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More herbal weight-loss therapies validated


Black pepper

The festivities are over. But the extra fat and kilos gained over the Yuletide are here with us. However, scientists have validated more natural therapies that could help us shed the extra kilogrammes and prevent the attendant obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure, infertility and cancer associated with weight gain. CHUKWUMA MUANYA (Assistant Editor) writes.

Black pepper could help in battle against obesity
Black pepper could help in the fight against obesity, new research suggests. Piperonal, a compound in the seasoning, was found to ‘significantly’ reduce the harmful effects of a high-fat diet when fed to rats. In the Indian study, those given it as a supplement for six weeks had a lower body weight, body fat percentage and blood sugar levels as well as stronger bones compared to animals fed fatty foods only and no pepper.

The study was published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism.In a separate study, the United Kingdom (U.K.) researchers at Imperial College London discovered mutations in a gene related to obesity and have suggested “obesity is not always gluttony’.Interestingly, the Indian researchers believe piperonal may counteract some of the genes that are associated with being severely overweight.

Both teams hope their findings can produce a new treatment for obesity, rates of which have nearly tripled worldwide since 1975.Botanically called Piper nigrum, Black pepper belongs to the plant family, Piperaceae. Local names are unknown. The fruits and seeds are used to cure dyspepsia (indigestion), diarrhoea, cholera, piles, urinary problems, boils, rheumatism, toothaches and headaches.


According to a study published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Piper nigrum is a well-known spice considered as ‘‘The King of spices’’ among various spices. It contains a pungent alkaloid “piperine” which is known to possess many pharmacological actions. Piperine increases bioavailability of many drugs and nutrients by inhibiting various metabolising enzymes.

Piper nigrum and its active constituent “Piperine” exhibits diverse pharmacological activities like antihypertensive, antiplatelet, antioxidant, antitumor, anti-asthmatics, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, antispasmodic, antidepressants, immune-modulatory, anticonvulsant, anti-thyroids, antibacterial, antifungal, hepato-protective, insecticidal and larvicidal activities among others.

How the pepper study was carried out. Researchers from Sri Venkateswara University in India carried out the experiment on obese rats that were fed a high-fat diet for 22 weeks.They extracted piperonal from black pepper seeds and added it to the rodents’ diets from the 16-week point.

At the end of the study period, this group had increased lean body mass, bone mineral concentration (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) compared with the control group of animals. Piperonal supplementation also considerably decreased their blood glucose level after just 60 minutes when compared with control rats.

The team discovered that the preventative effects were maximized at a dosage of 40 mg per kg of body weight, administered for a 42-day period. Furthermore, the results suggested that piperonal might have helped to regulate some of the genes that are associated with obesity.

Writing in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, the study authors said: “Our findings demonstrate the efficacy of piperonal as a potent anti-obesity agent, provide scientific evidence for its traditional use and suggest the possible mechanism of action.”

Extract of wild mango seed shows promise in obesity treatment
Can eating Ogbono soup help overweight persons shed some kilos, reduce abdominal fat, lower their cholesterol and chances of developing diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, stroke, kidney failure, high blood pressure?

A study published in Lipids in Health and Disease suggests that an extract derived from the seed (Ogbono) of West African mango may help overweight people shed kilogrammes, lower their cholesterol and chances of developing degenerative diseases.

Researchers in other studies found that the fruit of Irvingia gabonensis could be used to reduce abdominal fat, and stop diarrhoea and ulcer.Lab research has shown that extracts from the plant’s seed may inhibit body fat production, through effects on certain genes and enzymes that regulate metabolism.

A person is said to be obese when the ratio of the weight in kilogrammes over the height in square metres, that is the Body Mass Index (BMI), is more than 30; overweight when the BMI is between 25 and 30; and healthy weight when the BMI is between 20 and 25.The seed of Irvingia gabonensis is the basic ingredient of the popular tasty delicacy, Ogbono soup. The fruit looks like mango; but leaves a bitter after taste. The seed, slimy when it touches water, is used in cooking Ogbono soup.

