Q: am taking a combination of mahuang, guarana, yerba mate, uva ursi, fo ti, hawthorne, lociorice, bladderwraci to increase my metabolism and curb my appetite in conjunction with trying to lose weight. I am severely obese and currently take medication for hypertension. I began these herbs about a week ago, and I’ve been feeling great and want to continue taking them to lose weight. A friend recently told me that her chiropractor informed her that mahuang basically “beats” your thyroid to increase metabolism, which can cause rapid heart beat and death. Is this true? I talked to a physician and was told that I would just need to keep a regular check on my blood pressure. Any information from anyone on the safety of herbs for weight loss?
A1: I took a product called Light & rite 6 years ago and lost 30 lbs. It contained MaHuang in it. I did not over used it or abuse it. They ruined the product and it’s never been the same so I checked into bulk herbs and now I buy it by the pound. i don’t take it every day in fact I take it now to dry up my sinuses!!! It’s how you use it and not abuse it!!! It has helped my husband with his asthama in the winter. There are those out there that abuse mahaung and then there are those who know how to use it safely!
A2:The formula you mention is OK, though I would remove the ma huang, guarana,uva ursi,hawthorn, and licorice root.
Ma huang is not safe for long term use regardless of dosage. The stimulants in ma huang (ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine) will weaken adrenal function over time making allegies, asthma, and autoimmunity worse. It is also hard on the nervous, vascular, and hormonal systems. Synephrine, from bitter orange, is a much safer substitute, especially with the hypertension.
Guarana conatains a lot of caffeine and guaranine which have the same adverse effects as guarana.
Adding uva ursi to formulas is ridiculous. The tannins in the uva ursi will precipitate active alkaloids out of the body reducing the effectiveness of the formula. Uva ursi should also be avoided by those on life saving medications for the same reason. And it should not be used for more than a few days in a row since the tannins can irritate the bladder and kidneys.Hawthorn does little in this kind of formula except help counter the adverse cardiovascular effects of the ma huang.
Licorice root is also added to help counter adverse effects of ma huang, but to the adrenal glands this time. Long term use of licorice root can water retention, muscle pain, and high blood pressure. Schisandra berries would be a better choice.
Ephedra works when the ephedrine in the ma huang locks on to cellular receptors stimulating the formation of the enzymatic regulator cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) which regulates the burning of body fat. Methylxanthine sources, such as caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, from sources such as guarana, kola nut, or tea are added to block the breakdown of the cAMP by a liver enzyme prolonging the fat burning effects of cAMP. But these methylxanthines are hard on the adrenal glands as well. Yerba mate’ contains the methylxanthine mateine, which is a stereo isomer of caffeine, and doies not weaken the adrenals like caffeine. Mate’ also contains a good amount of sulfur for detoxification, and vitamin C to support adrenal function.