How do herbal products cause weight loss?
Most herbal weight loss products work by:
- Increasing urination and/or bowel movements
- Stimulating the central nervous system (speeds up the body’s mental and physical activity; caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant)
- Increasing serotonin levels, a chemical in the brain that creates a “feeling of fullness”
However, herbal preparations will not produce permanent weight loss. Also, herbal weight-loss products contain many ingredients, some of which have serious side effects and can lead to dangerous health situations (toxicities). Most people who sell herbal products have limited knowledge how these products work and wouldn’t be able to tell you about reported problems with the herbs or how they might affect the drugs you may be taking. Many herbal manufacturers also make “false claims” about the health benefits of these products. For all of these reasons and lack of proven health benefits, use of herbal products as weight-loss aids is not encouraged.
What are some of these over-the-counter and herbal products and what should I know about each of them?
Ephedrine. Ephedrine is a common ingredient in herbal dietary supplements used for weight loss. Ephedrine is also an ingredient in asthma medicine. In addition, it is used to make methamphetamine, more commonly called speed. In fact, there’s only a slight chemical difference between methamphetamine and ephedrine.
Ephedrine can slightly decrease your appetite, but no studies have shown it to be effective in weight loss. Ephedrine can be dangerous. It can cause high blood pressure, changes in heart rate, trouble sleeping (insomnia), nervousness, tremors, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and even death. Ephedrine can also interact with many prescription and over-the-counter medications. In the US, ephedra-containing dietary supplements are no longer available.
St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is an herbal – also called hypericum – that has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders, nerve pain, malaria, insect bites, wounds, burns, and other conditions. More recently, St. John’s wort has been studied to treat depression. Two large studies have shown it to be no more effective than placebo.
Not many studies have looked at the use of St. John’s wort as a weight-loss agent. If you are taking St. John’s wort, you should avoid eating tyramine-containing foods (i.e., aged meats, cheese, wines, etc). Also, do not take St. John’s wort if you are taking any of the following drugs: fluoxetine (Prozac®), sertraline (Zoloft®), paroxetine (Paxil®), venlafaxine (Effexor®), trazodone (Desyrel®), mirtazapine (Remeron®), nefazodone (Serzone®), meperidine (Demerol®), buspirone (Buspar®), and dextromethorphan (contained in various over-the-counter cold remedies). The use of St. John’s wort for weight loss is potentially very dangerous and it should not be used as a weight-loss product…..Read More
Source: Cleveland Clinic