QUESTION: I am interested in trying to lose the 35 or so pounds I have gained due to a back injury. I have tried over-the-counter type diet pills but they don’t really do anything for me. There are just to many web sites that are trying to sell the so-called ‘easy way’ to lose weight, but again I have spent enough money in the last year or so to say forget it, its a waste of money out of my pocket. Needless to say the only thing I have seen is taking green tea (I think it was green tea) a couple times of day. I have bought it but am just not ready to start drinking it. I’ve heard it tastes pretty bad. Any suggestions on your part as for losing the weight?
ANSWER: Herbs and Aromatherapy do provide some alternative methods to enhance weight loss but speaking truthfully, there is no replacement for proper diet (one appropriate for you, as everybody is different) and adequate exercise. I believe these two things will influence weight loss more than anything else. My daughter in her teen years experienced severe knee problems and couldn’t exercise in the normal ways. She desired to lose weight and had success with proper food combining and regular visits to the gym where she did mostly mild muscle building activities.
Proper food combining is briefly described as not eating starch foods with protein foods and eating fruit on an empty stomach. Starch foods are eaten with lots of vegetables and protein foods are also eaten with lots of vegetables. Fruit is considered a cleansing food and is not eaten with other concentrated foods. Fruit is not eaten with meals or after meals as a desert. It is eaten in the morning for breakfast and as snacks throughout the day. One of the concepts behind this method is that with proper combining your body assimilates the food better and resulting in more nourishment. There is the belief that when we don’t properly or complete digest the food we eat, it ends up contributing to toxic accumulations in the body. Some toxic accumulations are thought to contribute to more fat cells. There are a lot more details behind these concepts and I may not have done it justice by reducing it to these few statements.
We followed the recommendations in a book called Fit for Life by Harvey & Marilyn Diamond. I am not a dietitian and certainly am not qualified to give advice about diet. Everybody is different and you must do what is right for you. My mother recently lost weight by eating more steamed vegetables. She simply ate more meals where steamed vegetables were the largest proportion of all the food she consumed.
Getting back to herbs, Chickweed is mentioned in many herb books as an herb that has been used for centuries for weight loss. I am concerned about certain herbal products popularly used today for weight loss. They seem to be herbal forms of speed and uppers. Herbs like Ephedra, Ma Huang or Kola Nut are popular these days in “natural” weight loss formulas but these herbs are what you should stay away from if you have heart problems or high blood pressure. I think this is an unsafe misuse of these herbs. I feel the same way about all the laxative and diuretic herbs in these “natural” products as well.
Our Cheryl’s Herbs Weight Loss Tea and Weight Loss Capsules are formulas based around Chickweed. The ingredients of the capsules are: Chickweed Herb Stellaria media, wild, Fennel Seed Foeniculum vulgare, Kelp Laminaria spp., Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Echinacea Root Echinacea angustifolia, Fenugreek Seed Trigonella foenum-graecum, Ginger RootZingiber officinale, Hawthorn Berry Crataegus laevigata/spp., Papaya LeafCarica papaya.
I feel very good about our weight loss products because these herbs have been proven to have a gentle, beneficial effect on the whole body. Studies have shown Fennel to be effective in treatments for indigestion, including spastic gastrointestinal afflictions, fullness and flatulence. As well, Fennel,Fenugreek and Ginger are included in a list of curry herbs by Daniel Mowrey in Herbal Tonic Therapies reports that these herbs exhibit important vascular activities like inhibition of platelet aggregation, anticholesterol action and fibrinolytic activity which is the action that helps keep blood flowing correctly. He feels the herbs negate the action of harmful chemicals and boost the ability of the liver to filter them out and help regenerate any cells killed by toxic substances. This has a profound impact on the digestibility, absorbability and assimilability of all food eaten in conjunction with the curry herbs. Since the liver, gallbladder, kidney and other organs respond dramatically to them, he concludes with the thought that anybody could benefit from the frequent and proper use of various combinations of the curry herbs.
