Herbal diet pills are weight loss supplements that rely on herbal ingredients, rather than chemicals, to help you shed the pounds.
Before you rush to your local health food store to buy some, however, there are some things you should know.
First of all, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the sale of herbal supplements.
This means the FDA doesn’t require actual proof or clinical trials from companies before they start marketing their weight loss products.
In addition, there’s no guarantee that the amount or the ingredients listed on the label of an herbal diet pill is actually what’s inside the bottle. In fact, the FDA maintains a list of Tainted Weight Loss Products, which includes many herbal weight loss pills.
However, supplements are only investigated and make it into that list if a large number of people or medical providers complain about it. This means that just because a product is not on the list, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe.
As with all other weight loss supplements, you should exercise caution when using diet pills and talk to your doctor if you are taking medications and are concerned about potential interactions.
Types of Herbal Diet Pills
All herbal diet pills fall into one of the following groups: laxative/diuretics, appetite suppressants, and metabolism stimulants (what some people call fat burners).
For example, aloe and cascara both have laxative properties. When taken alongside a low-calorie diet, they can lead to fast weight loss – although not likely to permanent weight loss.
Both ingredients are sometimes marketed as “internal cleansers” because of this. However, both can cause diarrhea, cramps, and electrolyte disturbances if abused.
Dandelion is a natural diuretic, which means you will urinate more often when drinking it. This leads to only temporary weight loss and can cause dehydration over time.
Appetite suppressants work by tricking your body into believing you’re already full. As a result, you eat less and lose weight. This is a much healthier option than the other group, although appetite suppressants only work if you continue taking them – once you stop, your normal appetite will return. Psyllium Seed/Plantain is a popular appetite suppressant.
Although more research is needed into the thermogenic (fat burning effect) of herbs, some herbal pills in the market might turn out to be somewhat effective.
For example, a systematic review of studies regarding Garcinia cambogia showed that the extract could potentially help with weight loss in the short term. However, future trials and more rigorous studies are needed before a conclusion can be reached.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Keep in mind that because there are few studies on the effectiveness of herbal weight loss products, it’s difficult to say what truly works and what you should avoid. Some very popular products in the market, including Hoodia, have no scientific evidence to back them up.
In addition, some herbal weight loss pills can interact with medication or cause dangerous side effects. If you have an underlying medical condition or if you’re taking prescription medication, talk to a doctor or nutritionist before adding herbal diet pills to your weight loss program.