Ayurvedic medicine has been around for thousands of years. It’s an Indian medicinal practice that’s closely related to Hinduism. If you wish to try ayurvedic medicine for weight loss, here’s everything you need to know about it.
We’ve also covered some of the popular ayurvedic medicinal herbs, and what research has to say about them.
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient medicinal practice that is believed to have originated from India, and it’s strongly connected to Hinduism. In the modern medical industry, Ayurveda is considered as a complementary and alternative approach.
It’s a holistic approach and according to Ayurveda, good health is a balance between the body, mind, and spirit. They also believe that all three of these things are in harmony with the universe, and you get sick if any of these are interrupted.
Ayurvedic practitioners generally believe that the human body is made out of five elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. They also believe that these elements combine to form three primary forces, also known as “doshas” that control how the human body works .
Another belief is that each person has a unique mix of the doshas, but one is usually stronger than the other. Disharmony of the doshas bring disease.
The forces that form from those five elements are:
Vata Dosha (ether and air)
Traditional ayurvedic practitioners believe that this is the most potent of all three doshas. They believe that Vata dosha controls the basic and most important human body functions such as cell division, breathing, blood flow, heart function, mind, and regulation of waste products.
It’s believed that those who have vata as their primary life force are more likely to develop conditions such as asthma, anxiety, heart, and skin problems.
Pitta dosha (fire and water)
This dosha is believed to be in charge of your digestion, metabolism, and appetite hormones. People who have this as their primary life force are believed to be more likely to develop conditions such as Crohn’s disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and infections.
Kapha dosha (water and earth)
Kapha dosha is believed to be in charge of muscle growth, body strength, weight, and immune system. People who have this as their primary life force are believed to be at a higher risk of developing breathing disorders, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
You may have come across a lot of herbal face and body mask recipes, and there’s a good chance that the majority of them have ayurvedic ingredients . A really popular one is a face and body mask made out of gram flour, turmeric, and milk. This mask is regularly used in Indian households, especially as a beautifying treatment for brides.
There’s an ayurvedic face mask for every skin type, and every skin problem. They also have herbal drinks, and tonics to boost skin health. For example, sandalwood essential oil and sandalwood powder are popular skin care ingredients in ayurvedic medicine. They have been used for all kinds of skin problems from heat rash, wounds, to psoriasis.
It makes sense why sandalwood has been praised as a wonderful product for skin problems because sandalwood is packed with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-bacterial properties .
Another popular health benefit of ayurvedic medicine is weight loss. There are so many different types of treatments and remedies for weight loss in ayurvedic medicine. For instance, in a 1990 study, seventy obese participants were randomized into four groups.
Three groups received ayurvedic drug treatments for three months, while one group received a placebo. Results revealed that those who were in the treatment group had significant weight reduction, measured by skin fold thickness and waist circumference, compared to their placebo counterparts. Labs, including serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, also improved. Furthermore, the study reported that the treatment group had no side effects .
In a 2012 study, fifty obese participants were randomized into two groups. One group received a herbal formulation of 900mg/day (divided into three doses), and the other group received a placebo in the same manner for eight weeks .
All of them were also on a calorie controlled diet (2000 cal/day) and did 30 minutes of walking for 5 days a week during the entire duration of the study. Results revealed that those in the treatment group had significant body weight and BMI reduction than those in the placebo group.
The participants in the herbal formulation group also had improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels (including LDL, LDL/HDL ratio, and triglycerides) than the placebo group, and they also had no adverse effects.
Turmeric is a popular ayurvedic herb with numerous science-backed health benefits. In a 2018 study, forty-seven high fat-induced diet obese rats were divided into 5 groups. One group continued the high-fat diet ad libitum .
The other four groups were put in a calorie restricted diet with curcumin only, piperine only (a theoretical enhancer of curcumin’s bioavailability and effectiveness), curcumin plus piperine, , or none of these. Results revealed that obese rats in the curcumin plus piperine group lost a significantly greater amount of body fat than the other groups when placed on a calorie restricted diet. Certain markers of inflammation in the blood were also significantly lower in this group.
There are a lot of proven remedies for stress and anxiety in ayurvedic medicine. One such popular remedy is Ashwagandha which has been slowly but steadily rising in popularity over the past decade.
