13 Herbs That Can Help You Lose Weight
It’s no secret that what you’re putting on your plate plays a central role in weight loss.
But what you keep in your spice cabinet may be just as important.
Many herbs and spices have been shown to fight cravings and boost fat burning and weight loss.
Here are 13 amazing herbs that may help you lose weight.
Fenugreek is a common household spice derived from Trigonella foenum-graecum, a plant belonging to the legume family.
Several studies have found that fenugreek may help control appetite and reduce food intake to support weight loss.
One study in 18 people showed that supplementing with 8 grams of fenugreek fiber daily increased feelings of fullness and reduced hunger and food intake, compared to a control group (1).
Another small study found that taking fenugreek seed extract decreased daily fat intake by 17%, compared to a placebo. This resulted in a lower number of calories consumed over the course of the day (2).
Summary: Fenugreek is a spice that has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake to support weight loss.
Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper, popularly used to bring a spicy dose of flavor to many dishes.
It contains the compound capsaicin, which gives cayenne pepper its signature heat and provides numerous health benefits.
Some research shows that capsaicin can slightly boost metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day (3, 4).
Capsaicin may also reduce hunger to promote weight loss.
One small study found that taking capsaicin capsules increased levels of fullness and decreased total calorie intake (5).
Another study in 30 people showed that eating a meal containing capsaicin reduced levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger (6).
Summary: Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that contains capsaicin, which has been shown to increase metabolism and reduce hunger and calorie intake.
Ginger is a spice made from the rhizome of the flowering ginger plant, Zingiber officinale.
Often used in folk medicine as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments, some research indicates that ginger could aid weight loss as well.
One review of 14 human studies showed that supplementing with ginger significantly decreased both body weight and belly fat (7).
Another review of 27 human, animal and test-tube studies also concluded that ginger may help lower weight by increasing metabolism and fat burning while simultaneously decreasing fat absorption and appetite (8).
Summary: Ginger, a spice commonly used in folk medicine, may aid weight loss. Studies show that it may increase metabolism and fat burning, as well as decrease fat absorption and appetite.
Oregano is a perennial herb that belongs to the same plant family as mint, basil, thyme, rosemary and sage.
It contains carvacrol, a powerful compound that may help boost weight loss.
One study in mice on a high-fat diet that either contained carvacrol or not found that those that received carvacrol gained significantly less body weight and body fat than the control group.
Carvacrol supplements were also found to directly impact some of the specific genes and proteins that control fat synthesis in the body (9).
However, research on the effects of oregano and carvacrol on weight loss is still very limited. Human-based studies are lacking in particular.
Summary: Oregano is an herb that contains carvacrol. One animal study showed that carvacrol may help decrease weight and fat gain by altering fat synthesis in the body. Human-based research on oregano and weight loss is lacking.
Ginseng is a plant with health-promoting properties that is often considered a staple in traditional Chinese medicine.
It can be categorized into several different types, including Korean, Chinese and American, all of which belong to the same genus of ginseng plants.
Many studies have suggested that this powerful plant could aid weight loss.
One small study found that taking Korean ginseng twice daily for eight weeks resulted in quantifiable reductions in body weight, as well as changes in gut microbiota composition (10).
Similarly, an animal study showed that ginseng combatted obesity by altering fat formation and delaying intestinal fat absorption (11).
However, more high-quality, large-scale studies are needed to examine ginseng’s impact on weight loss in humans.
Summary: Ginseng, which is often used in traditional Chinese medicine, may stimulate weight loss, delay fat absorption and modify fat formation.
Caralluma Fimbriata is an herb that is often included in many diet pills.
It’s thought to work by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that directly affects appetite (12, 13).
One 12-week study in 33 people found that participants who took Caralluma Fimbriata had significantly greater decreases in belly fat and body weight, compared to those on a placebo (14).
Another small study showed that consuming 1 gram of Caralluma Fimbriata daily for two months led to reductions in weight and hunger levels, compared to a control group (15).
Summary: Caralluma Fimbriata is an herb commonly used in diet pills that may help decrease appetite to stimulate weight loss.
Turmeric is a spice revered for its flavor, vibrant color and potent medicinal properties.
Most of its health benefits are attributed to the presence of curcumin, a chemical that has been studied extensively for its effects on everything from inflammation to weight loss.
One study in 44 overweight people showed that taking curcumin twice daily for one month was effective in enhancing fat loss, decreasing belly fat and increasing weight loss by up to 5% (16).
Similarly, an animal study found that supplementing mice with curcumin for 12 weeks reduced body weight and body fat by blocking the synthesis of fat (17).
However, keep in mind that these studies use a concentrated amount of curcumin, far greater than the amount present in a typical dose of turmeric.
More research is needed to examine how turmeric itself may impact weight loss.
Summary: Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, which has been shown to aid weight loss and fat loss in human and animal studies.