Botanically called Irvingia gabonensis, West African mango or Wild mango is a fruit commonly eaten in Nigeria, and indeed the whole of West Africa. It is also called native mango, bush mango, dika nut tree, and dika bread tree.In Nigeria, it is pekpeara in Nupe; ugiri (tree or fruit) or ogbono (kernel or seed) in Igbo; oro (the tree) or aapon (the kernel) in Yoruba; ogwi (the tree or fruit) in Benin; goron or biri in Hausa; uyo in Efik.

According to the current study, researchers at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon randomly assigned 102 overweight adults to take either the plant extract or a placebo twice a day for 10 weeks. The study participants did not follow any special diet and were told to maintain their normal exercise levels.

By the end of the study, the extract group had lost a significant amount of weight, an average of roughly 28 pounds, while the placebo group showed almost no change.At the same time, they showed declines in “bad” Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL) cholesterol and blood sugar levels. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol.

The study, titled “The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon,” was conducted by Judith L Ngondi, Julius E. Oben, and Samuel R Minka of the Nutrition, HIV and Health Research Unit, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde, Cameroon.


Dr. Julius E. Oben and his colleagues report the findings in the online journal Lipids in Health and Disease. The Fairfield, California-based Gateway Health Alliances, Inc. supplied the Irvingia gabonensis extract and partially funded the research.

The study is the first well-controlled clinical trial of the extract’s effectiveness as a weight-loss aid, the researchers note. But the findings, they write, suggest that Irvingia gabonensis could offer a “useful tool” for battling the growing worldwide problem of obesity and its related ills.
A few patients on the extract reported side effects, including headaches, sleep problems and gas, but the rates were similar in the placebo group. The findings, Oben’s team concludes, should “provide impetus for much larger clinical studies.”

Herbal weight loss mix makes wave in Europe
A herbal weight loss product developed by a Nigerian firm, the International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD), makers of Intercedd Health Products (IHP), with its international partners is making waves in Europe.The product simple called Flat Belly and made of some local herbs such as Moringa, Pigeon pea and cocoa promises a flat belly within three months of use.

InterCEDD is a subsidiary of Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), which is a non-governmental non-profit organization.A consultant pharmacognocist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of BDCP, Prof. Maurice Iwu, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian said the product was developed with a European partner and has been introduced in Europe.

Iwu explained: “Because of certain cultural issues, the formulation is quit different, theirs is liquid but ours is powder that means one has to dissolve in water before drinking. We had to wait for approval from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to introduce our own but with time it will be out in the market.

“We hope to introduce it online so that people can see it and get to buy if they are interested. Though many think that we are withholding for an international market but the fact is that we have not gotten the approval to start selling it.”

The pharmacognocist said port belly is actually a symptom of general obesity and more serious disease but sometimes people see it as a very simple thing. “It is advised that people watch out for what they do and how they do it. The port belly person is always identified by a lot of fat.

“Because of this we are looking at making a product; a mixture spices and herbs that can help reduce and burn off those fats and interestingly they call it flat belly. The whole idea is that over time it will be able to help people reduce that amount of weight they are carrying. Pot belly also puts a lot of pressure on the physique of the body of an individual.”

What is the advantage of Flat Belly over the conventional ones in pursuit of the flat belly? Iwu said: “The advantage is that this went through a rigorous scientific process even though people once accused us that we have not sold it in the country. This is the reason we have not brought it in. There is very well known agent that is called African bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis, Ogbono in Ibo). One of the saddest things that are happening is the scarcity of this agent.

“The African bush mango is so scarce that globally people are faking it. And as for the Ogbono, the issue is that we have not been able to get a steady source for manufacturing process like the industrial farm and because it is not a tree that grows over night. Also, the scarcity is one reason. In the market for instance there are many products that claim to be African mango in the American and British market like the Bush mango while they are not so. To use it, there has to be a lot of guarantees attached to it before producing.”

Senna (Cassia alata) leaves as natural quick weigh loss tea and anti acne lotion
Senna alata belongs to the plant family Leguminosae. It is also known as Craw-Craw plant or Ringworm plant (English), asunwon oyinbo (Yoruba), Nelkhi (Igbo), Filisko or Hantsi (Hausa) is an erect tropical, annual herb, which grows up to 0.15 m high.

