Once you make a choice to lose weight and improve your health, you will likely think about natural ways to make your journey a little bit easier. This will ensure you’ll reach your goal in the healthiest manner possible, and if you treat your body right, it will treat you right!
This is where herbs come in. Certain cultures have been using herbs for thousands of years as medication or as a supplement to help with a whole range of things from stimulating metabolism to reducing appetite.
Which herbs out there offer the best weight-loss results for the body? Here’s a look at some favorites and the ways they can help you. You can use these herbs to make tea, add them to recipes or take them in supplement form. If you wish to take them as a supplement, you can get them from a health food store, the recommended dosage is typically on the bottle.
Gurmar Leaves (gymnema sylvestra)
This herb has a long history of use in treating obesity in Ayurvedic medicine. It works as a diuretic to flush out excess water and toxins and also removes toxins with its astringent effects. Gurmar leaves work as a digestive stimulant and can even temporarily block your ability to taste sweetness, helping you to combat your sweet tooth (2).
Most people are familiar with ginseng because it is one of the most commonly used herbs throughout the world and has gained a lot of popularity of late for its energy- increasing properties. However, it can be very beneficial when trying to lose weight. Ginseng has been studied in the Journal of Diabetes and shown to boost energy levels, speed metabolism, and increase weight loss and insulin sensitivity (3). This is because it acts as a stimulant and a thermogenic.
Oregano is an antioxidant powerhouse and is also an effective weight loss herb. It helps to keep your digestive system healthy and working as it should, and helps to flush excess waste out of the body, as well as increase serotonin levels (4).
All of these come together to promote weight loss and prevent issues like bloating and constipation. The increased serotonin levels will improve your mood, reducing the risk of emotional eating. Increasing serotonin may also be beneficial in reducing your appetite overall.
Sage is a very popular herb for use in cooking because it works in so many different dishes. Sage is effective in lowering blood sugar levels, decreasing blood pressure and reducing anxiety (5, 6). Since all of these issues can lead to weight gain, sage not only promotes weight loss, but it promotes good overall health too.
Sage’s stress-busting effects will also help to keep your cortisol levels healthy. High cortisol levels lead to weight gain – mostly around the abdominal area – so it is important to keep this hormone in check to be at a healthy weight.
Peppermint is very popular for alleviating nausea and other minor digestive complaints, but it can also support weight loss. It helps to regulate your digestive system and flush out excess waste and water, as well as helping to suppress your appetite (7).
Guggul is an herb that many people are not familiar with because of how old it is. However, there are modern studies that support the claims that this herb is beneficial in improving the health of your thyroid and ensuring that your metabolism is functioning at an optimal rate (8). It does this without any stimulant effects, so is ideal for those who need a metabolism boost, but cannot tolerate stimulants.
Milk thistle is becoming more popular in recent years for its cleansing effects. It is particularly useful for cleansing and detoxifying the liver so that this organ can function at an optimal level (9). When your liver is not burdened with excessive toxins, it can focus on keeping your metabolism revved up so that you can burn calories and lose weight.
Most people see dandelion as a pesky weed that muddles their lawn, but it is also a very effective cleanser, helping to flush toxins and excess waste from your body, promoting weight loss. It also regulates the blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and alkalizes the body (10, 11). All parts of this weed are edible and produce these beneficial effects, plus the flowerheads make an excellent talking point when you serve them in a salad for dinner guests!
Yerba Mate is a very popular herb, and many people replace their morning coffee with it, thanks to its stimulant properties. It gives you energy and increases your metabolism, as well as being full of different antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and amino acids (12)
A much-loved spice, cinnamon is great for regulating blood sugar levels. According to the research done at Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, cinnamon significantly reduced blood sugar levels, as well as triglycerides, and LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in people with Type 2 Diabetes (13).
