Herbal weight loss medication: safety, efficacy, and regulation
Obesity is not just a lifestyle disease; it is a public health epidemic with serious health consequences. Conventional pharmacotherapy and other treatment options are associated with undesirable physiological side-effects and adherence problems, which lead to people seeking herbal medication as a safer alternative. This study aims to investigate the safety, efficacy, and regulation of weight loss herbals by reviewing adverse effects of selected herbals, clinical studies performed to establish safety and efficacy, and cases of adulteration and contamination. For the purpose of the study, Ephedra sinica, Garcinia cambogia, Camellia sinensis an Hoodia gordonii were chosen. Journal articles were the primary source of information, systematic data collection was done to assess clinical trials conducted on the chosen herbals, and data was also collected from South African pharmacy websites to discuss loopholes in national regulations. The results obtained from literature were interpreted and it was concluded that despite being natural products with well-established regulations, weight loss herbals are inclined to cause adverse effects, safety concerns and quality control issues.