Fire Up Your Metabolism and Burn More Calories Naturally with Herbs

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kkgas/istockphoto
DCL

Does your metabolism need a jump start? Sure it's summer time and the sun is heating things up. But what about the fire that burns within your body? It's time to light a match in your metabolic mechanism by going green with herbs.

While most pharmaceuticals are derived from herbs, plants and spices, greenies believe it's best to go direct to the source when in need of a non-life-threatening remedy. So forget diet drugs and "quick-fix" medicaments and get your metabolism to burn more fat the green way--by incorporating some of nature's most potent (and tasty) natural metabolism boosters into your diet.

New York City Acupuncturist and Herbalist Aimee Raupp, M.S., L.Ac., author of the upcoming book Chill Out and Get Healthy: Live Clean to Be Strong and Stay Sexy (August 4, 2009), says that herbs are one of the best ways to both turn up the metabolic heat and burn fat. "Some herbs and spices are warm to hot in nature and thus heat up our bodies and can ultimately help speed up metabolism in an individual with a slow metabolism."

Naturally "Hot" Herbs to Raise Your Metabolism

- Fresh ginger (sheng jiang)

- Sezchuan peppercorn (chuan jiao)

- Cinnamon bark (rou gui)

- Fennel (xiao hui xiang)

But Raupp reminds us that if you already have a high metabolism, these herbs won't work for you. Nature is best at balancing and neutralizing the body, not throwing it out of whack and on hyer-drive (that's where the danger of pharmaceuticals often comes in--forcing the body into an off-balance and unhealthy state in order to obtain an unnatural desired effect).

Eat a big fat-filled meal and feel the need to help your body break down and clear out the thigh-sticking muck? Try herbs like tangerine peel (chen pi), hawthorne berry (shan zha) and barley (mai ya) which are all great for digestion.

But don't just depend on herbs to keep fat at bay. Exercise is part and parcel to a well-balanced body. And please, please don't turn to those over-hyped energy drinks that are often filled with way too much sugar, loads of caffeine and a combination of other unknowns—some of which have been shown to cause heart palpitations and anxiety! Again, go green when it comes to revving up your energy and turn to natural Chinese herbs.

Instead of pumping you with quick burnout fuel, Raupp says that "Chinese herbs help boost Qi (aka the body's energy or life force) and will therefore give one more energy. When we have a good amount of Qi, our body is strong, healthy and can carry out all of its functions at an optimal pace."

Energize Your Workout with Herbs

- Astragalus (huang qi)

- Codonopsis (dang shen)

- Chinese yam (shan yao)

Don't forget that just because they are natural doesn't mean they aren't potent. Herbs are the building blocks of pharmaceutical for a reason—they are effective. Raupp reminds us that "Herbs, even with being 'natural' can also be harmful. No matter what supplements or herbs or vitamins one takes, it should always be done under the supervision of a licensed and experienced practitioner. Taking random supplements or pills without a thorough grasp on what the supplements contain or what effects the supplements can have on one's body or how the supplements may interact with other vitamins or medications one is taking is always risky and I don't recommend it."

Just like food, herbs are best when they are organic. Raupp's personal preference—"herbs should be organically grown, pesticide-free." Foods without pesticides are better for you and the planet, so don't sabotage your efforts to be healthy and energized by adding pesticides to your body.

Aside from growing your own herbs and snipping from your garden (the greenest way to go), or buying them fresh from your local Farmer's Market, you can get your herbal dose in tea like Alvita or Yogi Tea which makes some great teas using organic herbs.