In a new study, researchers have conducted the first global review of herbal medicines for weight loss in 19 years, finding insufficient evidence to recommend any current treatments.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Sydney.
With overweight and obesity rates reaching epidemic proportions worldwide, many people are turning to herbal supplements as an alternative approach to maintain or lose weight.
Herbal medicines, or “herbal supplements” as they are commonly known, are products containing a plant or combination of plants as the active ingredient.
They come in various forms including pills, powders or liquids.
Common herbal supplements used for weight loss include green tea, garcinia cambogia, white kidney bean, and African mango.
The problem with these supplements is that unlike pharmaceutical drugs, clinical evidence is not required before they are made available to the public in supermarkets or chemists.
In the study, the team analyzed the latest international research findings. This included 54 randomized controlled trials comparing the effect of herbal medicines to placebo for weight loss in over 4000 participants.
They found that despite some of the herbal medicines showing greater weight loss than placebo, weight loss was less than 2.5kg and therefore not of clinical significance.
This study suggests there is insufficient evidence to recommend any of these herbal medicines for the treatment of weight loss.
Furthermore, many studies had poor research methods or reporting and even though most supplements appear safe for short-term consumption, they are expensive and are not going to provide a weight loss that is clinically meaningful.
The team says the growth in the industry and the popularity of these products highlights the importance of conducting more robust studies on the effectiveness and safety of these supplements for weight loss.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Nick Fuller.
The study is published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.
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