Herbs for Metabolism and Weight Loss

Dana Myatt, N.D.

Definition: Overweight is body fat in excess often pounds above lean body mass index. Obesity is defined as 20% excess fat above lean body mass index. (BMI).1

Scope of the Problem: An estimated 34% of American adults are overweight with 25% being fully obese.2 more recent studies have suggested that as many as 75% of the adult population is at least some degree above their ideal body mass index.

Risk; Excess body fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type II diabetes, stroke (cerebrovascalar accident)3, various cancers (including prostate, all gynecological cancers4 5, gallbladder and colon cancer), benign prostatic hypertrophy6, cholelithiasis, infertility, arthritis, degenerative joint disease7, and impaired immune function.8 At only ten pounds above lean body mass index, most of these risks are increased, and the risk increases with increasing body fat.9 Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. This makes overweight/obesity the single biggest controllable risk factor for disease, and offers a major opportunity for disease prevention and risk intervention.

1Merkow R., Fletcher A. editors. The Merck Manual. 1992; 984
2Davis DL, et al. Decreasing cardiovascular disease and increasing cancer among whites in the United States from 1973 through 1987. JAMA 1994; 271:431-7
3Willett WC, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Weight, weight changes, and coronary heart disease in women. JAMA 1995; 273:461-5
4Hunter DJ, Hankinson S£, Colditz GA, et al. Very low fat diets and risk of breast cancer. Am J Epidemiol 1996; 143
5Willett WC, et al. Dietary fat and fiber hi Relation to Risk of Breast Cancer. JAMA 1992; 268:2037-44.
6Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Chute CG, et al. Obesity and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am J Epidemiol 1994; 140:989-1002.
7Eichner ER. Infection, immunity, and exercise: What to tell patients. Physician Sports Medicine 1993;21:125-33.
8Palmblad J, Hallberg D, and Rossner S. Obesity, plasma lipids and polymorphonuclear (PMN) granulocyte functions. Scand JHeamatol 1977;19:293-303.
9Manson JE, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, et al. Body weight and mortality among women. NEngUMed 1995; 333:677-85.

Action of Herbs for Overweight/Obesity

antioxidants: herbs that prevent free radical damage and control increased oxidative stress created by fat loss.

aperient: mild laxatives.

carminatives: herbs that help the body expel gas from the stomach, small intestines, or colon.

diuretic: herbs that stimulate the flow of urine

fiber: indigestible plant cell walls that have a variety of effects including increased fecal weight and size, delayed gastric emptying, unproved bowel transit time, cholesterol lowering and satiety.

nutritives: herbs that nourish. They usually have a high mineral content.

psychotropics: herbs used to affect mood.

stimulants: herbs that quicken functional action. They are usually, but not always, thermogenic.

thermogenics: herbs that increase basal metabolic rate. (BMR).

tonics: herbs that tone a physical system or function.

An Extremely Concise Materia Medica

Ephedra ( Ephedra sinica, E. vulgaris, E. nevadensis, E. antisyphihtica & other species) action: stimulant, thermogenic.

Kola ( Cola nitida, C. vera, C. accuminata) action: stimulant, tkermogemc.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) action: tonic to connective tissue via stimulation of glycosaminoglycan synthesis.1

Aesculus (Aesculus hippocastanum) action: venous tonic.2

i^ucus (Fucus vesiculosus) action: nutritive, esp. to thyroid gland due to high iodine content.

Silybum (silybum marianum) action: antioxidant. liver tonic and stimulant.

Taraxacum (Taraxacum officinale) action: aperient, nutritive, dieuretic.

Tea (Camellia sinesis) action: autioxidant, stimulant, thermogenic, lowers cholesterol.3

Bromelain (Ananas comosus) action: appetite inhibition and enhanced fat excretion.4

Coffee (Coffea arabica) caffeine/rnethylxanthine containing herbs action: stimulant, thermogenic.

Fiber (includes guar gum,psyllium, oat bran, wheat bran, pectin, vegetable fiber) action: satiety, decreases absorbed calories, stabilizes blood sugar levels, improves bowel transit time, aids excretion of cholesterol.5 6

Fructose action: greater thermogenesis as compared to glucose.7 8

Essential Fatty Acids: action: normalizes brown fat activity.910

Urtica (Urtica dioica) action: dieuretic, clears tissue acids, nutritive.

Mate (Ilex paraguayensis) action: stimulant, thermogenic.

Papaya ( Carica papaya) action: digestant.

Hypericum (Hypericumperforatum) action: psychotrophic.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum, P. hortense, P. sativum) action: dieuretic, nutritive, carminative.

l.Pointel, JP, Boccalon H, Cloarec M, et al. Titrated extract of centella asiatica (TECA) in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Angiology 1987; 46-50
2.Aniioui F, Mauri A, Marincola F, and Kesele L.F. Venotonic activity of escin on the liurnan saphenous vein. Arzneim-Forsch 1979; 29:672-5.
3.Kouo S., et al. Green tea consumption and serum lipid profiles: a cross-sectional study in northern Kyushu, Japan. PrevMed 1992; 21;526-31.
4.Taussig S,, Batkin S. Broinelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas coruosus) and its clinical application. JEthnopharm 1988; 22: 191-203.
S.Krotkiewski M. effect of guar on body weight, hunger ratings and metabolism in obese subjects. Clinical Science 1984; 66: 329-336.
6.Glore SR, et al, Soluable fiber and serum lipids: A literature review. J Am Diet Assoc 1994; 94: 425-36.
7.Schwarz JM, et al. Thermogenesis in men and women induced by fructose vs glucose added to a meal. Am J Clin Nutr 1989; 49: 667-74.
8. Macdonald I. differences in dietary-induced thermogenesis following the ingestion of various carbohydrates. Ann Nutr Metab 1984; 28:226-30.
9.Garcia CM, et al. Gamma iinoleiiic acid causes weight loss and lower blood pressure in overweight patients with family history of obesity. SwedJBiol Med 1986; 4:8-11.