thus contributing to weight loss.
Another ingredient that actively contributes to the weight loss benefits of green tea extracts is the compound catechin polyphenols. These compounds also interact with other green tea extract ingredients in order to promote weight loss by fat burning and thermogenesis (a process of losing energy by daytime heat).
The great thing about the weight loss benefit of green tea extracts is that it does not have any adverse side-effects. Unlike other herbal products like ephedra and prescription drugs for obesity, green tea extract does not increase the speed of heart rates or raise blood pressure. In this regard, green tea extract is an effective and safer alternative to other weight loss products which may cause harm to the user.
The study conducted by the University of Geneva on the weight loss benefit of green tea extract implicated that green tea extract can also help thyroid patients. According to dietitian Lynn Moss, M.S., R.D., green tea extract is a healthier choice for people with thyroid who may be too sensitive to stimulants. Green tea extract can promote weight loss by increasing metabolism without over stimulating the adrenal glands.
A common beverage all throughout Asia, green tea has recently gained popularity in the West. Further researches were conducted to identify other health benefits of green tea extracts aside from weight loss. It was found that certain green tea extract compounds can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and even ulcers.
Studies show that intake of green tea, or green tea extracts burns extra calories. Also, green tea with caffeine can increase fat burning by up to 40% thereby reducing fat.
This is one good option for those who want to lose weight. In a study done, people who took green tea were found to lose 2 to 3 times more weight than those who did not drink green tea.
These results show that green tea is a natural product for the treatment of obesity. Thus, it also makes for a healthier dietary option, not to mention the good effects that it has on the body as compared to caffeine. A cup of tea gives an immediate energy lift without the side effects of caffeine.
#2: Guggul or guggulu
Guggul has a funny name, but it has been an important part of traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for almost 3,000 years.
The plant produces a compound called guggulsterone, which is thought to rev up the liver’s fat metabolism and decrease blood cholesterol levels.
Studies of guggulsteron’s cholesterol-lowering ability are not promising; the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report which found little difference in blood cholesterol levels after eight weeks of guggulsterone therapy.
But proponents of the herb insist that eight weeks is not long enough for guggul to manifest its full capabilities. Also, guggul’s value as a weight loss supplement is backed up by scientific findings.
A study by the University of Nebraska found that subjects who exercised and took 750mg of guggul daily lost six times as much weight as those who exercised and took a placebo.
According to Jahnavee Sahasrabuddhe
“Guggulu, also known as Gum Gugal, Bdellium Gum is a resinous sap of the stem of Commiphora Mukul tree, normally found in Northeast Africa, Afghanistan and India. This is a thorny plant having a relatively small structure. It has been a part of the Ayurveda, the traditional Indian form of medicine for a long time. Guggulu is helpful in curing a wide variety of ailments, for instance obesity and rheumatism. It has therapeutic use in lowering cholesterol levels too. Let us find out the many fold benefits of Guggulu for our health.
Some health cures which Guggulu helps in are as follows:
1. Controls and lowers Cholesterol:
The Guggulsterones present in Guggulu cause a cholesterol and triglyceride lowering action in patients. It is also helpful in lowering LDL and VLDL cholesterol levels, commonly called the “bad” cholesterols, raising the HDL or “good” cholesterol on the other hand. Dietary restrictions with regards to fat intake are advisable for good results.
2. Guggulu lowers LDL cholesterol oxidation:
Guggulsterones also act as antioxidants, and inhibit the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and guard us against Atherosclerosis. Antioxidants present in Guggulsterones inhibit the development of plaques in blood vessels. According to a Feb. 2004 study from Atherosclerosis, it was concluded that Guggulu was helpful in restraining the LDL oxidation.
On the other hand, the inefficiency of Guggulu was also stated in the famous study published in August 2003 in JAMA. It states that Guggulsterones could possibly increase the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in some patients. But further research proved that Guggulu helped in lowering blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and insulin levels, thus favoring the use of Guggulu.
