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Herbal aids to Weight Loss with Ciara O'Meara

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Ciara O'Meara - Medical Herbalist

Herbs to aid Weight Loss

Many of us might be considering ways in which we can beat the post Christmas bulge this year, especially with the extended cold snap. Others may be looking at bigger weight loss goals. If you are overweight, and have not participated in exercise for a time it is important that you get checked out by your GP before engaging in an exercise program.

Herbs can help in this respect, but they must be considered in the context of other dietary and lifestyle changes. It is also important to note that if you are taking medications and would also like to start including herbs in your program, that you consult a professional medical herbalist as some herbs can change the way certain drugs are metabolised by the body, please see for a listing.

Ireland is fast becoming the most obese nation in the EU. Recent reports have found that in Ireland one in twelve children between 5 and 12 are being classed as obese. If this trend continues we will see a further increase in type 2 diabetes, leading to a multitude of other health complications which will shorten our life span and have a major impact both on our quality of life and our children's quality of life.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, eating habits and most importantly a healthy relationship with food is fundamental in the fight against Diabetes and controlling obesity.

Some Guidelines

. Look at your relationship with food, if you are overeating or have a poor diet for emotional reasons, or negative attitudes towards yourself this need's to be looked at firstly.

. Think of the changes you are making as life-style choices rather than the dreaded word diet.

. Remove highly processed and refined foods from your diet, they are high in fat and sugar, generally devoid of vitamins and minerals and will slow your metabolism.

. If you are changing your diet it is important that you engage in regular exercise to move blood and lymph around the body and also to maintain muscle mass.

. Include more whole foods in your diet, this basically means foods closer to their natural form, vegetables, brown rice and other grains such as quinoa and amaranth. These foods are nutrient dense and will help reduce sugar cravings as they release energy much slower than processed and highly refined foods.

Here are some examples:

Refined foods:

Refined white sugar, cane juice, dried cane juice, cane sugar
White flour , semolina , spaghettis , noodles , pastas

White flour wheat bread

Refined oils and fats: canola oil, margarine, deep frying oils, nearly all oils in prepared foods, pastries , chips, breads, soups and treats.

Low-fat dairy products (dairy with its fat removed reduces fat available for absorption of fat soluble vitamins D and A important in laying down new bone, just eat less)

Whole foods:

Unrefined cane juice or powder, barley malt, date sugar, rice syrup.
Sesame butter, nut butters
Unrefined cold-pressed flaxoil, unrefined olive oil, unrefined sesame oil and other quality oils

Whole wheat spaghettis, noodles and pastas: spelt, brown rice, buckwheat.

Whole wheat breads, whole-rye, barley, spelt, oat , corn, rice and other wholewheat breads.

Full fat dairy products, organic and non-homogenised where possible.

Seaweeds - Spirulina - capsules: Reduces Fatty Cravings:

Spirulina is a rich source of protein and is ideal for those who consume too many animal products and refined fatty foods and are on a weight loss program to exclude these. The protein digestibility of Spirulina is rated at about 85% versus 20% for beef.

It will help with the cravings experienced by some for these high protein foods, additionally it has a cleansing and protective effect on the kidneys and the Liver, and it nourishes the blood and promotes good bacteria in the bowel.

It is a rich source of GLA and omega 3 oils which are useful for burning fats and controlling inflammatory conditions. It contains valuable mucopolysaccharides which strengthen body tissues especially the connective tissues making them more elastic and resilient to damage.This is an ideal supplement for those who are active or in-training and also for older people.

Alfalfa -sprouted - seeds to be put in a jar with a popsock and grown over 24 hours.

Good for digestion, reduces craving for fats, carbs. Good for any change you put your body through, or if you have irritable bowel syndrome or any other digestive problem.

During sprouting the vitamin and enzyme content of a plant increases dramatically, the process of sprouting predigests the nutrients in the seed making them more bio-available to the body and easier to assimilate.

