Despite all the mixed messages concerning herbal supplements, for some they can be strong allies in your fight against fat. Eating a healthy diet and exercising are still essential if you want to succeed but herbs can make the process of losing weight a bit easier. By helping you overcome common obstacles such as emotional eating, being too tired to exercise and always feeling hungry, these safe and effective herbs can help you reach your goals.

Weight Loss Herbs

Weight Loss Herbs Food — everywhere we look, there it is. On TV, magazines covers and ads, our kitchen … You get the idea! Even driving in your car can tempt your taste buds without any food in sight! The smells of a bakery, someone cooking out, a restaurant; all “out there” tempting us, luring us, making our mouths water and our stomachs grumble! Diet? Who can diet?

Okay, let’s settle down, we can. We just have to buck up our willpower and for some, leaning on herbs is now proving very helpful.

Herbal medicines offer tonics that shore up the nervous system and make it more resilient to everyday stress. This can give you the fortitude you need to resist temptation. What is more, these herbs boost your mood and we all know a bad mood can send us right to the goodies. An up-beat attitude has proven to be the best defense against indulgence.

As a rule, many fitness and nutrition experts do not recommend herbs, but there is a sincere argument in their favor: they are helping many people cope with dieting. Therefore, the following information is to aid you in deciding whether or not you wish to go this route. Keeps in mind however, as in all things, do not over-do any herb.

St. Johns Wort

Most often considered an herbal antidepressant, St. John’s Wort is also a tonic this strengthens the nervous system. It ensures a steady supply of the neuro-transmitters needed for proper function. It is the right choice if you tend to succumb to overeating when you are under stress. Take one of the following, three times a day:

  • Tincture (1.5): 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters)
  • Tincture: (1:1): 20 drops
  • Tablet dried herb: Two 500-mg tablets
  • Tablet standardized extract: tablets containing the equivalent of 0.3mg hypericin

Oat Straw

In the previous century, the Eclectic (holistic physicians who believed in treating the causes of illness rather than the symptoms) found Oat straw helped alcoholics, smokers and heroin addicts summon the will to say “no”. They also found it helped addicts overcome symptoms of withdrawal. If you are having a difficult time with willpower, find some oat straw. Take one of the following three times a day:

  1. Tincture (1:5): 1 teaspoon (5 mil)
  2. Tincture: (1:1) 20 drops

Do not use heat on a new injury (for example soaking in a hot bath, using heat lamps, hot water bottles, deep heat creams, etc). These will increase bleeding and make the problem worse.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Menopause-related mood swings and satanic hot flashes make dieting a nightmare and can lead to nerve-soothing sessions with chocolate. Black cohosh is an effective weapon when hormonal mood swings threaten your weight loss efforts. Caution: Do not use black cohosh if you are taking hormone replacement therapy. Take on of the following three times a day:

  1. Tincture (1:5) 1 teaspoon
  2. Tincture: (1:1) 20 drops
  3. Tablet; dried root: two 500mg tablets
  4. Tablet; dry extract: (4:1) 250mg
  5. Standardized dry extract: one tablet containing 1mg 27-deoxacteine

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps is an ancient Chinese remedy famous for increasing stamina and well being. Once an extremely rare and costly herb, contemporary production techniques have made this mushroom more affordable. Bodybuilders use it to power up workout sessions and endurance athletes sue it to keep going longer.
Take one dose half an hour before exercise: Powdered cordyceps: one 250mg capsule

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Long used in Asia, Siberian ginseng increases animals’ ability to work as well as stamina in humans. In fact, the Russian cosmonauts used it on the job to counter the fatigue associated with long hours and lack of sleep. Many studies with both long-tailed rats and human gym rats show this herb increases the capacity to do workouts or other physical activity.

