Since the beginning of the Dr Oz era, weight loss supplements have been the centre of attention in the natural health product industry. First it was raspberry ketones, but the evidence hinged on a few test tube and animal studies with theoretical benefits and no actual human evidence.1 Since then, green coffee bean extract has been all the rage for weight loss. The active ingredient in green coffee bean, chlorogenic acid, was originally identified as a blood pressure lowering agent before it was touted as a miracle fat burner.
While the evidence for green coffee bean extract and weight loss is definitely stronger than that for raspberry ketones, it still needs more research. A recent study did show that over 22 weeks, green coffee bean extract supplementation reduced weight by almost 18 pounds and 4.5% body fat in human subjects.2 What was also interesting is that there was a stabilization of heart rate and blood pressure. Since the majority of green coffee bean extract evidence is on blood pressure reduction, it may have a multifaceted effect on obesity and other associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Evidence on green coffee bean extract is still growing, yet the emerging weight loss star could be an ayurvedic herbal combination called triphala. A recent randomized placebo controlled trial in 62 obese subjects found that after 12 weeks, those people that took triphala had an average weight loss of 10 pounds and a 4 cm reduction in waist circumference compared to the placebo group.3 To put these results into perspective, a green coffee bean extract study for the same length had a 12 pound weight reduction.4
A meta-analysis of green tea (another well-known weight loss supplement) showed that the average weight loss was 4-5 pounds after 12 weeks.5 This puts triphala in the same category as green coffee bean extract, and superior to green tea for weight loss. The exact weight loss mechanism of triphala is not yet known, but the wide range of actions of each one of the herbs appears to have some kind of synergy in stimulating metabolism.
Triphala is an ayurvedic formulation composed of 3 herbs, with a wide range of health benefits. It has been traditionally used as a gentle, non-habit forming, laxative and intestine detoxifier. Studies have also found it has anti-bacterial effects when used as a mouthwash6,7 and it also has the ability to boost the immune system by increasing white blood cells.8 Perhaps the most interesting application of triphala is in cancer. Emerging evidence suggests it may have benefit in treating and preventing cancer.9,10 One of the main herbs in the combination is Amla, which is very rich in vitamin C, a known chemo-protective antioxidant. Since triphala has potent detoxification effects it may be protecting healthy cells from damage by removing carcinogenic compounds.
It’s still yet to be determined if triphala is the next green coffee bean, but a high quality human study supports its weight loss effect. Like green coffee bean extract, it possesses a wide range of actions and potential health benefits. With an established safety record and long history of use in humans, triphala may emerge as the next super supplement to stimulate metabolism and help us lose those extra pounds.
Click on the link below to watch Dr Oz discuss the health benefits of triphala.
1) Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, Inoue S, Tsujita T, Okuda H. Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci. 2005 May 27;77(2):194-204. Epub 2005 Feb 25.
2) Vinson JA, Burnham BR, Nagendran MV. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2012;5:21-7.
3) Kamali et al. Efficacy of 'Itrifal Saghir', a combination of three medicinal plants in the treatment of obesity; A randomized controlled trial. Daru. 2012 Sep 10;20(1):33.
4) Thom E. The effect of chlorogenic acid enriched coffee on glucose absorption in healthy volunteers and its effect on body mass when used long-term in overweight and obese people. J Int Med Res. 2007 Nov-Dec;35(6):900-8.
5) Jurgens TM, Whelan AM, Killian L, Doucette S, Kirk S, Foy E. Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Dec 12;12:CD008650.
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7) Bajaj N, Tandon S. The effect of Triphala and Chlorhexidine mouthwash on dental plaque, gingival inflammation, and microbial growth. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2011 Jan;2(1):29-36.
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9) Lu K, Chakroborty D, Sarkar C, Lu T, Xie Z, Liu Z, Basu S. Triphala and its active constituent chebulinic acid are natural inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factor-a mediated angiogenesis. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43934.
10) Baliga MS. Triphala, Ayurvedic formulation for treating and preventing cancer: a review. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Dec;16(12):1301-8.