Al- fal- fa named by the Arabs means father of all foods, each tiny seed can produce roots that reach 100 foot into the earth, as such the seeds will contain large amounts of trace minerals and vitamins including; carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sodium , sulphur, silicon, cobalt and zinc it also contains abundant chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is purifying to the body organs, has anti-inflammatory actions and can aid in cell regeneration and renewal.

It is an ideal addition to a weight loss program as it contains 8 different enzymes which help the body assimilate proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Alfalfa is an ideal detoxing sprout; it is especially healing where there has been any damage to the digestive tract.

How to take it:

Alfalfa can be taken in a salad, lightly cooked - added to soups, or juiced.

How to sprout: if its your first time trying this start with a small quantity of seeds.

You will need a wide mouthed jam jar, an elastic band, and alfalfa seeds.

1. Using one part seed to three parts water, soak the seeds for a minimum of 6 hours.

2. Rinse off the water and place the jar in a darkened area at about 18 degrees Celsius.

3. Rinse the sprouts twice daily in clean water (bottled water is best), rinsing thoroughly.

4. After about 3 days place the jar in indirect sunlight to induce chlorophyll, continue rinsing daily until the sprouts are ready, remove the outer hulls as seeds sprout as they easily rot.

5. They will keep for a week in the fridge

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)- Teabags and Powder/Leaves- Stimulates metabolism and fat burning:

Green tea and black tea both come from the same plant, the difference is that black tea is fermented, elevating the tannin content, while green tea is steamed to preserve its medicinal qualities.

It is jam-packed full of anti-oxidants, which mop up free-radicals in the body which are generated by smoking, chemicals etc. It has can help reduce cholesterol as part of a healthy diet. A component of Green tea Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is associated with boosting metabolism in the body and reducing insulin resistance.

Green tea is not caffeine free though for those who are sensitive to caffeine.
Recommended dosage 4-5 cups a day.

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) - Drops - Reduces Sweet Cravings:

This amazing plant is useful in the control of hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood). It also helps sugar cravings, it has the remarkable effect on anaesthetising the sweet taste buds on the tongue, fortunately if only lasts for an hour or so, but it really does work!

Preliminary trails have shown this herb to be of benefit in non-insulin dependent diabetes patients. It has also shown restorative action on the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.

NOTE: It is extremely important that you do not make any changes to your diabetes medications without consulting your GP.

Dosage: spray on tongue as required for sugar cravings.
Seek advice of a medical herbalist if there is a pre-diabetic state of health.

Burdock root (Arcticum lappa) - Actual Root and Capsules - Stimulates Digestion:

Burdock root is a bitter herb as such it will have a detoxifying effect on the liver by stimulating digestion and increasing bile flow. It also contains plant or phyto-chemicals which promote friendly bacteria in the gut. It has a long history of use as a blood purifier in chronic skin conditions which may be the result of a build up of toxins in the system.
It can be taken in tincture form as directed.

Cinnamon - Sticks and Powder - Eases out your Sugar Metabolism-Keeps you full for longer:

Cinnamon is a sweet spicy herb made from the powdered bark of this tree. It is a wonderful tasty addition to a breakfast like porridge, alternatively you can mix a couple of spoonfuls of it with some glycerine and use it as a sweetener for tea and drinks. It can also be added to natural yoghurt. It has a soothing effect on the stomach.
Current research has found that one eight of a teaspoon of cinnamon can triple insulin efficiency. Taking a small amount of cinnamon with each meal may help control blood sugar levels.

To use as a sugar substitute mix two teaspoons of the powdered herb with 30mls of glycerine, use as required.

Do not take if you are being treated for diabetes before consulting with a professional.

Although rare some individuals may experience allergy to cinnamon.


. Spirulina - Capsules
. Gymnema - Drops for mouth
. Green tea - Bags and Powder
. Alfalfa sprouted - seeds - jar and pop sock
. Burdock Root Capsules and actual physical root
. Cinnamon Powder and Sticks

Prices/Stockists/Relevant Information

Health Food Stores / Asian Food Stores / Shoots from Dunnes