Lipolysis is the process of breaking down lipids, or fat, in the body. This process occurs naturally when the body requires extra fuel, such as during aerobic exercise. While there are no herbs to date that have been shown to induce lipolysis, some herbs may help the body burn fat and assist in weight loss. Always consult your health care provider before trying herbs or other natural supplements.
Green tea is the nonfermented version of black tea. It is a common beverage throughout Asia, where obesity is less of an epidemic than in the United States. For this reason, it has been examined as a possible weight-loss aid. In a 2011 study published in the "International Journal of Obesity," extracts of green tea appeared to reduce the effects of a high-fat diet in laboratory animals by increasing fat metabolism. While more studies are needed, it appears that green tea may help burn more fat when it's part of a healthy diet plan. Talk to your doctor before using green tea for medicinal purposes.
Licorice is a culinary spice with medicinal qualities. It is generally used by herbalists to treat digestive disorders and upper respiratory infections. Although it is not specifically considered a fat-burning herb, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some research indicates that it may help reduce overall body fat. The study, published in 2003 in the "Journal of Endocrinological Investigation," found that participants who took licorice for two months showed a significant reduction in body fat and body mass. More studies are warranted, so be sure to consult your health care provider before trying licorice to lose weight.
Cayenne pepper is a spicy plant used for a variety of purposes in herbal medicine. It is considered a natural analgesic and used to treat stomach ulcers, arthritis and general aches and pains. However, a 2010 study published in the journal "Nutrition and Metabolism" showed that it also helps the body burn more fat while at rest. Participants took 10 mg of capsinoids, found in cayenne pepper, while at rest and 90 minutes following exercise. Blood levels were recorded and showed decreases in concentrations of serum-free fatty acids. Of note, it did not appear to have the same effect during exercise. Again, more studies are needed to confirm that cayenne helps burn fat. Talk to your health care provider before trying cayenne pepper.
Bitter orange is an herbal remedy traditionally used in Chinese medicine. It has been used to treat indigestion, nausea, constipation and nasal congestion. Because of its stimulant effects, it also is used to speed up metabolism and assist in weight loss. Many weight-loss formulas use bitter orange in place of ephedra, which has been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that it may increase heart rate and have other adverse effects. Only use bitter orange under the direction of a licensed health care practitioner.
- "International Journal of Obesity"; Acute Effects of Epigallocatechin Gallate From Green Tea on Oxidation and Tissue Incorporation of Dietary Lipids in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet; M. Friedrich, et al.; July 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Licorice
- "Nutrition and Metabolism"; Effects of Capsinoid Ingestion on Energy Expenditure and Lipid Oxidation at Rest and During Exercise; A.Josse, et al.; August 2010
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Bitter Orange