Herbs for weight loss…is this a miracle cure?
As a nutritionist, the term “weight loss” actually makes me cringe a little. Why?
Many think that you need to lose weight to be healthy…in actuality, it’s better to get healthy to lose weight. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle and healing your gut and digestion will naturally help your weight stabilize. And most of the time, it can be what you take away that may have a more profound effect rather than what you “take.”
That being said, the way I see herbal medicine is to help speed up the process and support our dietary efforts to reach our health goals. When it comes to weight loss, you need to be able to make healthy decisions, which can rely a lot on your energy level, blood sugar, stress levels, and cravings. And here’s where the herbs come in…
5 Herbs for Weight Loss & Healthy Metabolism
Gymnema is an herb found around the world and has been long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. In Sanskrit, it translates to “destroyer of sugar.” The leaves contain a compound that temporarily interfere with the ability to taste sweetness and the absorption of sugars in the intestine.
Research and evidence suggest that gymnema can reduce cravings for sweets, reduce sugar absorption during digestion, and promote normal blood sugar levels as well as acting as an appetite suppressant. It has been shown to have positive effects on diabetes in human studies and was effective at lowering blood sugar and levels of lipids or fats in the bloodstream of laboratory rats.
2. Green Tea
By now green tea is pretty well known and has been long used for its antioxidant qualities and giving a bit of an energy boost. If you’ve ever noticed that you don’t get quite the same “coffee jitters” when you drink green tea, it’s because it contains an amino acid (L-theanine) that has a natural anti-anxiety effect, so you have more balanced energy.
For weight loss, it’s beneficial in that it increases the metabolism through thermogenesis (increase in body temperature). It also helps to slightly aid in the digestion of protein and fat. It is also a superstar for cardiovascular health as it helps to lower blood pressure and has a positive effect on cholesterol.
Schizandra is an awesome little berry with a fun little name. It’s a premier adaptogen which means it has the effect of bringing your body into homeostasis (balance). In Chinese medicine it is said to have all 5 flavors which is believed to make you feel more satiated. It’s extremely beneficial for digestion (which is important for any weight loss goals) as it stimulates digestive enzymes (to break down fat and protein).
This berry is a great companion for your workouts as it increases your body’s ability to use glycogen stored in the liver, helps you “catch your breath” faster, and helps you process lactic acid buildup faster. It also aids in weight loss as it helps to strengthen the adrenal cortex — so it balances out your stress hormones. In addition, it’s been shown to help regulate blood sugar swings. (Are you sold yet?)
4. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Another powerful adaptogen, tulsi is also an ancienty Ayurvedic herb that’s related to one of our favorite culinary herbs (basil).
Tulsi is beneficial for weight loss as it has positive effect on cortisol levels which contribute to excess fat. Its positive effect on the adrenals may also help control cravings that come from unbalanced stress hormones.
From one study:
Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties.
Guayusa is the dried leaves and stems of a South American rainforest holly. Indigenous hunters often drank guayusa to sharpen their instincts and refer to it as the “Night Watchman” since it helps them stay awake and alert all night. It contains less caffeine than coffee, but more than green tea. However, it also contains L-theanine (like green tea) so it’s a more balanced energy that can help fuel you for your workouts.
Besides providing energy and alertness, Guayusa is also incredibly rich in polyphenols (antioxidants), has a ton of chlorogenic acids (known for weight loss and benefits to the heart), and has a thermogenesis effect which helps improve fat metabolism.
How to Take Herbs for Weight Loss & Healthy Metabolism
As with most herbs, capsules are not extremely effective. For best results, try a tincture (dropper bottle) or infusion (tea) to extract all of the beneficial constituents and absorb them immediately.
For tinctures, I recommend Gaia or Herb Pharm brands, which are usually carried at your local health food store.
For tea, you can buy many herbs at your local herb shop or in bulk online at MountainRoseHerbs.com. Many of these herbs are also on Amazon, but be aware of their source and quality.
Also, since tea is kinda my thing…I’ve created a formula with all those herbs listed above and more, check it out: