Herbology recommends a whole body approach when planning weight loss. With this in mind you need to look at more than just cutting out the chips and pizza. You need to work out why your body is overweight and unwell in the first place. Sure, it may indeed be that you overindulge in chips and pizza, but apart from nutrition it may also have something to do with hydration, physical activity, bone structure, body type, genetic make up and body composition.
When thinking about adjusting your diet for weight loss and wellness you have to involve the liver. Your liver produces and excretes bile, essential for the digestive process. The liver is responsible for breaking down the myriad of potentially harmful substances our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis, like drugs, pollutants, artificial food additives. Modern life keeps the liver busy even without the added stress of an inadequate diet.
Some basic liver functions involve
o metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins
o maintenance of blood sugar levels,
o the breakdown of amino acids
o activation of hormones such as oestrogen
Basically a happy liver is important for maintaining healthy blood, well functioning digestive system and metabolism in general. Liver dysfunction can manifest itself in symptoms in other parts of the body, especially skin disorders.
To keep your liver happy ease it's load by looking at what you eat and expose your body to.
There are many herbs known as hepatics which have been used to strengthen, tone and stimulate bile flow. Balmony, Barberry, Dandelion, Golden Seal, Vervain, Wild Yam & Yellow Dock are some of the more useful hepatics. The simplest, easily available and widely applicable herb to treat the liver to an overhaul is Dandelion.
Drinking an infusion made from Dandelion leaves or root after each meal, it will help strengthen the liver, clean the body via the kidneys and if you add Meadowsweet it will also aid the stomach.
There are many herbal ways that can help you on your journey to weight loss:
o Alfalfa is a diuretic which aids digestion. Its active components make fats more soluble.
o Burdock improves fat metabolism and acts as a diuretic. A very useful herb it detoxifies the blood and lymphatic system and is an excellent overall blood purifier. Burdock root can help to reduce cravings and hunger - to assist in weight loss make a standard decoction and drink between meals.
o Cayenne improves circulation and digestion. It increases the body's core temperature which in turn increases its metabolism
o Chickweed has been shown to break down fat molecules. It is often recommended in combination with burdock root which helps balance oils and fats in the body; the chickweed breaks down the fat and the burdock helps transport it out of the body. As a tea, it is an effective way to curb cravings, assist digestion, and help lose weight.
o Cinnamon is another heating herb it reduces cholesterol levels (the bad, not the good) and its effect on blood sugar makes it very useful against obesity, insulin resistance.
o Fennel is a diuretic that is said to reduce hunger and improve energy. Fennel seeds are often combined with Nettles to make a useful tea for weight loss.
o Flaxseed is a bulk laxative that helps curb hunger. Loaded with vitamins it is a great source of protein and fiber and it stabilizes sugar levels. Flaxseed expands five times in bulk when ingested, thus if taken half an hour before meals will help you eat less. This may help you lose weight while strengthening your immune system.
o Green tea has a mild thermogenic effect and the catechin polyphenols in green tea extract are believed to increase the rate of calorie burning. Thus green tea may be a mild and pleasant way to boost metabolism.
o Hawthorn berries reduce blood fat and improves circulation. They are said to be extremely useful with stagnant, undigested food accumulated in the stomach and improve thyroid function.
o Kelp is believed to be beneficial for people with thyroid problems for whom it is said to increase the basal metabolic rate. It's important that you follow manufacturer's directions.
o Nettles (one of my favorites) are high in nutrition and helps clears toxins. Nettle tea is used to curb appetite and cravings and assist in weight loss.
o Parsley is a great diuretic and nutritional aid. Combine Parsley juice with Carrot juice and drink to reduce hunger cravings. The same juice combination is also useful to maintain proper blood sugar levels and reducing the blood sugar swings often associated with weight loss programs.
When incorporating herbs and herbal products into your health regime try to include fresh herbs, instead of just using dried and otherwise processed herbal products. Of course it isn't always possible to get the above herbs in fresh form, but if you can get your hands on them it would be a great idea to eat them everyday, as fresh as possible. Instead of taking a capsule, eat a handful of fresh parsley. Experiment with tasting each of your favorite culinary herbs made up as "diet" tea. Grow your own dandelion leaves, plantain, mints, lettuce, whatever, and whip it up in your blender as your special diet supplement. You will find that there are almost no calories in most herbs. Eating and living with herbs can start a lifestyle which is one step closer to permanent weight loss and wellness.
Herbs can be used to assist in the weight loss process. They may not be enough to bring on weight loss on their own but when used in combination with dietary changes and mild exercise can make most weight loss attempts very successful.
Weight loss programs are not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. If you are pregnant and/or lactating please consult a qualified herbalist before taking any herbs.