In this article:
- Top Herbs for Weight Loss
- Precautions to Consider
- Most-Asked Questions
- Final Word
Maintaining optimal weight with good health is everyone’s top priority these days. Anytime their weight goes up on the scale even by a few grams, they are immediately motivated to reduce the amount of food they eat, give up on soft drinks, and take up walking or some form of physical activity that is slightly more than what they do on a regular basis.
However, despite making all these changes, sometimes some people fail to see results. It is then when alternatives or less known ways to reduce weight are looked into, chief among them being herbs and spices.
Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine, relies heavily on using natural remedies for treating most conditions. So many herbs and spices that have been studied and found to offer multiple benefits are recommended in Ayurveda to improve digestion and metabolism and ultimately aid weight loss.
Top Herbs for Weight Loss
The following herbs can aid you in your weight loss journey.
Widely used in South Asian cooking, these small light-brown seeds have many health benefits.
In a study that evaluated the effect of fenugreek on individuals with obesity, it was noted that the fiber in fenugreek (8 g) increased satiety and feeling of fullness and further resulted in reduced food consumption. This finding indicated that overeating in individuals with obesity can be managed with the consumption of fenugreek seeds. (1)
Another study revealed that fenugreek seeds have shown preventative effects on the accumulation of fat and imbalance of lipids in the body by improving lipid metabolism. (2)
It is important to note that, while fenugreek shows promising results in discouraging the increase of fat in the body, they do not prevent the consequences of eating a high-fat diet. (3)
How to consume:
Fenugreek seeds generally taste bitter. Roasting and soaking remove some of their bitterness, making them more palatable.
- Soaking up to 1 tbsp (8 g) of fenugreek seeds overnight and consuming them the next morning is the most common way of gaining their benefits.
- The seeds can also be roasted and ground into a fine powder and mixed into smoothies or added to daily cooking.
Extracted from the bark of the trees belonging to the Cinnamomum family, cinnamon is much favored in its powder form sprinkled over coffee or hot chocolate, used in baking cakes or biscuits, and added to everyday cooking.
A study evaluating the antioxidant activity of cinnamon found that different extracts of cinnamon were all considerably rich in antioxidants. (4) In addition, the study found that one of cinnamon’s most potent effects is lowering blood glucose, which is highly beneficial in the management of diabetes. (5)
Yet another study that evaluated the effectiveness of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels found that consuming up to 6 g of cinnamon daily lowered all blood lipid parameters. (6)
All of these benefits of cinnamon work together to effectively reduce weight when it is consumed daily.
How to consume:
- Cinnamon can be powdered and sprinkled on everyday food.
- One-inch sticks of cinnamon can be boiled in water for a delicious cinnamon tea.
- Simply chewing the bark can help in obtaining its benefits.
3. Black pepper
Black pepper grows in a vine native to India, and this round black ingredient is full of a compound called piperine, which gives it its benefits.
An in vitro study found that piperine prevented the formation of fat cells, (7) making it highly effective for people seeking to reduce their weight.
How to consume:
- Black pepper is generally powdered and used in daily cooking or sprinkled on top of salads.
- It can also be added to smoothies for a spicy kick.
This beautiful golden-yellow spice is obtained by drying and powdering turmeric root, and all of its superpowers can be attributed to a compound called curcumin.
Studies evaluating the role of curcumin in overweight individuals showed that this compound led to an increased fat reduction and a smaller waistline. (8) However, the amount of curcumin needed to cause such changes is in much larger amounts than is present in one dose (5 g) of turmeric.
Curcumin supplements are available, and it is advisable to consult a physician before including anything new in your diet.
How to consume:
- Use turmeric in daily cooking.
- Prepare turmeric milk by boiling 1 tsp of turmeric in 1 cup of milk and drink it daily. Turmeric milk is a very effective and delicious way to take your daily dose of curcumin.
- Consider turmeric supplements but only upon the recommendation of your physician.
Ginger root is used in many different cultures as medicine for several ailments. Besides its use against cold and nausea, ginger is also studied for its weight loss benefits.
Studies to evaluate the effect of ginger on weight reduction of individuals with overweight and obesity have shown promising results. Findings revealed that most body parameters were reduced with daily supplementation of ginger. (9)
How to consume:
- Ginger can be used to prepare tea by boiling 2–3 slices of ginger root in 2 cups of water.
- Ginger can also be added to daily cooking by using a spoonful of ginger paste obtained from grinding the root.
- Dried ginger slices can also be candied and taken as snacks during weight loss.
Cumin is the dried seed of the parsley family and is a common ingredient in South Asian cooking. Cumin has also been used since ancient times to improve digestive distress and support general digestive health.
A small study done on women showed that consuming 3 g of cumin powder twice daily with yogurt resulted in lowered fat and lipid parameters. (10)
How to consume:
- Cumin powder can be added to meals by either sprinkling it on food or yogurt.
- Cumin powder can also be added to smoothies or sauces.
- A simple tea can be made by adding 1 teaspoon of cumin to 1 cup of boiling water.