In a 2012 study, 64 participants with chronic stress were assigned to receive either 300 mg capsule of Ashwagandha extract, twice a day every day for sixty days, or receive a placebo capsule in the same manner .
The study found out that those in the treatment group had a significant reduction in stress levels (as measured by a stress-assessment scale) and serum cortisol levels compared to the placebo group. They also noted that no serious adverse effects were found.
Ayurvedic medicine can be used to treat sexual dysfunction. For example, ashwagandha discussed above has been proven to be useful for treating sexual dysfunction.
In a 2015 study, fifty women were randomized to receive either a high-concentration ashwagandha extract (300 mg) capsule or a placebo twice daily for eight weeks. Results revealed that the women who consumed ashwagandha had significantly greater improvement in their sexual life compared to the placebo group .
In another 2010 study, ashwagandha was found to significantly improve semen quality in infertile men as well as reduce levels of oxidative stress .
Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, and there is a lot of emerging evidence to support its benefits. However, as with any other medical practice, ayurvedic medicine also runs the risk of being misused or used incorrectly.
The chances of receiving bad quality treatment are higher when you get it done from an unqualified practitioner without proper experience.
Thus you should make it your responsibility to check the credentials, training, and experience of the practitioners you receive treatment from.
You should also make it a priority to inform your practitioner about any health conditions that you may be suffering from, as well as any medications or supplements you may be taking.
It’s also important to note that most herbal medications are labeled as supplements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and thus they do not need to prove their health claims.
Some ayurvedic supplements and drinks can be contaminated with steroids, pesticides, antibiotics, or harmful metals.
Certain types of herbs can have deadly side effects such as liver damage and kidney failure. You really have to research each herbal product before deciding to consume them.
As stated earlier, you could sometimes end up receiving treatment from unqualified practitioners. So you have to research their credentials, and experience before choosing them.
Some common side effects of herbal supplements can include diarrhea, headache, nausea, and insomnia.
Here are some of the popular ayurvedic herbs and spices that have weight loss benefits.
In a 2012 study, forty-five rats were fed either a high-fat diet or a normal diet for 6 weeks, and after that, they were randomized into four groups. One was a normal diet (ND) group, one high-fat diet group (HFD), one HFD with aged garlic extract group, one HFD with exercise group, and one HFD with aged garlic extract and exercise group.
The experiment was carried out for four weeks. The results revealed that aged garlic extract with exercise had an anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering effect that was more powerful than either exercise or aged garlic powder alone .
In a 2016 study, 110 participants with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) were randomly assigned to receive either two 400 mg garlic powder tablets/day or two placebo tablets. Results revealed that the garlic group had a significant reduction in body weight and body fat mass compared to the placebo group .
In another 2016 study, high-fat diet induced obese mice were orally administered with 250 or 500 mg/kg of garlic extract fermented by lactic acid bacteria (LAFGE) for 8 weeks. Results revealed that garlic extract reduced the body weight of mice by 14%, and 18%, respectively .
The study concluded that LAFGE may be useful for treating high-fat diet induced obesity by inhibiting adipose tissue hypertrophy caused by the creation of new fat cells (adipogenesis).
One of the ways that ginger helps with weight loss is by suppressing appetite and aiding with digestion. In a 2012 study, 10 overweight men were assigned to eat their breakfast with or without a hot water beverage containing 2 g ginger powder .
The study found out that ginger consumption significantly reduced hunger and increased satiety.
In a 2014 study, high-fat diet-induced obese rats were administered different dosage of gingerol (a ginger extract) once daily for 30 days. Another group was treated with lorcaserin, a weight loss drug, for comparison.
Results revealed that obese rats treated with gingerol had a significant reduction in body weight and serum markers of obesity compared to the normal control group. Similar effects were observed in the lorcaserin-treated group. The study concluded that ginger supplementation may be useful for obesity caused by a high-fat diet .
A recent 2018 systematic review also provides convincing evidence of the weight loss benefits of ginger. They researched various databases such as PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect from 1995 until May of 2017 to draw reliable conclusions. They reviewed both human trials and animal studies .
They found out that ginger does appear to have weight loss lowering properties, and that it could modulate obesity via mechanisms such as increasing thermogenesis, promoting fat breakdown, decreasing fat cell creation, suppressing appetite, and inhibition of intestinal fat absorption. This review also points out the potential of ginger in obesity management, and the importance of future clinical trials.
