Best herbs for weight loss
By Charity Parkinson Cl.H., H.N.C.January 16, 2017
Botanica’s clinical herbalist, Charity Parkinson, shares her 5 favourite herbs for weight management
Weight management and weight loss may be top of the list as goals for many of us this year. The truth is, there are different ways to get there, since one size does not fit all. The theory that if calories taken in are less than calories burned – one will lose weight – is not true for everyone. You may have experienced this yourself or know of someone who has tried with poor results.
One of the reasons you may not be losing weight is that not all calories are created equal. A calorie from a bag of potato chips is not the same as a calorie from a ripe avocado or a handful of nuts and seeds. Our bodies use the calories from these foods differently due to the vast differences in nutrient makeup.
Another common reason for struggling with weight loss even though we might eat well, is stress. Stress is hard on our adrenals, thyroid, digestion and blood sugar regulation. All of which can lead to weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. Did you know that one of the major links to obesity is actually chronic stress? Unfortunately, chronic stress can trigger fat storage genes to be turned on and also cause us to crave that empty calorie junk food. Since we all know that stress is hard to completely avoid, the question is what can we do about it?
This is where herbs come in. The herbs listed here can have healing effects in the areas of the body where stress has taken a toll. Helping these organ systems function better will get to the root of the problem, while giving your metabolism the boost it needs to achieve your weight loss goals.
Holy Basil has been shown to regulate cortisol secretion (our major stress hormone), which protects the adrenals from overstimulation. Lowering cortisol helps prevent belly fat accumulation, which is one of the more stubborn areas to lose weight. Holy Basil also lifts the spirits and reduces anxiety which can otherwise lead to overeating and junk food cravings.
Why to use: to increase thyroid function
Ashwagandha is an age old longevity herb from India, which has proven benefits for increasing thyroid function. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating our body temperature and increasing metabolism within every cell of our body. Those with sluggish thyroid or hypothyroid function often suffer from weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, depression and cold hands and feet. Taken long term, Ashwagandha improves overall vitality so that you have the energy to get your body moving again.
Why to use: to stimulate digestion
Bitter herbs can reduce the bloat and support liver function. Taking Digestive Bitters a few minutes before a meal can really help your body to break down and absorb the nutrients from your food. What’s more is that bitters also support healthy detoxification and elimination. More nutrients in, along with more waste out, reduces your toxic load, increases fat metabolism and helps to keeps that excess weight off.
Why to use: to stabilize blood sugar levels
Cinnamon has been shown clinically to lower both blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity in type II diabetics, according to the American Diabetes Association. Having steady blood sugar levels without the constant rise and fall really helps to avoid that blood sugar crash that causes us to reach for sweet foods in a panic. Cinnamon also helps insulin uptake into the cells which may go a long way in the prevention of type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Why to use: to promote healthy fat cell production
It turns out that our brown fat tissue actually helps to burn calories, whereas our white fat tissue tends to store calories. Turmeric has been studied and proven to increase brown fat cell production while inhibiting white fat cells, often more dense in overweight people. This can truly shift things in the body in favor of fat burning, which is terrific news for those prone to weight gain.
Using the right herbal medicine in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regimen can make all the difference for achieving your weight loss goals. Taking a deeper root cause approach to weight loss will ultimately give you the most optimal and long-lasting results. Always check with a natural health practitioner before taking any herbal medicine if you are currently on medication.