Rosemary, a common kitchen herb, is rich in carnosic acid. Studies evaluating the benefits of rosemary leaf on weight loss showed that it aided in the reduction in fat. (11)
How to consume:
- Rosemary can be used in daily cooking.
- Rosemary can be made into tea by boiling 1 tsp of fresh rosemary in 1 cup of water.
Known for its use on pizza and in pasta sauces, oregano contains carvacrol, a compound that can boost weight loss.
In a study done on mice, carvacrol reduced the amount of weight gained through diet, the amount of fat that accumulates under the skin, and lipid levels in the blood. (12)
How to consume:
- Fresh or dried oregano can be used in daily cooking.
- It can also be made into tea by itself or combined with other herbs.
- The use of supplemental carvacrol is still being studied, and it is advisable to consult a physician before including any new supplement in the diet.
The yellow flower and root of the dandelion plant have several uses. The dandelion flower is a popular floral tea choice. The active compounds in dandelion have anti-obesity properties and also reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver, which in turn affects blood lipid levels.
By increasing the absorption of glucose into the cells of the body, dandelion also prevents the chance of glucose cells being converted into fat. (13)
How to consume:
- Dandelion can be used as floral tea.
- It can also be used in cooking or baking.
Precautions to Consider
Keep the following in mind when using herbs for weight loss:
- As with every other food, it is important not to overconsume any herb or spice in the hopes of making it more effective. It is important to remember that using natural ingredients for the management of health conditions takes some time before its results can be obtained.
- Most of these herbs have been studied for the efficiency of their active compound, which is in lesser quantity than what can be consumed through the daily dosage of herbs. In this case, supplements for the herbs and spices mentioned in this article become an attractive option. It is strongly recommended never to consume these supplements without medical supervision.
How many times in a day can I have these herbs?
Having one daily dose of 5 g of any of these herbs in the form of tea or in daily cooking is usually the best way to gain the benefits.
Will consuming the herbs be enough to achieve my weight loss goal?
The primary reason for weight gain is the consumption of more calories than burned through physical activity. Following a calorie-deficit diet and increasing average daily physical activity are crucial along with the consumption of adjuncts useful for weight loss such as herbs and spices.
Herbs and spices used in the kitchen are the most underrated ingredients in our arsenal that can improve metabolism and digestion and ultimately reduce weight.
These herbs and spices can be used together to make homemade tea mixes and prepare a hot concoction. The spice blend can also be ground together and added to food when cooking or sprinkled on top before eating.
However, before consuming these ingredients for their weight loss effects, always take allergies into consideration. Moreover, reducing your overall consumption of calories and increasing your physical activity are important to achieving weight loss as opposed to complete reliance on herbs and spices.
- Mathern JR, Raatz SK, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Effect of Fenugreek Fiber on Satiety, Blood Glucose and Insulin Response and Energy Intake in Obese Subjects. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(11):1543-1548. doi:10.1002/ptr.2795.
- Kumar P, Bhandari U, Jamadagni S. Fenugreek seed extract inhibit fat accumulation and ameliorates dyslipidemia in high fat diet-induced obese rats. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:606021. doi:10.1155/2014/606021.
- Knott EJ, Richard AJ, Mynatt RL, Ribnicky D, Stephens JM, Bruce-Keller A. Fenugreek supplementation during high-fat feeding improves specific markers of metabolic health. Scientific Reports. 2017;7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12846-x. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-12846-x.
- Mancini-Filho J, Van-Koiij A, Mancini DA, Cozzolino FF, Torres RP. Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts. Boll Chim Farm. 1998;137(11):443-447.
- Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:642942. doi:10.1155/2014/642942.
- Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003;26(12):3215-3218. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215.
- Park UH, Jeong HS, Jo EY, et al. Piperine, a component of black pepper, inhibits adipogenesis by antagonizing PPARγ activity in 3T3-L1 cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60(15):3853-3860. doi:10.1021/jf204514a.
- Di Pierro F, Bressan A, Ranaldi D, Rapacioli G, Giacomelli L, Bertuccioli A. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(21):4195-4202.
- Maharlouei N, Tabrizi R, Lankarani KB, et al. The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(11):1753-1766. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1427044.
- Zare R, Heshmati F, Fallahzadeh H, Nadjarzadeh A. Effect of cumin powder on body composition and lipid profile in overweight and obese women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014;20(4):297-301. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.10.001.
- Akbari S, Sohouli MH, Ebrahimzadeh S, Ghanaei FM, Hosseini AF, Aryaeian N. Effect of rosemary leaf powder with weight loss diet on lipid profile, glycemic status, and liver enzymes in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2022;36(5):2186-2196. doi:10.1002/ptr.7446.
- Cho S, Choi Y, Park S, Park T. Carvacrol prevents diet-induced obesity by modulating gene expressions involved in adipogenesis and inflammation in mice fed with high-fat diet. J Nutr Biochem. 2012;23(2):192-201. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.11.016.
- Wirngo FE, Lambert MN, Jeppesen PB. The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud. 2016;13(2-3):113-131. doi:10.1900/RDS.2016.13.113.