Black pepper is a common household spice derived from the dried fruit of Piper nigrum, a flowering vine native to India.
It contains a powerful compound called piperine, which supplies both its pungent flavor and potential weight-lowering effects.
One study found that supplementing with piperine helped reduce body weight in rats on a high-fat diet, even with no changes in food intake (18).
A test-tube study also showed that piperine effectively inhibited fat cell formation (19).
Unfortunately, current research is still limited to test-tube and animal studies.
Further studies are needed to determine how piperine and black pepper may influence weight loss in humans.
Summary: Black pepper contains piperine, which has been shown to help decrease body weight and inhibit fat cell formation in test-tube and animal studies. Human research is lacking.
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that is often used as a natural remedy to help reduce blood sugar levels.
However, some research shows that it may also benefit those looking to lose weight.
It contains a compound called gymnemic acid, which can help reduce the perceived sweetness of foods to ward off sugar cravings (20).
In fact, one study concluded that taking Gymnema sylvestre reduced both appetite and food intake, compared to a control group (21).
A three-week animal study also found that eating this herb helped maintain body weight in rats on a high-fat diet (22).
Summary: Gymnema sylvestre is an herb often used to lower blood sugar. Human and animal studies show that it may also aid weight loss by reducing appetite and food intake.
Cinnamon is an aromatic spice made from the inner bark of trees in the Cinnamomum genus.
It’s rich in antioxidants and offers several health benefits. Some studies have even found that cinnamon could increase weight loss.
It’s especially effective in stabilizing blood sugar, which may help reduce appetite and hunger (23).
Studies show that a specific compound found in cinnamon can mimic the effects of insulin, helping transport sugar from the bloodstream to your cells to be used as fuel (24, 25).
Cinnamon may also decrease levels of certain digestive enzymes to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates (26).
While these effects could potentially decrease appetite and lead to weight loss, more research is needed to study the effects of cinnamon directly on weight.
Summary: Cinnamon is a spice that can decrease blood sugar, which could lead to reduced appetite and hunger.
Green coffee bean extract is commonly found in many weight-loss supplements.
It’s made from coffee beans that haven’t been roasted and is high in chlorogenic acid, which is thought to account for its potential weight-lowering effects.
One study found that consuming green coffee reduced body mass index (BMI) and belly fat in 20 participants, even with no changes in calorie intake (27).
Another review of three studies concluded that green coffee bean extract may decrease body weight by 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) on average. However, researchers noted that the quality and size of available studies was somewhat limited (28).
Therefore, more high-quality studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of green coffee bean on weight loss.
Summary: Green coffee bean extract is made from unroasted coffee beans. Some research suggests that it could help reduce body weight and belly fat.
Cumin is a spice made from the dried and ground seeds of Cuminum cyminum, a flowering plant of the parsley family.
It’s well known for its distinct nutty flavor but also packed with health benefits, including the potential to accelerate weight loss and fat burning.
One small, three-month study found that women who consumed yogurt with 3 grams of cumin twice daily lost more weight and body fat than a control group (29).
Similarly, an eight-week study reported that adults who took a cumin supplement three times a day lost 2.2 pounds (1 kg) more than those who took a placebo (30).
Summary: Cumin is a common spice that has been shown to effectively decrease body weight and body fat.
Cardamom is a highly prized spice, made from the seeds of a plant in the ginger family.
It’s used worldwide in both cooking and baking but may also support weight loss.
One animal study found that cardamom powder helped reduce belly fat in rats on a high-fat, high-carb diet (31).
Similarly, another animal study showed that black cardamom in particular was effective in reducing both belly fat and total body fat in rats on a high-fat diet (32).
Unfortunately, most research on cardamom’s weight loss potential is limited to animal studies.
Cardamom’s influence on weight loss in humans has yet to be investigated.
Summary: Cardamom is a highly prized spice that has been shown to reduce belly and body fat in some animal studies. Human-based research is lacking.
When used as a seasoning for foods, the aforementioned herbs and spices can provide a burst of health benefits with minimal risk of side effects.
Just don’t go overboard. Stick to no more than one tablespoon (14 grams) per day and be sure to pair them with nutrient-rich whole foods to help boost weight loss even more.
If you take herbs in supplement form, it’s important to stick to the recommended dosage on the package to prevent adverse effects.
Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications, it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement.
If you experience any negative side effects or food allergy symptoms, discontinue use immediately and talk to a trusted healthcare practitioner.
Summary: When used as a seasoning, most herbs and spices pose minimal risk of side effects. In supplement form, it’s best to stick to the recommended dosage to avoid unwanted reactions.
Besides adding a punch of flavor to your favorite foods, many herbs and spices have been shown to increase metabolism, enhance fat burning and promote feelings of fullness.
Diversifying your spice cabinet is a simple and easy way to increase weight loss with minimal effort.
Be sure to combine these herbs with a well-rounded, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle to get the most bang for your buck with weight loss.