Weight loss, the Ayurvedic system

Trying to get rid of extra pounds is a challenge, but one well worth taking on. Aside from the aesthetic aspect, obesity causes numerous avoidable health problems. Dieting can create difficulties as well, and often weight lost this way is gained back. We know that weighing too much is usually not just a function of eating too much; there are many other factors involved. A weight loss program should, aside from the obvious, seek to restore health and help the body not to regain the lost weight.

There are a number of herbs which can help the body return to proper functioning, some of the most promising of which are from the Ayurvedic system of natural medicine  –  the oldest known health care plan. The hottest natural weight loss ingredient on the market today, Garcinia cambogia extract containing hydroxycitric acid, is the first in a series of old solutions, presented to a new, receptive audience.

Metabolic process and weight gain

An increase in fat tissue may lead to a decrease in the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which usually results in a poor performance of this important hormone which regulates sugar and fat in our body. The balanced metabolization of these substances affects our everyday performance of physical, mental and emotional activities. It also plays a role in the long term prevention of heart disease and other degenerative conditions.

There appears to be a link in some people between excessive weight gain and a sluggish metabolism. Metabolism rate and intensity is influenced by hormones produced by the thyroid. Thus a slowdown of metabolism may be due to insufficient thyroid function, leading to an increase in fat tissue as well as an accumulation of by-products and delayed evacuation of toxic metabolites.

The metabolic process which generates energy is called “thermogenesis,” and is a heat-producing effect. An increase in the metabolic rate is proportionate to the heat energy dissipated. Eating a meal should cause heat energy production to increase. People who have trouble losing weight often do not respond to food consumption with an adequate thermogenic effect. They suffer not from weak will power, but rather from poor metabolic response, which may have the additional impact of lowering the body’s defense against disease. Many of today’s natural products address metabolism and weight gain. Garcinia cambogia extract, piper longum extract, Gugulipid, Triphala and Gymnema are all derived from 40, the ancient Indian tradition which seeks to achieve optimum health by balancing the body, the mind and the spirit. 40 seeks to alleviate disease, not by elimination of a single cause in the mechanistic manner of conventional medicine, but by restoring the body’s equilibrium, which in turn will take proper care of the symptoms. This applies very effectively to excessive weight gain.

Ayurvedic Herbs Which Aid Weight Loss and Related Conditions

Garcinia cambogia, known as hydroxycitric acid or HCA this extremely popular extract is from the Indian fruit of Garcinia cambogia, in the tamarind family. HCA diverts glucose from being used as building blocks of fatty tissue and increases the body’s supply of stored glucose, called glycogen. Glycogen turns off food cravings. The end result, confirmed by clinical testing is that a person eats less, and converts less food into body fat.

Calcium salt of HCA is commonly available as an ingredient in many powdered weight loss products under the trade names Citrin and Citrimax. This ingredient named Citrin-K is a new form of HCA, potassium salt of HCA. This kind is water soluble, and can therefore be used as an addition to beverages. Since it provides supplemental potassium, Citrin-K can be important in replenishing water and minerals lost with sweat. This ingredient will appear in products sometime this year.

Piper longum extract Containing 1-2% of piperine, a natural alkaloid form piper longum (long pepper), and piper nigrum.

Piper longum extract aids the body’s thermogenic response mainly by promoting thyroid hormone production and increasing metabolism. It also helps digestion and absorption of nutrients. It may be identified as piper longum, piperine or the trade name Bioperine.

Capsicum, from cayenne pepper, has energizing and heating properties, especially when used in combination with piper longum. Piper longum and capsicum together seem to exert an additive thermogenic effect by stimulating heat generating neurohormones.

Capsicum has acrid properties and should be used with caution because it may irritate stomach mucosa.

Gugulipid, extracted from commiphora wightii, has both cholesterol lowering and weight loss properties. In a double blind, crossover clinical study, gugulipid administered daily for four weeks to 60 overweight patients resulted in a significant drop in total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Gugulipid also stimulates thyroid functions and thermogenic neurohormones.

Alkaloid ephedrine, from Ma-huang or Sida cordifolia, has thermogenic properties with resulting weight loss.

Ma-huang plants contain 1 to 1.2% ephedrine, compared with .08 to .13% in Sida cordifolia. Sida cordifolia, considered one of the most important herbs in 40, contains additional active principles such as vasicine, which improves respiration and contributes to a better metabolism. Ephedrine administered long term results in increased metabolism and a decrease in body fat. Caution should be used with ephedrine, as large doses may have a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system. Caution should be exercised with products which contain both caffeine and ephedrine.

Triphala is a powdered mixture of three varieties of dried fruits, terminalia chebula, terminalia bellerica and emblica officianalis. These three ingredients have been used either separately or in combination with numerous Ayurvedic formulae for centuries. The first Ayurvedic diet formula, mentioned in approximately 600 B.C. included these ingredients. According to traditional explanation, Triphala normalizes equilibrium of the three elements of the body (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) by improving digestion and absorption of food, which are often faulty in overweight people.

A group of 70 people involved in a Triphala-based Ayurvedic formula study lost significantly more pounds than did the placebo group during a three-month study (10 pounds lost compared with 5.3 pounds, respectively). No side effects were reported.

Any weight loss program should be aimed at improvement of health before simple aesthetics. Aerobic exercise and sensible nutrition should be the cornerstones of an attempt to lose weight. However, natural weight loss products will enhance the program and help to achieve the desired effect.

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