If you are looking for that "magic pill" that will bring about weight loss you may have looked into herbal weight loss pills that boast a "safe and natural" way to lose weight. Are those ways safe?
For many people, there is an automatic assumption that just because something is natural that it is safe. Snake venom occurs naturally, but I wouldn't suggest ingesting that. Peanuts are natural and good for most people, but for some it can bring about a severe allergic reaction requiring quick medical attention. Just because something boasts being "natural" doesn't mean that it is particularly safe. Even if it is safe for some people doesn't mean that it is safe for you.
What does this have to do with herbal weight loss?
Herbal products used for weight loss use a variety of ways which are supposed to help in losing weight. Most of these weight loss products that are considered herbal will either trick your brain into thinking you are full. Many more will use thermogenics to help speed up your metabolism.
What are some of the herbs used for weight loss that need to be avoided?
First, anything that is an herbal laxative should be avoided. Buck-thorn, cascara, rhubarb root, and senna are some of the ones you will see most often. The danger in using a laxative to lose weight is that it can bring about dehydration, constant cramping and diarrhea. It may also cause the muscles used to control bowel movements can become weakened to the point that you are no longer able to control them. You also stand a chance of becoming addicted to taking laxatives and you risk becoming bulimic.
Ephedra, also known as ma-huang, is probably the ingredient to look out for most. There is a related product known as herbal phen-phen (or fen-fen) that has ephedra as the main ingredient. This is known to raise blood pressure and increase your heart rate. It can also really mess with your central nervous system causing over stimulation. Some of the side-effects of ephedra or ma huang are seizures, stroke, heart palpitations, or heart attack. There are deaths that have been connected with the use of ephedra.
So what herbal products are there that are safe and can help in effective weight loss?
Three main ones are cayenne, green tea, and seaweed. Cayenne has capsaicin in it which safely helps stimulate digestion and helps increase your metabolism. Green tea is a safe stimulant that also gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C. Seaweed stimulates the thyroid which helps in weight loss. Do make sure that you check with your doctor if you have thyroid problems or are on thyroid medications before using it.
There are many other herbal weight loss products that are safe, but there are also many others which aren't. Just like the peanut, there may be some that are healthy for some people, but are dangerous to others. No matter which one you use, check with your doctor first to make sure that it is safe for you.