Many of us who to try to keep in shape usually do a number of things to stay healthy including exercise and eating right. But, what happens when those things aren't enough? I personally have reached stages in my life where keeping my weight off was a struggle, even when I thought I was doing everything right. There is hope however! So before you fall off the edge of your seat, let’s discuss some natural and safe holistic ways you can stay slim. There are a number of holistic herbs and medicinal foods one can incorporate in their life to help keep your weight in check. This is especially true if you feel you’ve hit a plateau or your metabolism is sluggish. So let's check them out!
1. DETOX YOUR BODY
One of the more commonly overlooked reasons someone is not losing weight is liver toxicity (also referred to as toxic burden of the liver). The liver is the main organ in our body that helps to process toxins in food, water, and blood. Even people who eat the most "healthy" diets, tend to end up with a sluggish liver at some point. This can be especially true for those of us who consume a larger number of vitamins and supplements- remember the liver processes everything! When our diets are full of hidden toxins, our liver becomes sluggish causing it to be fatty and not work optimally. So what can we do to help detoxify your liver? Some great herbs that help to detoxify the liver include dandelion, burdock root, and milk thistle. Drinking a daily detox tea is a simple solution. I suggest starting with one week on and take a week off to let your body recuperate and then repeat.
2. STAY HYDRATED- it will help cleanse the body! It sounds cliché, but it’s crucial when you are detoxing. You want to make sure you are flushing everything out properly and the best way to do that is by drinking clean purified water and make sure you are staying hydrated! The first thing you should reach for in the morning which helps kick start your metabolism is room temperature water with lemon. This also helps cleanse the body and keep it alkaline. Staying hydrated and drinking half your weight in water every day is ideal. For instance if you weigh 150 lbs, multiply that by .5 = 75 ounces per day. Included in this can be fresh juices such as celery, kale, cucumber, beet, and watermelon which also help to cleanse the colon and hydrate the body. Organic and pesticide free is best.
3. HAVE YOUR HORMONES AND THYROID CHECKED
Another reason you may not be losing weight are your thyroid hormones, cortisol, and/or sex hormones may be out of balance. These are the big players that help control our metabolism and weight loss. Our thyroid gland is like the human control panel for our entire body's endocrine system. Some culprits of thyroid and hormone dysfunction are toxins such as pesticides and heavy metals, as well as foods that may be causing inflammation in the body. Gluten sensitivities and other food intolerances can cause an inflammatory response in the body which can alter our microbiome and weaken our immune response. It can also cause antibodies to start to attack your thyroid gland. If you suspect that your hormones could be the cause of unwanted weight gain, ask your doctor to run a complete thyroid panel of blood work. This includes checking for not only for T3 and T4 (their free and total form), TSH, Reverse T3, and Thyroglobulin Antibody (ATA) and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody (TPO).
Next, be sure to have your sex hormones checked. This includes estrogen and progesterone for women and Testosterone for men. PCOS and low T cause estrogen dominance in men and women which can lead to weight gain. High cortisol levels spike blood glucose and can cause our entire endocrine system to be out of sync. To help lower cortisol, stress reduction is of upmost importance. It is also critical to minimize eating unrefined carbohydrates like cookies, crackers, alcohol and pasta. It is also important to incorporate meditation, breathing exercises and a good sleep pattern. Any other activity that gives you some relaxation each day should not be overlooked. Both men and women can have high estrogen and women can have higher than normal testosterone too. Symptoms can include fatigue, moodiness, low sex drive and more. Be sure to focus on eating unprocessed foods that are high in fiber to help keep excess toxins down.
Now that we discussed some contributing factors and root causes to stubborn weight loss, let’s get into some of my go to herbs and foods that can get you past your weight loss plateau and assist to bring some of those hormones back in balance.
4. KELP- kelp is a seaweed found deep in the ocean that is high in iodine and magnesium. Kelp has a high iodine content that helps keep the thyroid healthy especially when it is sluggish. Kelp can be especially important to those with hypothyroidism. Kelp also contains a fiber called alginate, which blocks the absorption of fat in the gut. You can incorporate dried kelp into your diet by sprinkling it over food during meals.
5. ADAPTOGENIC HERBS- Adaptogenic herbs are known for their ability to help our bodies adapt to stress. This includes conditions such as adrenal fatigue and high cortisol levels. This occurs when we are under chronic stress. When our bodies are under constant states of stress our glucose levels spike, blocking our ability to use insulin. This causes excess weight gain. Herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) ,Panax (ginseng), Cordyceps Mushrooms, Rhodiola rosea, and licorice root can all help stabilize our response to stress in the body. This in turn will help balance cortisol, glucose, as well as boost stamina and energy. Ashwagandha is literally referred to and nicknamed “the strength of ten horses” in Ayurveda. This is because it is known for its ability to help boost stamina and endurance. Some ways you can include these herbs are in the form of powders, capsules, tinctures, or dried herbal teas. Tinctures are always more concentrated and easier forms to consume than teas. They will also be absorbed easier and faster than a capsule will in the digestive tract. Look for high quality organic supplements from a reputable source. As always, please check with your alternative medicine practitioner or physician before incorporating any new forms of herbs or supplements. Especially if you are on medications since they can cause potential reactions.
6. CAPSAICIN- Also known as cayenne pepper, capsaicin is a warming food and it helps suppress appetite and boost metabolism. However, sprinkling cayenne pepper over food will most likely not lead to the results you are looking for. In order to get a therapeutic dose of capsaicin, you would need to consume a capsule form.
7. GREEN COFFEE BEAN EXTRACT- Some small studies suggest that incorporating green coffee bean extract may accelerate weight loss. It contains a compound called chlorogenic acid. This helps block the absorption of glucose, thereby aiding weight loss.
8. GRAPEFRUIT- Last but not least on my list is grapefruit. Grapefruit contains an enzyme called AMPK- activated protein kinase. When it gets activated by the grapefruits naturally occurring chemical compounds, it helps boost metabolism. Again, please check with your physician because grapefruit can interfere with some medications.
Now that we have discussed the major root causes of stubborn weight gain or inability to lose
weight, you can review some of these with your integrative medicine doctor or holistic medicine practitioner. Though symptoms can show long before blood work is off, don’t overlook getting lab work done. If you suspect that you feel off, your gut is usually right. Start following and incorporating some of these tips in your routine now, they can only help in the long run to better your health. Wishing everyone a healthy and blessed summer!
by Adriana Schneider
About the Guest Author:
Adriana Schneider is a Holistic Registered Nurse, International Board Certified
Lactation Consultant, Certified Herbalist, and Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She is a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association, American Cannabis Nurses Association,
and most recently formed her own Natural Health and Skincare Product line called The Herb
Nurse. Adriana formulated over 90% of the products for her product line, The Herb Nurse. She
has been an active member in the holistic health community for over a decade and has
volunteered for several health advocacy networks and groups. Adriana also offers one on one
Holistic Health Consulting.
To learn more about Adriana Schneider and her product line, please visit