Over 50% of the population in North America is considered over weight. This has opened up a huge weight loss market. Products ranging from chemical to natural as well as exercise equipment have flooded the market. One of the hottest trends right now, is in the use of natural herbs to promote your weight loss goals. But do herbs work, and if they do how do they promote weight loss? And are they safe?
There are many different herbs on the market promoting weight loss benefits. And while the list is long, how they actually work falls into just a few categories. Many herbs work on the principles of laxative / diuretic effect, emotional effect or stimulant effect. While effective, there are reasons that these 3 approaches may not be safe.
Laxative / Diuretic Effect
The most common, and possibly the most effective use of herbs in weight loss, are its use as laxatives and diuretics. But, this is certainly not the safest.
Obviously, if you can help waste move out of your body quicker and remove liquids, you are going to lose weight. There are problems with this approach however. Use of laxatives can cause lasting damage to your digestive system. And, you might not be getting all of the nutrients that your body requires.
Herbs like St. Johns Wart focus on your reaction to stress. For example, some people eat when they are stressed out. These herbs help to regulate your reaction to this stress, so you can fight urges and build will power.
They can also help with problems such as emotional eating, or being too drained to exercise. You need to ensure you are taking these herbs in moderation. They can create stomach aches, sleepiness or itching. They can also cause eye irritation or sensitivity.
Herbal stimulants like ephedrine act like the drug "speed" to increase your energy and speed up your body functions. This can allow you to exercise harder and more frequently. It also speeds up your metabolism which in turn helps you to burn food faster.
Unfortunately, use of these herbs can be extremely dangerous. They have been shown to increase chances of heart disease, kidney problems and even high blood pressure. Herbs helping you deal with stress, with laxative effects or stimulants can help with your weight loss goals. But, there are some serious risks involved in their use.
Discuss diet, exercise and supplement options with your doctor or dietician. Depending on your goals and situation, they may recommend herbs with some of these affects, or less dangerous alternatives.
Be extremely careful when a product promises you very fast weight loss. Do your homework first. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Or, worse, it could be very dangerous.
In the end, the best weight loss plans come down to your diet and exercise. Some weight loss herbs can be of assistance, but only when used in moderation and as just a part of your overall weigh loss plan.