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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Review article

A systematic review of anti-obesity medicinal plants - an update

Shirin Hasani-Ranjbar12, Zahra Jouyandeh2 and Mohammad Abdollahi3*

Author Affiliations

1 Obesity & Eating Habits Research Center, Endocrinology & Metabolism Research Institute, Shariati Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Endocrinology & Metabolism Research Center, Endocrinology & Metabolism Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Faculty of Pharmacy, and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

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Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders 2013, 12:28  doi:10.1186/2251-6581-12-28

Published: 19 June 2013


Obesity is the most prevalent health problem affecting all age groups, and leads to many complications in the form of chronic heart disease, diabetes mellitus Type 2 and stroke. A systematic review about safety and efficacy of herbal medicines in the management of obesity in human was carried out by searching bibliographic data bases such as, PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and IranMedex, for studies reported between 30th December 2008 to 23rd April 2012 on human or animals, investigating the beneficial and harmful effects of herbal medicine to treat obesity. Actually we limited our search to such a narrow window of time in order to update our article published before December of 2008. In this update, the search terms were “obesity” and (“herbal medicine” or “plant”, “plant medicinal” or “medicine traditional”) without narrowing or limiting search items. Publications with available abstracts were reviewed only. Total publications found in the initial search were 651. Total number of publications for review study was 33 by excluding publications related to animals study.

Studies with Nigella Sativa, Camellia Sinensis, Crocus Sativus L, Seaweed laminaria Digitata, Xantigen, virgin olive oil, Catechin enriched green tea, Monoselect Camellia, Oolong tea, Yacon syrup, Irvingia Gabonensi, Weighlevel, RCM-104 compound of Camellia Sinensis, Pistachio, Psyllium fibre, black Chinese tea, sea buckthorn and bilberries show significant decreases in body weight. Only, alginate-based brown seaweed and Laminaria Digitata caused an abdominal bloating and upper respiratory tract infection as the side effect in the trial group. No other significant adverse effects were reported in all 33 trials included in this article.

In conclusion, Nigella Sativa, Camellia Synensis, Green Tea, and Black Chinese Tea seem to have satisfactory anti-obesity effects. The effect size of these medicinal plants is a critical point that should be considered for interpretation. Although there was no report for side effect in these trials, we believe that safety of these plants still remains to be elucidated by further long-term studies.

Herbal medicine; Obesity; Systematic review