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Tea claiming to support weight loss comes in all flavors and varieties, but the most stereotypical formula contains senna leaf.  Senna leaf is a laxative and gives the illusion of weight loss by flushing the bowels more frequently, often to such an extent that water weight loss occurs.  This not only can it lead to dehydration, it is also usually very short-term weight loss.

So when I brought home the weight loss tea from the acupuncturist, my step-father assumed its main ingredient was senna leaf.  After some investigation, I found the top 3 ingredients on the package (here translated from Chinese for you):

Fresh Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida), Orange ‘meirou’, Solomon’s-seal (Polygonatum odoratum)。

Chinese Hawthorn has been used by the Chinese for centuries as a digestive aid; a more formal description of its action:

The reputation of crataegus is that it promotes the digestion of meat and fatty foods. The presumed mechanism of action is to stimulate the production or activities of enzymes (such as proteases and lipases) that digest these food substances and/or stimulate production of bile, which especially assists the digestion of fats. The fruit contains small amounts of lipase and one of the fruit constituents, crataegolic acid, is reported to increase the activity of proteolytic enzymes. — From itmonline

For orange ‘meirou,’ I couldn’t find a clear explanation/translation, though most sources suggest its other name is Black Plum.  If that’s the case, it would have the opposite functions that’d you expect in weight loss tea so I won’t explore further.

Solomon’s seal is noted for its effect on the liver and spleen/stomach.  It is believed to moderate blood sugar levels and reduce blood lipids, particularly when combined with Hawthorn.

Obviously, tea is not going to be the end-all, be-all in weight loss–many other factors are important too, as I’ve been detailing–but it can be helpful to avoid snacking, to increase fluid consumption, reduce calories from drinks (as opposed to drinking soda or a latte).  In fact, the TCM doctor gave me this tea and told me to drink it anytime I felt inclined to snack but wasn’t really hungry, or to calm my appetite to avoid overeating.  And I actually found drinking this tea very relaxing as well as calming to my stomach.  Any little bit helps, right?

Maybe I should find out whether this tea is sold in the US, and if not, start distributing it there…

Last post in the series for TCM weight loss: Moxibustion for Cellulite ->

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