Herbal dietary supplements are not helpful for weight loss (based on most scientific evidence)

Herbal dietary supplements are not helpful for weight loss (based on most scientific evidence)

The scientific literature on herbs for weight loss could not be clearer after the first global review of complementary drugs (dietary and herbal supplements) for weight loss in the past 16 years, combining 121 randomized placebo-controlled trials that include nearly 10,000 adults .

The findings of two studies, presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) held online this year, suggest that although some dietary and herbal supplements show statistically greater weight loss than placebo, it is not enough to benefit health.


The review has included herbal supplements, which contain a whole plant or combinations of plants as the active ingredient, and dietary supplements that contain compounds isolated from naturally occurring plants and animal products, such as fibers, fats, proteins, and antioxidants. They can be purchased in the form of pills, powders, and liquids .

The herbal supplements included in the analysis were : green tea; Garcinia cambogia and mangosteen (tropical fruits); white beans; ephedra (a stimulant that increases metabolism); African mango; yerba mate (herbal tea made with leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant); veld grape (commonly used in traditional Indian medicine); licorice root; and East Indian Globe Thistle (used in Ayurvedic medicine).

Dietary supplements such as chitosan (a complex sugar from the hard outer layers of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp that claims to block fat or carbohydrate absorption) were also evaluated; glucomannan (a soluble fiber found in the roots of elephant yam, or konjac, which promotes a feeling of fullness); fructans (a carbohydrate made up of fructose chains) and conjugated linoleic acid (which claims to change body composition by reducing fat).

Although most supplements appear safe for short-term use, they will not provide clinically significant weight loss .