  1. Take one of the following half-an-hour before exercising:
  2. Tincture (1:5): 1 teaspoon (5 mil)
  3. Tincture: (1:1) 20 drops
  4. Tablet; dried bark: Four 500mg tablets
  5. Tablet; standardized extract: One 100mg tablet standardized to contain 1% or more Eleutheroside E

Psyllium Seed (Plantago psyllium)

The seed of the Indian plantain has an almost pure fiber coating. When exposed to water, it swells to four times its original size. The psyllium seed has the added benefit of reducing cholesterol levels while giving you that pleasant, full feeling. Take a half-hour before eating:
Psyllium seeds: 1-teaspoon in 8-ounces cold water. If this makes you feel uncomfortably full, reduce the dose to 1/2 teaspoon.

Flaxseed (linum usitatissimum)

Used as a soothing bulking agent, the seed of the flax plant is covered with mucilage, which swells when it encounters water, much like the psyllium seed. Use whole seeds, which go through your body largely undigested and unabsorbed. Ground flaxseed, which can be absorbed, is rich in calories and thus, can defeat the purpose of weight loss. Take half an hour before lunch or dinner:
Whole flaxseed: 1 teaspoon in 8-ounces of cold water. If this makes you uncomfortable, reduce the dose to 1/2 teaspoon.

Cayenne (Capsicum minima)

The most famous thermogenic herb is undoubtedly the mouth-burning red pepper. Eating red pepper results in more than just a hot mouth — it makes you sweat and warms your fingers and toes. Red pepper also jump-starts your circulation and gets your blood rushing all over the place.
Take on of the following three times a day:

  1. Tincture: (1:5): 10 drops
  2. Tincture: (1:1) 2 drops
  3. Powdered cayenne pepper: 1/4 teaspoon mixed with a glass of cold water
  4. Tablet: One 250mg tablet

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger was once consumed in huge quantities in Britain, not because of the taste, but because it helped people survive the cold and damp climate. This made the lack of central heating a little more bearable.
Take on of the following three times a day:

  1. Tincture: (1:5): 1 teaspoon (5 mil)
  2. Tincture: (1:1) 20 drops
  3. Root tablets: Two 500mg tablets
  4. Powdered dried root: 1/2 teaspoon in a cup of boiling water
  5. Fresh root: 1 teaspoon grated into a cup of boiling water

Herbs to Avoid

Their claims usually sounds too good to be true — and they are. Even worse, these herbal weight-loss products often contain dangerous, counterproductive, or useless ingredients. Save your money.

Herbal Laxatives:

Frequently, the additions of laxative herbs are in diet products because they empty the bowel and temporarily make the stomach look flatter. However, they are potentially dangerous. They contain compounds that stimulate the bowel to evacuate its contents. Many experts believe that, with regular use, these herbs can damage the nerves that serve the bowel, leading to chronic constipation. Avoid diet products containing aloe, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, rhubarb, senna or yellow dock.

Herbal Stimulants:

When you reduce your calorie intake, you sometimes feel tired and sluggish. To combat this, some manufacturers add herbal “speed” to diet products. This causes a stimulant high, followed by a stimulant low. In fact, you will feel lower than you did before you took the stimulant and could set yourself up for a comfort-eating session. In addition, if you have heart disease, kidney problems, or high blood pressure, or if you take certain medications for depression or anxiety, these herbs can be downright dangerous. Avoid products containing ephedra (ma huang), guarana, betel, ate, cola or caffeine.

Multi-herb products:

These are the “kitchen sink” supplements containing as many as 20 herbs in a tablet or capsule. It is hard enough to get an active dose of one herb into a single tablet or capsule, much less 20 active doses of 20 different herbs. Bottom line: They do not work. Avoid diet products containing many different herbs.

Herbal Diuretics

When you urinate, you lose water. That is the justification behind adding herbal diuretics to weight loss products. Though generally harmless (unless you suffer from kidney disease) these products will not help you lose an ounce of fat. Avoid diet supplements containing corn silk, buchu, dandelion tops or couch grass.