Cassia plant extracts are the primary ingredient found in most “dieter’s teas”. The combination of acting as a stimulant which reduces a dieter’s appetite, and the laxative properties that cause food to move through their system before as many calories can be absorbed is a combination that can lead to rapid and even dangerous weight loss.

Sennas act as purgatives and are similar to aloe and rhubarb in having as active ingredients anthraquinone derivatives and their glucosides. The latter are called sennosides or senna glycosides. Senna alexandrina is used in modern medicine as a laxative; acting on the lower bowel, it is especially useful in alleviating constipation. It increases the peristaltic movements of the colon by irritating the colonic mucosa.

The plants are most often prepared as an infusion. Senna glycosides are listed as ATC code A06AB06 on their own and A06AB56 in combined preparations. Resveratrol was first isolated from Senna quinquangulata As regards other chemicals, the anti-inflammatory compound resveratrol was first isolated from S. quinquangulata, and Siamese Senna S. siamea contains barakol used to counteract aconitine poisoning…

“The combination of acting as a stimulant which reduces a dieter’s appetite, and the laxative properties that cause food to move through their system before as many calories can be absorbed is a combination that can lead to rapid and even dangerous weight loss…”

Aloe vera juice for weight loss?
People looking for quick weight-loss solutions sometimes turn to herbal products, such as those containing Aloe vera. Although these products may produce short-term weight loss, they are not likely to result in permanent weight loss and may have a number of side effects, according to the Cleveland Clinic.Most studies on Aloe vera and weight loss have used Aloe vera gel or supplements rather than Aloe vera juice, so it may not have the same effects.

An animal study published in Obesity Research & Practice in December 2008 showed a potential for plant sterols found in Aloe vera to improve body composition. In the study, obese rats given these plant sterols had lower levels of abdominal fat after 35 days than rats not given these sterols. This effect may also occur in people. A small preliminary study published in September 2013 in Nutrition found that obese people with diabetes or pre-diabetes who took an Aloe vera gel complex for eight weeks lost more weight and body fat than those not given this supplement. Larger long-term studies are needed to verify these effects.

Aloe vera may result in weight loss due to its laxative effect. Taking laxatives as a way to lose weight is a form of laxative misuse and can result in electrolyte imbalances that can cause numbness, weak muscles, seizures, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks and paralysis. Long-term laxative use can also interfere with your normal bowel function and cause incontinence or dependence on laxatives to have a bowel movement.

Aloe vera latex is commonly used in the treatment of constipation; the laxative effect of the anthraquinone glycosides found in Aloe vera latex is well established. In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of 28 healthy adults, aloin was reported to have a laxative effect compared to a placebo that was stronger than the stimulant laxative phenolphthalein. In subjects with chronic constipation, a novel preparation containing Aloe vera, celandine, and psyllium was found to improve a range of constipation indicators (bowel movement frequency, consistency of stools, and laxative dependence) in a 28-day double-blind trial; however, the effect of Aloe vera alone was not investigated in this study.

Aloe vera laxative preparations have been approved by the German Commission E governmental regulatory agency for use in the treatment of constipation as a second-line agent; however, Aloe latex is no longer recognized as an over-the-counter drug by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to a lack of sufficient data to establish its safety for use as a laxative.

Cabbage soup diet for weight loss?
The cabbage soup diet is generally considered a fad diet. As the name suggests, the diet requires that you eat large amounts of cabbage soup for a week. During that time, you can also eat certain fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken and brown rice, according to a set schedule.

Proponents of the cabbage soup diet say it’s a good way to quickly lose a few pounds. You may lose weight on the diet because it drastically limits calories. But it may not be fat that you’re losing. It might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it’s hard to burn that many fat calories in such a short period.Because the cabbage soup diet is low in complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, you shouldn’t stay on it for more than a week at a time.

The cabbage soup diet has other disadvantages. Depending on the recipe for cabbage soup, the diet can be high in sodium. The large amounts of cabbage also can make you more prone to flatulence. Because you are not getting proper nutrition, you may feel weak or tired while on the diet. And once you stop the diet, it’s easy to regain any weight that you lost.

Fad diets like this one may be tempting, but keep in mind that long-term weight loss depends on making lasting healthy changes in your eating and exercise habits.

