Herbs for weight loss: Green coffee bean extract, turmeric, cinnamon
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Herbs for weight loss: Green coffee bean extract, turmeric, cinnamon

Apr 11, 2023

Research on herbs for weight loss suggests that some botanicals may have value. One example is turmeric, which may improve some indicators of obesity without causing side effects.

According to research, turmeric's efficacy comes from curcumin, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties. However, any weight loss effect is likely very minimal.

While some herbs may be safe and potentially aid in weight loss, others may cause side effects. A person should check with a doctor before starting any supplement. It is also important to note that taking an herb or supplement is not a magic pill that will help a person lose weight.

This article discusses herbs for weight loss, including cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, ginseng, cayenne pepper, Caralluma fimbriata, turmeric, Gymnema sylvestre, green coffee bean extract, and cumin.

A 2019 review assessed 12 clinical trials involving 786 participants to determine the effect of cinnamon on weight loss. It found that the spice was linked to a reduction in weight.

The dosage associated with a significant decrease in fat mass was at least 2 grams per day for at least 12 weeks.

Cinnamon supplements appear safe when the quantities are similar to those that people use to flavor foods. However, the use of larger amounts for long periods may cause side effects. The most common ones are allergic reactions or gastrointestinal problems.

An older 2014 study investigated the effect of fenugreek seed extract on rats. It discovered that it may help reduce fat accumulation and dyslipidemia, which is an imbalance of blood fats, such as cholesterol.

However, it is important to note that this study was done on rats, not humans. The safety of fenugreek is unknown when a person consumes it in quantities higher than those typical for flavoring food.

Potential side effects include:

A 2018 review evaluated 14 clinical trials involving 473 participants to identify the effects of ginger. It revealed that ginger intake decreased body weight and other weight loss indicators but did not affect body mass index (BMI).

Research suggests that ginger supplements are safe, but they can cause side effects, particularly when someone takes large doses. These include:

Research from 2017 reviewed studies on ginseng to determine whether it can help with weight loss. The authors state that most investigations on the anti-obesity effect of ginseng have involved animals. Since only limited evidence suggests that the herb has the same effect on humans, further research is necessary.

The use of Asian ginseng for up to 6 months in recommended quantities appears safe for most people.

The most common side effect is insomnia, but it may also cause:

A 2017 review explored the effects of capsaicin, a component of cayenne pepper. It found that the spice has various health benefits, including promoting weight loss in people with obesity. Additionally, it was linked to reduced fat accumulation and increased satiety, which is a feeling of fullness.

Capsaicin is likely safe when an individual consumes it in amounts that are typical in food, but it is possibly unsafe in larger amounts or for long-term use. Side effects may include:

Research from 2021 analyzed four placebo-controlled studies to gauge the value of Caralluma fimbriata for obesity. It found that the herb produced no significant reduction in most indicators of weight loss, as well as no changes in appetite and satiety.

The authors did not recommend it for weight loss or appetite suppression.

An older 2015 clinical trial assessed the safety of Caralluma fimbriata among 89 participants who took 400 milligrams twice per day for 12 weeks. It notes that most adverse effects of those who took the supplement were mild and temporary. They included:

A 2019 review explored the weight-related effects of a component of turmeric called curcumin. The data came from 21 studies involving 1,604 individuals with metabolic syndrome, which refers to the co-occurrence of obesity-related cardiovascular risk factors.

It found that the supplement improved BMI, waist circumference, and some, but not all, other indicators of obesity. The authors concluded that curcumin may be an effective supplement for metabolic syndrome management.

Additionally, they noted that researchers generally consider curcumin safe, and clinical trials indicate that people tolerate it well.

Older research from 2014 reviewed studies related to the value of Gymnema sylvestre for weight management. The authors found the herb has anti-obesity effects, as it was linked to reduced body weight and decreased fatty acid accumulation.

Gymnema sylvestre is potentially safe if a person takes it for up to 20 months.

According to another 2014 study, the herb is safe in recommended doses, but high doses may cause:

A 2021 clinical trial investigated the effect of a green coffee bean extract on 71 healthy individuals who were considered overweight. The results indicated that it has weight loss effects that stem largely from a decrease in body fat percentage and regulation of lipid metabolism.

According to the authors, it appeared to be safe. A 2020 review also stated that research does not report side effects connected to the supplement.

A small 2015 clinical trial compared the effects of cumin supplementation with those of orlistat (Xenical), a weight loss medication.

After 8 weeks, the benefits on weight, BMI, and insulin metabolism were comparable, which suggests that cumin may be as effective as the medication. Cumin is possibly safe in large amounts for up to 3 months.

It can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Side effects may include:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not evaluate dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness. Some supplements can have strong actions or negatively interact with medications.

The above herbs are typically safe if a person does not exceed the amount usually found in food. However, if an individual takes them in larger amounts, the safety information is unknown.

It is also worth noting that some of the above herbs may cause side effects that are more problematic than others. One example is ginseng's potential to cause a fast heart rate and changes in blood pressure.

The FDA urges people to talk with their doctor before taking any supplement.

Studies on herbs for weight loss suggest that some may reduce various indicators of obesity. Turmeric and green coffee bean extract appear to have value for this use, and they have a good safety profile.

However, many other herbs have the potential to cause side effects.

As some herbs can have a strong effect on individuals and interact with the medications they take, a person should always check with a doctor before taking them.