THE HERBAL WEIGHT-LOSS DIET: HOW DO HERBAL WEIGHT-LOSS PRODUCTS WORK?
The most popular herbal products on the market contain a veritable bouquet of some of the most stimulating herbs on earth, like guarana, ephedra (or ma huang), kola or bissey nut, capsicum or cayenne pepper, and others. While small amounts of these herbs have benefits that do not include weight loss, they were never intended to be combined to stimulate the body so violently.
Symptoms that accompany the use of these products can include nervousness, agitation, hand tremor, insomnia, palpitations, trembling, weakness, sweating, a feeling of warmth, chilly sensation, nausea, and vomiting. Other side effects include nervousness, headache, insomnia, dyspnea or shortness of breath, a tired feeling, thirst, drowsiness, feeling of distress in the area of the heart and stomach, flushing of the skin, tingling and numbness of the extremities, anorexia, constipation, quivering feeling, faintness and diuresis (excessive urination). Users of excessive amounts of herbal stimulants may experience elevated blood pressure.
Yes, these herbal combinations may make a person feel a surge in energy. It feels good after the exhaustion caused by low thyroid function, poor dietary choices, insufficient adrenal output, or possibly hundreds of other conditions that have left the person feeling exhausted. Unfortunately, the type of energy users now feel is what we nutritionists call a "false high." The energy they are experiencing is not the type of sustained energy that comes from improving the health of the body or from providing superior nutrition to feed the energy-hungry cells of the body. It comes rather at the expense of the endocrine system by over-stimulating the adrenals and sending the central nervous system into a frenzy of activity.
Many users of herbal weight-loss products describe the feeling they get from ephedra-based products as the same type of high they experienced using recreational drugs. And many of them have become just as addicted to herbal stimulants as they were to street drugs.
One client recently discussed her personal history of drug use that dates back a couple of decades into her teens and twenties when she used a substantial amount of uppers and other drugs. When she got married, she abandoned her drug habit and gave birth to several children. With the birth of each child, her energy levels dropped lower and lower until finally, after the last child was born, she hardly had the strength to pull herself off the couch and take care of them. Obviously, the nutritional needs of her body had not been met during her childbearing years!
Finally, in an attempt to get her health and energy back, she enrolled in an aerobics class at a local gym with a group of other young mothers. One day while discussing her declining energy levels, one of the moms pulled her aside and said, "You know, I used to feel the same way, but now I use herbal weight-loss products that contain ephedra, and my old energy is back. Don't worry; they are totally natural so they are safe. You can buy them at your local health food store…"
Our young mother visited her health food store. Sure enough, she saw a stack of herbal weight-loss pills displayed prominently on the counter, laced with enough ephedra to pull up her energy and pull down her adrenal gland. She bought a bottle and started taking them. Before long, her energy was up to what she remembered it could be but she described the experience this way: "It feels like I'm back on street drugs. Can this be good for me?"
She had reason to be concerned. If she continued to use the products, her critical energy shortage would drop even further. Sooner or later, she would face the consequences in a burned-out adrenal gland and an exhausted nervous system. I worked with her over several months to wean her off the herbal products, then put her on nutrients to restore her own natural energy. It may take her a year or more to recuperate!
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