The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
There is a movement that sells everything that comes from nature as healthier. Recently, Edmara Abreu, a 42-year-old woman, had died from fatal hepatitis caused by the improper use of losing weight supplements, made from a concoction of 50 herbs. The repercussions of the case in the media brought up the discussion about the safety of supplements and teas made from herbs. Are all of them really that good for our health?
Are natural and healthy the same?
When trying to lose weight gets too hard, people tend to impulsively follow every diet that crosses their way. Those herbal supplements are one of those options inside a massive list. When questioned about the effectiveness of those methods, the nutritionist Dr. Glauce Pereira pointed out that “those teas and supplements do help in the process of losing weight, but only when associated with a diet program and physical activity”.
Even knowing that a treatment based on herbal mixtures can help in losing weight, the side effects of using them without a medical prescription can’t be ignored. “If the herbs are being used as medicine, in large quantities, it must be prescribed by a doctor. Or else, although they are natural, there is a pharmacological substance on it that can be harmful to health”, said the specialist.
Some studies have concluded that, on a large scale, many of those herbs can badly affect the proper function of the liver and the kidney, because the concoctions have diuretic substances and can cause excessive oxidation on those organs.
What does the industry has to do with it?
In February of this year, the Brazilian national agency of health surveillance (Anvisa) posted a warning for the population about the sales of those supplements. The teas have the formula of medication but are being sold as a food supplement at the markets and on the internet, without the proper authorization of the health surveillance. “For me, surveillance is inefficient. We see a lot of questionable product labels. Moreover, there are two problems: how the product is presented as a magic formula, and how it is read by the consumer”, said Dr. Glauce.
Worse than the lack of supervision on sales is the fake advertisement and how the industry uses the media to persuade people to buy that kind of “supplement”. You don’t have to go too far on the internet to see the number of bloggers posting only the good side of using herbal teas on their diet, making it look like a miracle formula of losing weight, creating the image of a fast diet that can work for everybody, which is not honest.
“It is a known fact that losing weight fast doesn’t last long, because there is no learning or habits change”
In the end, Dr. Glauce Pereira advises: “If you want to lose weight healthily, it is better to make a food re-education with a professional in nutrition associated with the practice of regular physical activity”. Also, if you still want to try a diet with some teas or natural supplements, do not use it without the supervision of a doctor specialized in phytotherapy or a nutritionist. “Teas like hibiscus, Yerba maté, ginger or blackberry are healthy, but the thing is the amount that can or should be consumed”.