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Weight Loss » Chinese Herbs For Weight Loss: A Holistic Approach To Shake Up Your Metabolism

Chinese Herbs For Weight Loss: A Holistic Approach To Shake Up Your Metabolism

chinese herbs for weight loss

Alternative method of slimming down

There are a lot of different people in the world, with their own problems, dreams, and goals. And they all try to reach their goal using different means. Let’s take, for example, weight loss. Some people opt for more conventional, scientifically proven methods, while some are no strangers to experimenting with alternative weight loss approaches. Chinese herbs might not be the first thing you conjure up when someone mentions dieting, but combining them with regular workouts and healthy nutrition can go a long way.

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If you haven’t heard about the usage of Chinese herbs for weight loss, you may be wondering about how it works and puzzling over whether they are really an effective weight loss tool or not. The answer to all these questions you will find in this article, along with the information about which Chinese nutritional habits may be highly effective at helping you reach your goal.

The effects of Chinese herbs

The usage of Chinese herbs for medicinal purposes occurred as a part of traditional Chinese medicine (14), which dates back to ancient times, and nowadays gained more popularity among western countries (6, 3). Along with other methods of treatment, Chinese herbs are believed to be able to help with (13): 

  • Respiratory diseases (4)
  • Allergies
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Gynecologic conditions (2)
  • Mental disorders

Such healing and strengthening effect may be reached due to a combination of certain herbs, which together promote a perfect balance. Each Chinese herb has its own role and function. Although in western medicine they are used separately, as a complementary medicine, to treat certain symptoms or side effects from drugs, or to promote the prevention of some diseases, in traditional Chinese medicine they create formulas, which are focused on the healing and strengthening of certain organs, thus overall having a more important role (12).

best chinese herbs for weight loss
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The best Chinese herbs for weight loss

If you track the problems of Chinese people throughout history, you will notice, that being overweight and obese was never on the national level of concern. However, there always were Chinese herbs for weight loss. As time passed, and the fame of traditional Chinese medicine spread across the world, the new formulas began to appear. As we mentioned before, such formulas include different herbs, each having its own purpose and function. Combined, they promise to help you slim down by boosting your metabolism, improving your digestion, reducing your appetite, and prolonging the feeling of satiation.

To create a personalized formula please consult a specialist. However, you don’t necessarily have to use a combination of Chinese herbs for weight loss in a form of medicine, you can also use some of the components separately, to boost your weight loss results. Here are the most popular ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine for weight loss:

  • Ginger

Ginger has been in use all over the world for a long time now, and some people may not know that this herb has a Chinese origin. It is quite popular in bakery, as a spice in dishes, in to tea, as a natural remedy for a wide range of illnesses etc. Some studies suggest that ginger promotes weight loss by boosting your metabolism and inducing fat burning processes, while reducing your appetite and decreasing fat absorption (1).

  • Ginseng

Another popular Chinese herb, ginseng, is often used in cosmetics and pharmaceutics. There are different types of ginseng, such as Chinese, Korean, and American. It is an essential part of traditional Chinese medicine, as it possesses a litany of health-promoting properties. Studies suggest that it may also increase metabolism and promote weight loss (7), but this matter requires further research.

chinese herbs for weight loss side effects
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  • Cinnamon

Not many people know that cinnamon is also of a Chinese origin, and the first mentioning of this spice dates back to 2800 BC. It does not only give the bakery products that pleasant sweet scent, but people also use it in traditional Chinese medicine as a health booster and a weight-loss supplement. It is rich in antioxidants and effective at helping you control blood sugar levels. Its slimming properties come from its ability to reduce hunger and appetite (10). 

  • Lotus seed

Not as popular in the world as the previous three herbs, lotus seed is widely used in China and in traditional Chinese medicine. You can often find that herb in soups, teas, and stir-fries. As a remedy, it goes in a formula with other metabolism-boosting herbs, and may improve your spleen and kidneys’ function, and help relieve diarrhea. Most importantly, lotus seeds are filled to the brim with fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, adding to a healthy digestion.

traditional chinese medicine herbs for weight loss
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  • Hawthorn berries

Another not-that-widespread herb, which is a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine is hawthorn berries. They are used as addition to candies, teas, and baked sweets. Hawthorn berries are very sour and are usually used as means of reducing indigestion and heartburn. Due to such properties, they can often be found in Chinese weight loss formulas.

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  • Goji berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries have been in use for at least 3,000 years. Nowadays they mostly come in dried form and are used in teas and several dishes. As a remedy goji berries are believed to promote kidney health and improve longevity. They contain antioxidants and fiber and add to a healthy digestion and vision.

what are the best chinese herbs for weight loss
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  • Licorice root

This sweet herb goes in a lot of different tonics and formulas, as a “harmonizer”, regulating and easing the bitterness and helping the medicine to go down. Licorice is also thought to promote proper digestion, clear out heat, aid in swelling, itching, and redness, and reduce skin rashes. If you are planning on getting a Chinese herbal weight-loss formula, there is a great possibility, that it will include licorice root.

  • Aged mandarin peel

You can use this herb in teas, as a flavoring in stir-fries, and in sweet baked goods. Sun-dried mandarin peels act as a warming agent, improving your spleen and stomach functions. Like the tangerine itself, they are a great source of vitamin C, and even contain higher concentrations of that antioxidant, meaning that they do a great job at fighting harmful free radicals.

