What are herbal diet supplements?
Whether it's pills or teas, herbal diet products are everywhere. And each one boasts the ability to help you lose weight naturally. But the truth is, natural doesn't always mean safe, and the claims of these herbal diet aids often don't have any real weight. Any guarantees that an herbal diet product will increase your metabolism
, burn fat faster, or decrease your appetite usually aren't true. back to top
How do herbal diet supplements work?
Most herbal diet products fall into one of two categories. The first type, often found in pill form, contains stimulants
that supposedly help you feel less hungry, increase your metabolism
, and burn fat faster. The other major type, called "dieter's tea," works as a laxative
to make your body get rid of large amounts of fluid. This loss of fluid may make you think you have lost weight, when really all you have lost is water. back to top
Herbal diet supplements and stimulants have various health risks and side effects. If you drink caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or soda, with appetite suppressants
, you could become nervous, have trouble sleeping, get headaches, or develop high blood pressure. Taking more than the recommended dosage of these products can cause more serious conditions, such as heart attack, stroke
, and even death.
and "diet teas" can be addictive. They cause the muscles of your intestines to lose the ability to function without them. These laxatives also cause your body to lose water, which lowers your levels of important minerals such as potassium. Potassium loss can cause severe medical problems.
The use of herbs is not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding except under the guidance of a health professional. back to top
What herbs are used in herbal diet supplements?
Diet pills and other products often contain ephedra
, also called ma huang.
Ephedra contains ephedrine, a nervous system stimulant. Diet pills often contain both caffeine and ephedra. However, pairing ephedrine and caffeine has been shown to cause liver damage and kidney damage, as well as high blood pressure.
is one of the most popular and reliable stimulant laxatives
found in dieter's teas. However, people can become dependent on laxatives if they take them too often, meaning that they won't be able to move their bowels normally without them. It may also cause severe dehydration
. Laxatives such as senna have been found to cause diarrhea, vomiting, chronic constipation
, and even death. The FDA has received reports of the deaths of four young women in which dieter's teas may have played a part. back to top
Do any herbs work for weight loss?
may be one herb that does hold some promise for weight loss, although more studies are needed. In one recent study, green tea was shown to burn fat effectively without any side effects. You can buy green tea as loose tea or teabags, or as pills or capsules in health food stores. But bear in mind that although research is promising, we still don't know whether people who take a green-tea extract will really lose weight. In the meantime, enjoying a cup of green tea is a health option with no known downsides. back to top