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Chinese Herbs for Weight Loss



Staff Member
Aug 11, 2010
Optimizing weight loss using herbs and a food system developed over centuries. Why Traditional Chinese Herbalists don't expect the latest fad diets to work for everyone.

Controlling weight can be a frustrating process. Especially when there are so many different weight loss diets with conflicting information about what works and what doesn’t. Each weight loss program has its proponents but no diet plan works for everyone. Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine has long been helping people lose weight. Following the philosophy of bringing the body into balance, foods are used as another tool to enhance wellness while individual differences are taken into account.

Salads May Not Be Right For Everyone

Salads are a staple of a number of weight loss diets and raw foods in general are growing in popularity for various health reasons. But these choices may be wrong for some people, especially those who tend to feel cold and fatigued.

Viewed from the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the digestive system is like a wood burning furnace. If the fire in the furnace is low, putting cold, wet wood on it will damp it further, perhaps even put it out. For people with poor digestion, raw foods are like that damp wood. The furnace has to work very hard to burn them. Warming or partially cooking foods may help tremendously in these cases. It isn’t necessary to cook things to death, simply sautéing or lightly steaming vegetables can enhance the ability to digest them. Most herbs and spices are warming according to TCM theory. Adding them to foods will also aid in the digestive process.

For non-vegetarians with poor digestion, it is important to cook meats well and keep the quantity low and quality high. Think of that furnace, partially burned wood is easier to burn. Hardwoods burn more slowly-meats fall into the hardwood category. Soups and stews are a staple of Chinese diets and are especially useful for those with weak digestive systems. The food is cooked slowly so less nutritional value is lost and yet the end product is easy to digest. Marinating meats is another way to ‘season the wood’ so it burns more readily.

Kinds of Chinese herbs for weight loss

The Chinese have classified weight loss herbs into three categories. The first of the category of herbs includes the kind that transforms phlegm according to Chinese medicine. Such herbs have two fold benefits. The first benefit is that they help the body in the processing of fat.

The second action that they have is that they prevent the unhealthy fats and fluids from accumulating in the body. Popular herbs that fall in this category include immature citrus peel, citrus aurantium, glechoma, hawthorn berry and magnolia bark.

Chinese metabolism herbs

The second category of herbs works to increase the metabolism of the body by increasing the qi and yang energy of the body. The popular ginseng, epimedium, cinnamon, ginger, eucommia bark, atractylodes and astragalus are some of the herbs that fall in this category.

By aiding the process of weight loss such herbs offer encouragement to the individual helping him to stick with his diet plan and exercise routine. Along with making the metabolism of the body more efficient the above mentioned Chinese herbs for weight loss promote healthy digestion. Generally, the above mentioned herbs are great for getting rid of weight that accumulates around the belly.

Chinese Detoxifying Herbs

The third category of weight loss herbs includes the bitter tasting detoxifying herbs. These herbs act as natural appetite suppressants. They perform this functioning by reducing the inflammatory and acidic conditions present in the body which are responsible for developing food cravings. Making use of these herbs will allow the individuals to resist oily, spicy and sweet food that in unhealthy quantities by curbing their cravings. Popular herbs in this category include scute, coptis and rhubarb.

Similarly there are other herbs that help to balance out emotional conditions that may lead to over eating. Certain individuals take to food because of sadness, depression, stress or anxiety. Making use of Chinese herbs can help prevent such sporadic eating. Magnolia bark, mint zizyphus, bupleurum root, longan fruit and biota seeds are some of the herbs that can be used for this purpose.

In a nutshell we find that the use of Chinese herbs help promote weight loss by making the metabolic process more efficient, boosting the energy level of the body, promoting healthy digestion along with a positive mental frame of mind. In order to truly benefit from Chinese herbs for weight loss the individual will be required to stick to their diet plan and exercise routine.


How do we use these herbs? Are they available in some kind of extract form? I've heard most herbs are used in 'chai' or taken in the form of tea, and do they have any side effects? The reason why I'm asking is that there are other natural herbs or plant extracts like ephedrine which guarantee weight loss, but they do have their side effects, and cannot be taken for a long period of time. Moreover, they are not recommended for people suffering from health problems such as heart disease, diabetes etc.