In one of the largest meta-analytic reviews to date published in the peer-reviewed journal 'Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism', 54 randomised controlled trials were included to assess whether herbal supplements produce clinically meaningful results for weight loss. The authors considered weight loss of 2.5kg or more as the cut-off for clinically meaningful weight loss.
While some complementary therapies produced small and statistically significant losses in weight, none of the 54 RCTs found that herbal supplements were capable of promoting more than 2.5kg of weight loss, thus leading to the conclusion that no clinical trials have proven a clinically meaningful effect on weight loss.
In contrast, several prescription medications are available that are capable of generating weight loss ranging from 3 - 5kg or around 5% weight loss which is potentially more clinically meaningful than effects achieved with herbal supplements. However, there remains the potential for unwanted adverse effects.
Overweight and obese individuals looking to achieve a healthy weight should consult with their GP about available options and should consider a diet and lifestyle plan that is suitable and not rely overly on health supplements for a quick fix.
1. Maunder, A., Bessell, E., Lauche, R., Adams, J., Sainsbury, A., & Fuller, N. (2020). Effectiveness of herbal medicines for weight loss: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Obesity & Metabolism, 22(6), 891-903.
2. Ching Lee P, Dixon J. RACGP - Pharmacotherapy for obesity [Internet]. Racgp.org.au. 2021 [cited 14 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.racgp.org.au/