The grapefruit weight loss diet – fad or science?
Eat half a grapefruit before each meal and lose 10 pounds in 10 days! Citrus does have a few powerful antioxidants with known cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects. But can it help with weight loss? A recent study looked at the age-old claim in an effort to get some answers.

The Grapefruit Diet, also known as the Hollywood Diet, or the Mayo Clinic Diet (although it’s not even remotely associated with the real Mayo Clinic), is based on the premise that grapefruit possesses near-magical powers.

Proponents of the diet claim that eating half a grapefruit before meals high in protein and fat produces a metabolic reaction that transforms even the meekest office worker into a magnificent fat-burning machine. The thermogenic powers supposedly stem from a special fat-burning enzyme in grapefruit that acts as a catalyst to help your body incinerate high fat foods, which in turn results in fast weight loss.

The Grapefruit Diet has been around that long. Eighty years ago puts us somewhere in the 1930s.The diet made a big resurgence in the 1970s when it was promoted as the “Mayo Clinic Diet.” As you can imagine, the doctors and dietitians at Mayo were not too happy about that.Have any clinical research studies evaluated grapefruit’s fat-burning enzyme potential? The answer to that is yes and no.

Early studies did suggest that subjects on the grapefruit diet would lose weight, but this was most likely due to calorie restriction rather than any special fat-burning properties of the grapefruit itself.A recent study evaluating the satiating effects of eating or drinking something low in calories before meals compared grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and water. The subjects lost weight, although not a lot. But it didn’t matter which of the pre-meal snacks they had. All had some small effect.

However, a second study showed the opposite. Subjects who ate grapefruit lost more weight than those who ate a placebo.Citrus, and in particular, grapefruit, contains two of these superstars, flavonones called naringin and hesperidin. Studies conducted in mice and rats have confirmed that naringin and hesperidin act as antioxidants in the fight against free radicals, and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Scientists have also looked at the effects of concentrated doses of naringin and hesperidin on rats. And at these high doses, we see even more evidence that phytochemicals lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Not only that, but in rats, wait for it… naringin appears to stimulate fat breakdown.

The subjects in the grapefruit group may not have lost much weight, but they did lose dangerous belly fat. They also lowered their systolic blood pressure and their Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL)/ ‘bad’ cholesterol. Because the diet they followed was pretty restricted, it’s reasonable to conclude that the phytochemicals in the grapefruit they ate likely helped.

Another factor that may have played a role was the quantity of vitamin C in their diet. Grapefruit is, of course, rich in vitamin C, and this vitamin is an antioxidant with known beneficial effects on blood pressure. So the improvements noted in these subjects could have arisen from the combined or synergistic effects of the vitamin C and grapefruit’s phytochemicals.

The apparent LDL-reducing effects of grapefruit are particularly interesting. Typically, doctors prescribe statins to people with high LDL. Statins are effective but they come with many nasty side effects. If compounds in grapefruit could reduce the need for these drugs, that would be a good thing. Today’s study seems to suggest that grapefruit could be helpful in this regard.

Other natural alternatives to laxatives for weight loss
If ones wishes to stay slim and get rid of water weight fast, then employ natural laxatives that are easily available. Here are a few among the most useful alternatives for laxatives.

1. Water
To lose water weight fast, drink not more than eight glasses of water every day. Water can keep you hydrated and helps speed up the digestion process.


2. Prunes
Prunes are a rich source of vitamin A and potassium. They also work as a great remedy for constipation, since they regulate the digestion process. Have enough prunes regularly and try to have them on an empty stomach to keep you from constipation and also to reduce weight fast.

3. Tender Coconut Water
Coconut water has a great impact in reducing the cholesterol level of the body. It could also be used to get rid of constipation. Instead of laxative pills, one can have coconut water every day to reduce body weight.

4. Legumes
The fiber-rich legumes can be consumed daily, in breakfast, to reduce weight fast. Since legumes have a lot of fibre, they help in weight loss quickly.

5. Beets and Cabbage
Have salads containing beets and cabbage. They are considered good for regulating the digestion process. You can also have beet juice or cabbage juice every day to reduce weight sooner.

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