Beat The Christmas Bulge With These Weight-Reducing Herbs

| December 11, 2014

At this time of year, it can be particularly difficult to keep our weight under control. The cold, dark and wet days make us crave more filling and comforting foods while the round of parties and seasonal meals means that keeping to a low-GL diet can be a real challenge. Of course, we should still do our best to eat sensibly and get plenty of exercise, but it is good to know that there are some specific herbal supplements that really can help with weight control.

Losing a bit of weight doesn’t just make you look and feel better – it can have a big impact on your blood sugar control and your risk of developing heart disease. One study found that losing just two to five per cent of body weight (for instance 1.6 to 4 kg if your starting weight is 80 kg) led to clinically significant improvements in blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.1 Losing five to ten per cent of body weight produced clinically relevant reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, too.

A low-GL diet, which excludes foods that cause rapid rises in blood sugar, is not only more effective than a low-fat diet for weight control but it also leads to greater improvements in blood sugar control and heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.2 Regular exercise is also important for people with this condition, as a recent study found that the risk of cardiovascular complications in older people with type 2 diabetes is directly related to how often, and for how long, they engage in physical activity.3 But as I said, keeping to the right diet and exercise regime may not be easy right now – and this is where herbal supplements can help.

Six herbs with weight loss (and other) benefits

Sorting out the science from the marketing hype can be difficult when it comes to herbs for weight control, with so many products promising miraculous results. Here are some that have proved their worth in properly-conducted clinical trials.

African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is a tree native to West Africa. Extracts of its seeds have been used to reduce cholesterol levels and to help control diabetes. Research suggests it may also reduce fat storage and break down body fat.

Veldt grape (Cissus quadrangularis) has a long history of traditional use, particularly in India. It has recently been shown to aid weight reduction and improve symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome in obese patients.

  • In a ten-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 72 obese or overweight participants, a product containing I. gabonensis and C. quadrangularis produced very significant reductions in body weight, body fat, waist size, total plasma cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and fasting blood glucose level.4

East Indian globe thistle (Sphaeranthus indicus) is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health problems and has been shown in animal studies to reduce body weight, blood fats and the unhealthy kinds of cholesterol.

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical tree from Southeast Asia whose fruit has been used for centuries for treating digestive problems and even dysentery. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

  • In a clinical trial, 60 obese adults were given a combination of S. indicus and G. mangostana extracts or placebo for eight weeks.5 Those receiving the herbal treatment had statistically significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist size and cholesterol and triglyceride levels, compared with the placebo group.

Malabar tamarind (Garcinia cambogia) is a botanical relative of mangosteen and shares many of its beneficial properties. It has become popular as a supplement for weight control in recent years.

Norwegian kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum)contains a unique polysaccharide compound (a complex kind of sugar) called fucoidan, which has anti-inflammatory, anticancer and heart health properties.

  • A recent study gave healthy volunteers a product containing G. cambogia, A. nodosum and L-carnitine, or a placebo, for one week.6 Those receiving the active treatment had less hunger between meals and felt full sooner after eating, so it could help people to reduce their appetite and lose weight.

The festive season isn’t just a time when we tend to put on some extra weight; it can also be hard on the digestive system. Rich meals, more frequent and none-too-healthy snacks and (if you indulge) more alcohol than normal can all leave you with indigestion, wind pain and nausea. Here again some healing herbs can prevent problems or come to the rescue, as I shall explain in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


  1. Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, Safford M, Knowler WC, Bertoni AG, Hill JO, Brancati FL, Peters A, Wagenknecht L. Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2011; 34(7):1481-1486.
  2. Ajala O, English P, Pinkney J. Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 97(3):505-516.
  3. Zethelius B, Gudbjornsdottir S, Eliasson B, Eeg-Olofsson K, Cederholm J. Level of physical activity associated with risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality in patients with type-2 diabetes: report from the Swedish National Diabetes Register. Eur J Prevent Cardiol. 2014; 21(2):244-251.
  4. Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Momo CN, Agbor GA, Sobgui CS. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Lipids Health Dis. 2008; 7:12.
  5. Stern JS, Peerson J, Mishra AT, Sadasiva Rao MV, Rajeswari KP. Efficacy and tolerability of a novel herbal formulation for weight management. Obesity. 2013; 21:921-927.
  6. Mayer MA, Finlayson G, Fischman D, de Paz C, Telleriarte MR, Ferrero AJ, Bobillo C, Fernández BE. Evaluation of the satiating properties of a nutraceutical product containing Garcinia cambogia and Ascophyllum nodosum extracts in healthy volunteers. Food Funct. 2014; 5(4):773-779.
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Category: Obesity and Weight Loss

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