  • Mung beans

These little pulses are regulars in soups, pastries, and congee. Traditional Chinese medicine uses them for their ability to detoxify the body, expel heat and add moisture. Mung beans are filled with nutrients, including fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B6, which promote better stress control, improved bowel movements, and proper digestion.

what chinese herbs are good for weight loss
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Risks of using Chinese herbs for weight loss

Despite its positive effects, traditional Chinese medicine along with Chinese herbs is not completely risk-free. Numerous researches show that some components may be toxic, and some Chinese herbal products are contaminated with incorrect herbs, undeclared plant or animal material, some of which resulted in organ damage, drugs (blood-thinner warfarin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent diclofenac, and others), heavy metals, pesticides, and sulfites, which could cause severe allergic reactions or asthma (13, 11, 5).

In other words, when you buy Chinese herbs for weight loss, you never know what exactly is there. Some formulas may contain components, which were not mentioned on the label. If you think that it’s not a big deal and can’t be that dangerous, think about it as medications, which it often presents itself as. Imagine that you are buying vitamin supplements at a drug-store, and they contain particles of other medicine, that induce diarrhea, nausea, or increase your blood pressure. And now imagine your body’s reaction to a consistent intake of those vitamin supplements, especially if you already suffer from high blood pressure. So, you can never be sure whether those formulas are what they should be, or whether they pose a threat to your health and wellness.

what chinese herbs are used for weight loss
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Chinese secrets of weight loss and slimness

If you don’t want to risk your health, but still want to trim a couple of inches, don’t despair, as Chinese herb formulas are not the only thing that promotes weight loss in Chinese people. If you know some facts about East Asian culture, you have probably noticed, that such countries as Japan, South Korea, and China have a very low obesity rate. As for 2016, the percent of overweight adults of both sexes was around 27% in Japan, 30% in South Korea and 32% in China (9), and the percentage of obese adults was 4.3% in Japan, 4.7% in Korea, and 6.2% in China.

In comparison, the same year, the percent of people who suffer from obesity in the UK reached the point of around 27%, while in the US this number got to 36% (8). Now that you know that, you are probably wondering how do they support such level, and what helps them stay slim. One of the main factors is their diet and the way they eat. So, if you want to slim down Chinese style without consuming any suspicious remedy, you should try the following:

  • Eat slow and chew your food thoroughly

This will promote proper digestion and will add to the prolonged feeling of satiety.

  • Eat a greater variety of foods, but in smaller portions

Your meal should consist of one main dish (soup, rice, noodles, etc.), and a variety of side dishes that include vegetables (raw and fermented) and legumes.

eat warmer food
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  • Eat warmer food

Consistent consumption of cold food compromises your digestion and slows down the process of weight loss. Try to eat more cooked warm food, or add some warming spices, such as ginger, hot pepper or cardamom. Substitute cold drinks and water with those of room temperature, or hot drinks

  • Don’t eat late

According to the Chinese clock, you should consume the heaviest meal before 12pm. The last meal of a day goes before 6pm.

  • Eat when you are hungry

If it is time for lunch, but you don’t feel hungry, don’t force yourself to eat just because you think you should. Eat only when you feel the need to do it.

  • Strengthen your liver, kidney, and spleen

These organs play a huge role in the process of weight loss, and their proper functioning is paramount.

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Conclusion

For some people weight loss comes easier, while others may struggle for months without any changes in weight whatsoever. That is why sometimes people start seeking out alternative weight loss methods. One of these methods is Chinese herbs. There are numerous different herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, each having its own purpose and effect. Usually they are combined into herbal formulas, which are believed to treat certain health conditions, promote overall wellness, and aid in weight loss.

And although you may use some Chinese herbs for weight loss, it might not be completely safe. They may contain elements that are not mentioned on the label. That is why, if you want to lose weight with the help of Chinese traditions, try following the above-stated recommendations. However, be sure to consult your doctor before making any changes in your nutrition, or starting to take any new diet supplements, including Chinese herbs for weight loss.

If you want your weight loss plan to be efficient, don’t forget to do some exercise on the regular basis. Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. A Systematic Review of the Anti-Obesity and Weight Lowering Effect of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) and Its Mechanisms of Action (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Alternative Medicine (2006, sciencedirect.com)
  3. Chinese herbs in the West (2009, sciencedirect.com)
  4. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2014, sciencedirect.com)
  5. Dangers of Chinese Medicine Brought to Light by DNA Studies (2012, sciencemag.org)
  6. Herbal medicine in Britain and Europe: regulation and practice (2009, sciencedirect.com)
  7. Influence of Panax ginseng on obesity and gut microbiota in obese middle-aged Korean women (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. Noncommunicable diseases | Obesity among adults (2017, who.int)
  9. Noncommunicable diseases | Overweight among adults (2017, who.int)
  10. The Potential of Cinnamon to Reduce Blood Glucose Levels in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Toxicological risks of Chinese herbs (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  12. Traditional Chinese medicine (2018, britannica.com)
  13. Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know (2013, nccih.nih.gov)
  14. What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine? (2019, webmd.com)
Nikki Midland

Nikki Midland

Jovial Paul

Jovial Paul

Jovial is from Dubai, and is a Head EMS Instructor/Fitness Manager/Nutrition Consultant for REMS Fitness. He is certified by the Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute and Registered as a Gym Instructor.
Jovial specialises in HIIT training, Rehabilitation/injury recovery, Strength and Conditioning, Kickboxing, Body Weight Training and Weight Training, and practices each discipline himself. His approach is to focus on improving his clients’ lifestyle by motivating them and setting an example.

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