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Weight loss and management - a Chinese medicine approach

Published:Wednesday | February 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

It's February, yet some of us are still feeling the evidence of the joys and bellyful of the Christmas season. Weight management isn't rocket science, but it sure feels that way. In many cases, the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is to find a weight-loss plan that can be enjoyed as much as possible, offering a greater chance of lifetime success.

Maintaining a healthy weight is not just about looking good, but also about being healthy and prolonging good quality of life.

Key considerations in every weight-loss management programme are:

- Food intake (what you eat and how much)

- Activity/exercise

- Metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories)




Weight loss requires the body to burn more calories than it takes in, and tapping into excess fat stores. Chinese herbs can be used to burn excess fat in the body and reduce appetite.

Helpful herbs which can be found in many health food stores include:

Lu cha (green tea): A popular tea used to speed up fat metabolism and improve energy.

Shan zha (hawthorn berry): Reduces and prevents food accumulation. It reduces appetite and is ideally taken 10-30 minutes before a meal in order to prevent excessive eating. Additionally, this herb helps to reduce elevated cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.

Hai zao (seaweed): Improves fat metabolism in the body in order to burn excess fat and has the additional benefit of mildly lowering cholesterol levels.

All of these herbs may be combined and taken as a tea prior to a meal for optimum results. Unfortunately, as helpful as these herbs are, it does not mean you don't have to exercise.




While many people would love to avoid it, the truth is you are not likely to get around some exercise. So pick one - preferably one you enjoy even a little and will stick to, as exercising needs to become a way of life.

If you are not a gym person, then try something else. Walking, jogging, dance classes, yoga, swimming, squash, and tennis are all options. The options are so varied that it's almost impossible to not find something, and there's nothing wrong with varying the type of exercise. If you lack stick-to-it-iveness, get an exercise partner and make sure you exercise for at least 250 minutes per week.




Some simple adjustments include:

- Drinking water instead of a sweet drink.

- Boosting metabolism by eating five to six small meals a day, rather than three heavy meals and sipping warm water throughout the day.

- Eating your last heavy meal by 4 p.m.

- Having broth in the nights if you are feeling peckish.

- Eating more vegetables - you can bulk up meals with vegetables.

- Eating fruits instead of drinking fruit juice.

- Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine, and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology in oriental/

Chinese medicine. Email:;