In a 2015 study, 44 participants were treated with turmeric complexed with phosphatidylserine in phytosome form or with pure phosphatidylserine. Outcomes were analyzed at enrollment, and after 30, and 60 days .
Results revealed that turmeric increased weight loss from 1.88 to 4.91%, enhanced body fat reduction from 0.70 to 8.43%, increased waist reduction from 2.36 to 4.14%, and enhanced reduction of BMI from 2.10 to 6.43%.
In a 2018 systematic review, a research team analyzed various databases such as PubMed, SCOPUS , Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar up to August 2018 . A significant decrease in waist circumference from curcumin supplementation was only found in those studies conducted on overweight subjects, those studies conducted using at least 1000 mg of turmeric, and those studies that had a treatment duration of at least 8 weeks.
However, the research team did find a significant effect of turmeric on weight loss, and BMI from a sum total analysis of the data.
In a recent 2019 study, mice were assigned to receive a high-fat diet or a normal diet for 12 weeks. After that, they were assigned to receive a curcumin supplement, α-lipoic acid, or a combination of both for another 12 weeks .
Results revealed that the curcumin and α-lipoic acid combination was more effective for reducing weight gain in high-fat diet treated mice than either curcumin or α-lipoic acid individually.
In a 2015 study, 84 premenopausal women were randomly divided into 3 groups: a control group without diet restriction, a pair-fed placebo diet group only given as much food as the treatment group, and a lemon detox diet group. Results revealed that those in the lemon and pair-fed placebo diet group had a significant reduction in body weight, BMI, body fat, waist-hip ratio compared to the normal group. However, only those in the lemon diet group had significantly lower hsCRP, a marker of inflammation associated with cardiovascular health .
In a 2008 study, high-fat-diet-induced obese mice were divided into three groups: a low-fat diet group, a high-fat diet group, or a high-fat diet with 0.05% lemon polyphenols group. The experiment was carried out for 12 weeks. Results revealed that lemon polyphenols suppressed weight gain, body fat accumulation, and the development of elevated blood lipids, elevated blood sugar, and resistance to insulin .
In a 2011 study, 36 rats that were equally divided into two groups were administered an equivalent calorie diet, both with 20% carbohydrate but with the carbohydrate coming from different sources, either clover honey or sucrose . The experiment was carried out for 33 days and the results revealed that body weight gain was 14.7% lower in the honey group during the time period. Blood markers of obesity (triglycerides and leptin) were also lower in the honey-fed group.
The study concluded that compared to sucrose, honey may reduce weight gain and adiposity.
In a 2017 study, high-fat-diet-induced obese rats were given Gelam or Acacia honey or orlistat with their diet for 4 weeks. Results revealed that a significant reduction in weight gain and adiposity index was found in the rats fed with Gelam honey compared to the rats that only had a high-fat diet . Blood markers of obesity were improved in rats treated with both Gelam and Acacia honey. Orlistat caused anti-obesity effects but also had a negative impact on liver function.
In a 2016 study, 72 overweight participants were randomly divided into 3 groups. One group received high dose cumin cyminum and lime capsules, one group received low dose cumin cymnium and lime capsules, and one group received placebos twice daily for 8 weeks.
Results revealed that the high dose cumin group had significantly greater weight loss and reduction in BMI compared to the other two groups .
In a 2014 study, 88 overweight/obese women were divided into two groups. One group had 3 g/d cumin with yogurt at two meals for 3 months, and the placebo group had yogurt without cumin. Results revealed that the participants in the cumin yogurt group had significant weight loss, reduction in BMI, and waist circumference, and fat mass and its percentage. Cholesterol blood markers were also improved in the cumin-treated group .
In a 2012 study, 42 mice were fed a high-fat diet for 10 weeks, and then divided into 6 groups. One was a control group, and the other 5 groups received herbal treatments .
The groups consisted of a normal diet group, a high-fat diet group, and groups given a high-fat diet with either triphala, amalaki , haritaki, or bibhitaki. Results revealed that the mice who were fed a high-fat diet with triphala had a significant decrease in body weight, calorie intake, and percentage body fat compared to mice fed only a high-fat diet. There was also a positive impact on lipid profile.