Ginger is historically famous and clinically proven in aiding the digestion system. The one caution that comes with use of Ginger is that persons with gallstones should consult a practitioner prior to use.
Fenugreek has the added benefit of reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels according to recent studies making it beneficial for diabetes.
Recent research has shown Kelp to be responsible for anticoagulant and fibrinolytic activity. This seaweed is known as an important general nutritive tonic and studies in Japan have shown that intake of this herb is significantly responsible for that country’s dramatically lower breast cancer rates, as well as presence of less obesity, heart disease, respiratory disease, rheumatism and arthritis, high blood pressure, thyroid deficiency, infectious disease, constipation and other gastrointestinal ailments according to Daniel Mowrey.Kelp is avoided during hyperthyroidism. I believe we should take breaks from anything you do on a daily basis and this is important in the use of Kelpbecause it is not recommended for long term use and when taken alone, it should be accompanied with adequate liquid.
Dandelion Root corrects disturbances in bile flow and helps with various kinds of indigestion according to evidence collected and used by the German government for successful regulation of their herbal product consumption. Daniel Mowrey states it is used specifically for the health of the liver, related organs and glands and because it is high in inulin, a form of carbohydrate easily assimilated by diabetics, it is a potential source of nutritional support for diabetics. Recent scientific findings have found Dandelion to be a mild laxative, tonic medicine and recommended as an aid for promoting digestive regularity. It should not be taken if there is blockage of the bile ducts, acute gallbladder inflammation or intestinal blockage.
Echinacea has been vigorously studied and proven to be an immune stimulant. I personally believe when a person’s immune system is functioning well, their body is in a much better position to handle all other desired health goals.
Based on historical record and long experience, the German government describes Hawthorn Berry to be traditionally used for strengthening and invigorating heart and circulatory function. Please note that patients prescribed digitalis should be informed that Hawthorn preparations may have a potentiating effect which may necessitate a smaller dosage of digitalis.
We have received quite a lot of good feedback about the Weight Loss Capsules from our customers including the reduction of cravings to snack in-between meals.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils. Essential oils are intensely strong smelling essences which are distilled from aromatic plant material. Research studies have proven the success of using fragrances for appetite control. In these studies, an essential oil is intensely smelled for 5 – 7 minutes and this has been found to reduce the appetite. Usually culinary type essential oils are used such as Aniseed, Basil, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Nutmeg, Orange, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tangerine, Thyme, Vanilla. Note that some of these oils come with safety warnings which should be considered before using.
Essential oils are also applied externally to aid weight loss. Many authors recommend certain essential oils diluted and massaged into heavy areas of the bodies, especially the legs, hips and cellulite areas. We have aromatherapy products like this and we have received good comments from customers about their successful use. From France we have a very special line of essential oils called Frictions. These formulas, created by the internationally recognized, Nelly Grosjean, include a few that people have successfully used for weight loss. The names of these particular frictions are: CEL+, MIN & 109. I personally have used these in a daily routine recommended by Nelly Grosjean and found them to be incredibly powerful and delightful to use. She recommends their application to your feet, legs, hips, solar plexus, chest and spine twice a day. They smell wonderful and I greatly enjoyed the routine. She also suggests drinking hydrosols during this routine, that usually lasts for 3 weeks. Hydrosols are the water left over from distillation to produce essential oils. Rose water is a more commonly known example of a hydrosol. She recommends drinking Juniper, Elderberry,Rosemary or Sage Hydrosol. They are delicious and since you add them to water it encourages you to drink more water which is a very healthy thing to do. Nelly is also a great advocate of drinking fresh vegetable juices.
It is important to remember there is usually no easy answer to weight loss. Your results with herbs will be in direct proportion to your efforts. Steady, regular use and doing the very best you can with your diet and exercise will provide you with the best results.
Blumenthal, Mark., et al Ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs.
McGuffin, Michael, et al Ed. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 1997.
Mowrey, Daniel B. Herbal Tonic Therapies. New Canaan: Keats Publishing Co. 1993.
Weiner, Michael A. and Janet A. Weiner. Herbs That Heal.