Herbal Medicines Are Not Sufficient for Weight Loss, According to New Research

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If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably tried all sorts of diet pills and weight-loss teas that promise incredible results.

Slimming teas are one of the most notorious weight-loss options that many try but soon end up realizing that these so-called natural remedies don't really work. Or at least not the way they hoped.

Herbal weight loss supplements are always a source for big controversy, especially since there hasn't been sufficient scientific backing to contradict them (or prove them).

However, researchers from the University of Sydney came out with a global review of herbal weight loss treatments and gave a quite clear answer: there's no evidence to prove that herbal weight loss products work.

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The review analyzed 54 randomized controlled trials in over 4000 participants, comparing herbal medicines to placebos in order to see the effects clearly. According to the research team, those on herbal medicines lost weight less than 2.5 kilograms in comparison to those on a placebo which means that since the difference was so small, there's really no reason to burn your money on expensive supplements since, in the end, they won't make a big difference in your weight loss efforts.

“Many studies had poor research methods or reporting and even though most supplements appear safe for short-term consumption, they are expensive and are not going to provide a weight loss that is clinically meaningful,” said Dr. Nick Fuller, the senior author.

Essentially, the findings of this review confirm that those stories you've heard about people losing 20 kilograms after drinking that magical slimming tea for a few months are nothing more than hogwash.

The problem with herbal weight loss supplements

Herbal weight loss supplements come in many different forms, starting from pills and powders and ending with teas. Due to great marketing tactics and ease of use, many people hope to shed those extra pounds thanks to herbal alternatives. After all, we all know there's immense power in plants, so it kind of makes sense to put your hopes in herbal medicines.

There's one issue with herbal supplements though: lack of scientific proof of their efficiency together with lack of strong regulation. Since herbal weight loss products fall into the dietary supplements category, they don't require approval from the FDA before putting their products on the shelves. FDA does, indeed, monitor dietary supplements but understandably, they might not reach every supplement out there as quickly as needed.

As a result, dietary supplements have quite a free range. Combined with strong marketing that targets your psychology at just the right angles, you have a combination that's hard to resist, especially if you're struggling with weight loss.

The manufacturer might easily claim how their tea is great for weight loss thanks to the metabolism-boosting effect if the active ingredient could have such effect (e.g. it includes caffeine, castor oil, buckthorn or something else that's known to act as a laxative). Technically, the claim is correct but it doesn't necessarily mean that supplement is good for you.

In reality, these supplements are cleverly marketed products that the manufacturer stands to profit from greatly. In the end, it's business.

How to consume herbal supplements safely

Herbal supplements continue gaining strength in the United States. According to a market report by herbalgram.org, herbal supplement sales grew by about 9.4% in 2018 as consumers spent more than 8 billion dollars on herbal supplements.

As popularity grows, so do health concerns. While herbal weight loss products might work for some people and there's some regulation in place, it doesn't necessarily mean that all products are safe for every consumer.

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Here are a few things you should always keep in mind before spending your money on herbal supplements.

  1. Consult your doctor first. Whether you have a specific medical condition that might interfere with supplements or you're perfectly healthy, it's always the best to ask your doctor or pharmacist about a certain supplement. They can analyze the product more closely and advise you on whether it's reasonable to use that supplement in your daily diet or not. Don't just blindly follow ads you've seen on the internet – even if they sound reasonable.
  2. Research the manufacturer. If you haven't heard about the manufacturer, do a bit of background search to see what other users say about the products. Though you should still consider forums and commentaries with a grain of salt, many negative reviews might indicate some troubles with the manufacturer.
  3. Never mix together several supplements. Even if they are all-natural, regular plants might have adverse effects too if mixed together. Only take one supplement at a time and if it doesn't seem to do the trick, stop using it.
  4. Don't try to speed things up with a higher dosage. The most dangerous thing you could do is to up the dosage. Never steer away from the recommended intake – stick to the instructions.
  5. Check FDA website regularly. FDA monitors dietary supplements and they warn consumers if they find products with adverse effects. When choosing your supplements, check the FDA website for any notes about that particular product/manufacturer.

And most importantly: before opting for herbal supplements, think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with the weight loss supplement? Do you really need it? As the new research proves, it's quite possible you won't really lose much weight while consuming the supplements. Is your money really well spent on weight-loss supplements?

Always consult with your doctor first and try to find some other natural alternatives such as following a healthy balanced diet and getting plenty of physical activity. Remember, no magic pill can shed away extra weight – only you can do it.

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