You have probably heard of spices being useful with weight loss, but did you know that herbs can help too? And not just the exotic kind you would find only at specialist Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine stores. We are talking of larder staples like parsley and favorites like oregano and rosemary. By improving digestion, cutting bloating and water retention, and reducing appetite, these herbs can help you take the weight loss demon by the horns. Here is what can turn into your lucky 7!
Parsley is a pretty garnish or a hint of flavor to most of us. But it could actually be an ally in your effort to lose weight. A natural diuretic, the herb can help ease bloating due to water retention.1 More importantly though, the high fiber content of parsley means that it can help with digestion, moving food along the tract.
A volatile oil in parsley – eugenol – has also been found to help lower blood sugar levels in animal studies, something that could have potential in treating hyperglycemia. Parsley could therefore allow diabetics to better manage their weight by controlling blood sugar levels.2
Rosemary is chock-full of antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory properties. These antioxidants also help counter hyperglycemia and lower your fasting blood glucose levels. All of these effects combined go toward making rosemary a good herb for weight loss and one that could stave off metabolic disorders. The carnosic acid in rosemary, in particular,
has been found in studies, to have anti-obesity potential.3
The herb is a rich source of bioactive compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids that can inhibit enzymes DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase IV) and PTP1B (tyrosine phosphatase 1B). These enzymes are central to insulin function in the body and impact the secretion of the hormone as well as its activity in the body.
Researchers in one study found that Mexican oregano and marjoram were among the most effective herbs when it came to inhibiting the activity of the enzymes, making them a good option for diabetes management. With better sugar regulation and metabolism, anyone with diabetes should be able to find it easier to also manage their weight. It can also help ease constipation, and reduce bloating. Oregano is also believed to get your bile juices flowing, thereby aiding digestion.4
In fact, the very scent of the herb could help you lose weight. The smell of oregano is said to trigger the release of your happy hormone serotonin. With lower stress levels, you are less likely to indulge in “stress eating.”5
Peppermint has a distinctive fresh minty smell that you have probably tasted in your mints, gum, and even toothpaste. But did you know this smell of peppermint has an appetite-suppressing effect, making you feel less hungry? With reduced cravings, you are likely to consume fewer calories, and this in turn makes the herb a useful weight loss aid.6
The oil extracted from the leaves of the herb has been found to ease indigestion, acidity, and gas. With a digestive system that is working better, you should be able to maximize the nutrients your body derives from the food you consume, getting more by eating less. It has also been effective in studies as a remedy for irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes abdominal discomfort and bloating. 7
If you’re having weight issues related to a hormonal imbalance, from conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), spearmint could help. Low estrogen levels have been implicated as a possible cause for menopausal weight gain. 8 And spearmint can help by boosting estrogen levels naturally.
Studies have found that consuming a herbal tea made from spearmint can help bring a significant reduction in free testosterone levels in the body and boost levels of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone.9 By restoring the hormonal balance in women, spearmint can help melt those stubborn pounds.
Stress is a common feature in our lives today, and most of us have mastered the art of just living with it. Unfortunately, if you are someone who ignores stress and soldiers on without the help of any outlet for this pressure and anxiety, you could see that translate to weight gain. In fact, one of the reasons you may be seeing that weight gain, in spite of a healthy diet, could be stress. Stress hormone cortisol wreaks havoc with blood sugar levels, increasing fat storage and causing the pounds to pile on.10
Worse, it can cause you to eat more than you should – something you know better as “stress eating.”11 Sage can help combat this problem by relieving stress, easing anxiety, and calming your mind and body. Add some to your food or make a tea with it to enjoy.12
If an iodine deficiency has brought on a thyroid problem, consuming kelp, a sea herb, may help. The green contains an abundance of iodine and can improve your thyroid function if you have hypothyroidism, which causes your metabolism to become sluggish and results in weight gain. So if your weight gain is thyroid related, this herb can come to your rescue.13
|↑1||Kreydiyyeh, Sawsan Ibrahim, and Julnar Usta. “Diuretic effect and mechanism of action of parsley.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 79, no. 3 (2002): 353-357.|
|↑2||Srinivasan, Subramani, Gajendren Sathish, Mahadevan Jayanthi, Jayachandran Muthukumaran, Udaiyar Muruganathan, and Vinayagam Ramachandran. “Ameliorating effect of eugenol on hyperglycemia by attenuating the key enzymes of glucose metabolism in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 385, no. 1-2 (2014): 159-168.|
|↑3||Ibarra, Alvin, Julien Cases, Marc Roller, Amparo Chiralt-Boix, Aurélie Coussaert, and Christophe Ripoll. “Carnosic acid-rich rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) leaf extract limits weight gain and improves cholesterol levels and glycaemia in mice on a high-fat diet.” British journal of nutrition 106, no. 8 (2011): 1182.|
|↑4||Andi, S. A., V. Nazeri, J. Hadian, and Z. Zamani. “A comparison of the essential oil chemical composition of Origanum vulgare L. ssp. vulgare collected in its flowering and seed stages from southern region of Chalus.” (2012): 153-159.|
|↑5||Mechan, Annis O., Ann Fowler, Nicole Seifert, Henry Rieger, Tina Wöhrle, Stéphane Etheve, Adrian Wyss et al. “Monoamine reuptake inhibition and mood-enhancing potential of a specified oregano extract.” British journal of nutrition 105, no. 08 (2011): 1150-1163.|
|↑6||Reed, J. A., Jude Almeida, Ben Wershing, and Bryan Raudenbush. “Effects of peppermint scent on appetite control and caloric intake.” Appetite 51, no. 2 (2008): 393.|
|↑7||Alankar, Shrivastava. “A review on peppermint oil.” Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research 2, no. 2 (2009): 27-33.|
|↑8||Menopause and weight gain, Victoria State Government.|
|↑9||Akdoğan, Mehmet, Mehmet Numan Tamer, Erkan Cüre, Medine Cumhur Cüre, Banu Kale Köroğlu, and Namik Delibaş. “Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism.” Phytotherapy Research 21, no. 5 (2007): 444-447.|
|↑10||Cortisol and stress: How to stay healthy, Scott, Elizabeth.|
|↑11||Gibson, Edward Leigh. “Emotional influences on food choice: sensory, physiological and psychological pathways.” Physiology & behavior 89, no. 1 (2006): 53-61.|
|↑12||Gali-Muhtasib, Hala, Christo Hilan, and Carla Khater. “Traditional uses of Salvia libanotica (East Mediterranean sage) and the effects of its essential oils.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 71, no. 3 (2000): 513-520.|
|↑13||Iodine, Linus Pauling Institute.|