More and more supplements are utilizing cayenne in their formulas and for good reason – cayenne is a great source of Vitamins A, B & C. Cayenne also contains capsaicin which is what gives pepper its heat, and it has been found to aid the body in digesting and utilizing proteins, as well as promoting weight loss through a process called thermogenesis (1).
According to the American Chemical Society, cayenne has also been found to shrink fat tissue and lower blood fat levels (14). Further, cayenne promotes the production of anti-inflammatory compounds that start to coat the gut, helping you to heal internally, which is great if you suffer from digestive issues (15).
A study revealed how cumin could drastically increase weight-loss by studying two groups of people on the same calorie-reduced diet, but giving three grams of cumin daily to one of those groups.
After three months, the cumin group members lost on average almost 50 percent more weight than the control group and decreased their body fat percentage by three times the control group’s loss. This may be down to its heat, which could temporarily increase metabolic rate (16).
Modern research also shows that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, acids, and bile necessary for proper digestion. It also relieves gas and offers relief for IBS symptoms (17).
- Capsaicin: 7 Powerful Health Benefits of the Stuff that Makes Peppers HOT. Six- wise.com. 2016. Available at: http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/03/29/capsa– icin-7-powerful-health-benefits-of-the-stuff-that-makes-peppers-hot-004.htm. Ac- cessed August 31, 2016.
- GYMNEMA: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD. Webmd. com. 2016. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredient-mono-841 gymnema.aspx?activeingredientid=841&activeingredientname=gymne- ma. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Attele A, Zhou Y, Xie J et al. Antidiabetic Effects of Panax ginseng Berry Extract and the Identification of an Effective Component. Diabetes. 2002;51(6):1851-1858. Available at: http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/51/6/1851. Accessed Au- gust 31, 2016.
- Mechan AO e. Monoamine reuptake inhibition and mood-enhancing potential of a specified oregano extract. – PubMed – NCB Ncbinlmnih.gov. 2016. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21205415. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Health Benefits of Sage. Organicfnet. 2016. Available at: https://www.organic-facts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/sage.html. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Sage Eases Anxiety and Boosts Alertne Prevention. 2011. Available at: http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/sage-natural-remedy-ease-anxiety. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Dray T. Peppermint Oil for Weight L LIVESTRONG.COM. 2016. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/475088-peppermint-oil-for-weight-loss/. Ac- cessed August 31, 2016.
- Pulugurtha S. The Effects of Guggul on Thyroid Function | LIVESTRONG.CO LIVESTRONGCOM. 2016. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/460531- the-effects-of-guggul-on-thyroid-function/. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- The Advantages of Milk Thistle. LIVESTRONG.CO 2016. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/111768-advantages-milk-thistle/. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Daniels C. Dandelion Root to Remove To LIVESTRONG.COM. 2016. Avail- able at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/474199-dandelion-root-to-remove-tox-ins/. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- High Alkaline Herbs. Livestrong.com. 2016. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/467625-high-alkaline-herbs. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- 10 Health Benefits of Yerba Maté Tea (Better Than Coffee). Be Brain Fit. 2016. Available at: https://bebrainfit.com/yerba-mate-benefits/. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Khan A, Safdar M, Khan M, Khattak K, Anderson R. Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabete Diabetes Care. 2003;26(12):3215-3218. Available at: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- New evidence that chili pepper ingredient fights fat – American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society. 2016. Available at: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2010/acs-presspac-july-21-2010/new-evidence-that-chili-pep-per-ingredient-fights-fat. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Lind Cayenne Pepper and Inflammation. LIVESTRONG.COM. 2016. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/413288-cayenne-pepper-and-inflammation. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Zare R e. Effect of cumin powder on body composition and lipid profile in over- weight and obese women. – PubMed – NCB Ncbinlmnih.gov. 2016. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25456022. Accessed August 31, 2016.
- Cumin Essential Oil Offers Relief for IBS in Clinical Study. Greenmedinfo.com. 2016. Available at: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/cumin-essential-oil-of-fers-relief-ibs-clinical-study. Accessed August 31, 2016.