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Research Deems Herbal Weight Loss Extracts Have No Clinically Significant Effect

Deborah Killion

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Research Deems Herbal Weight Loss Extracts Have No Clinically Significant Effect
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Researchers from the University of Sydney have conducted a review of herbal supplements used for weight loss. The team has concluded that despite the observed statistical differences, the evidence is insufficient to recommend any of the current herbal based weight loss supplements.

Obesity and overweight cases have significantly increased globally, with the worldwide prevalence doubling since WHO’s 1980 report. Many of the people dealing with obesity and weight loss have turned to herbal weight loss treatment to help lose weight. The most common herbal treatments for obesity and overweight include white kidney bean, green tea, African mango, and garcinia Cambogia.

The researchers conducted a systematic meta-analysis and review published in “Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism.” They analyzed all the latest global research on the topic and found fifty-four randomized controlled trials that compared the effects of herbal supplements to placebo in over 4,000 weight loss participants.

The review did not include herbal supplements that included part of the whole plant, oil extracts of the plant, or a combination of part of the plant with other dietary supplements such as proteins and fibers.

Among all the reviewed herbal supplements, Phaseolus vulgaris was the only single agent that resulted in what was termed as significant weight loss in comparison to placebo. However, this weight loss was still not considered as being clinically significant. A weight loss of 2 or more kilograms was considered to be clinically significant. Garcinia cambogia and Camellia sinensis showed no effect overweight at all.

Statistically, but not clinically significant weight loss was observed for supplement combinations containing Phaseolus vulgaris, Camellia Sinensis, and Ephedra sinica. Herbal supplements that trailed in 3 or less random controlled trials and showed both statistically and clinically significant weight loss included a combination of Garcinia mangostana and Sphaeranthus indicus, Cissus quadrangularis, and Irvingia gabonensis, among others.

However, the authors of the review argue that the findings should be cautiously interpreted due to poor methodology, a small number of studies, and generally poor reporting on herbal supplement interventions.

“These findings are insufficient evidence to rely on when recommending herbal supplements for overweight and obesity treatment. Many of the studies had poor research methodology and reporting. Although some of the supplements appear safe for short term treatment, they are costly and will not end up providing a clinically significant weight loss.”

said Dr. Nick Fuller, the senior author of Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorders – a partnership of the University of Sydney based at Charles Perkins Centre.

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