3. Guggulu is beneficial for Thyroid function:
Guggulu was found to be helpful in female mice as per a report by Phyto.Res.2005. It is useful in treatment of Hypothyroidism due to its safe and anti oxidative characteristics. Many Ayurveda practitioners use it as a combination with other herbs for Hypothyroidism.”
Who would have thought this common garden weed could be used to rev up your metabolism? Dandelion is thought to be a powerful liver cleanser which might speed up the rate at which the liver turns fat into energy.
Dandelions have long been used to fortify the liver and keep it burning fat at its highest level of efficiency. It is usually taken as a liquid tincture, but dandelion petals can also be eaten in salads.
Fans of dandelion and dandelion root also say it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and helps them metabolize carbohydrates faster.
According to Darcia Helle
“The dandelion is rich in nutrients that include vitamins A, B-complex, C, and D; iron; magnesium; potassium, manganese; zinc; copper; choline; and calcium.
The first known mention of the dandelion’s medicinal use is in the works of the Arabian physicians of the tenth and eleventh centuries, where it is mentioned under its Latin name Taraxacon as a type of wild Endive. In the thirteenth century, Welsh medicine alluded to the dandelion’s medicinal properties.
The root and leaves of the dandelion appear to have separate beneficial effects. The root has been used in traditional medicine worldwide as a treatment for a variety of liver and gallbladder ailments. The detoxifying effect of the dandelion root aids in the removal of waste from the body. Common uses of the root include treating illnesses believed to be caused by a sluggish or congestive liver, including constipation, headaches, fatigue, and various skin problems.
Due to the dandelion root’s effect on bile secretion, the German Commission E recommends that those with obstruction of the bile ducts or any serious disease of the gallbladder only use it with the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
Dandelion leaves are best known for their diuretic effect. Their potassium content makes dandelion leaves a safe alternative to the prescription diuretics that normally deplete the body’s store of potassium. Of all the greens available, dandelion leaves contain the highest content of vitamin A. Dandelion leaves may be eaten raw, used in a stir fry, or boiled.
Dandelion has no known drug interactions. However, caution should be used if combining dandelion with prescription diuretics.”
#4: Bitter Orange
Bitter orange is often advertised as an ephedra-free fat burner. The problem is that it contains substances similar to ephedrine, and can cause heart palpitations and increase the heart rate much like ephedra.
Few studies have been carried out on bitter orange. While the results of one small study did show a promising increase in the subjects’ metabolism, the sample group was small in size, leading some to question the accuracy of those results.
Still, bitter orange remains a popular fat-burner among dieters and athletes.
According to Nutritionist Sue Roberts
Most preparations of bitter orange are made from the concentrated extract of the orange peel, and contain 1 – 6% synephrine, but this may vary as much as 30% or more depending on what part of the plant and what type of processing method is used.
There is also evidence that the active ingredients in bitter orange may interfere with the body’s metabolism of certain drugs, resulting in toxicity.
Some animal studies have found bitter orange to be useful for weight loss, but so far human studies have not substantiated this. There seems to be some indication that bitter orange affects metabolism.
Bitter orange is a common ingredient in body building supplements, even though it is on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) banned supplements list.
Bottom Line: The risks associated with the use of bitter orange definitely outweigh any possible benefits. There is no evidence that bitter orange is any safer than ephedra. This one is better left alone!
Get a Doctor’s Advice
Steve Mathews says that “There are two important things to consider before adding herbal supplements to your diet and fitness plan.
First, none of these herbs is a miracle cure by itself. They only build on the results you get from a healthy diet and exercise.
Most importantly, consider your health. Herbs are natural, but they can have side effects just like manufactured meds.
Some fat-loss herbs have stimulant effects that can cause nervousness and increased blood pressure.
People with heart conditions should be extra vigilant when researching new dietary supplements. Always get your doctor’s advice before you start taking an herbal product.”