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Efficacy, Safety, and Mechanisms Of Herbal Medicines Used In The Treatment Of Obesity: A Protocol For Systematic Review

There is a huge amount of conflicting evidence over the potential efficacy of herbal remedies for the treatment of obesity. Although several systematic reviews have been conducted, the market is saturated with poorly evidenced claims, and a huge number of different remedies. This study sets out a protocol for a comprehensive systematic review into herbal remedies and their efficacy at treating obesity.

Herbal medicines can cause weight loss through 5 different mechanisms, namely appetite control, stimulation of thermogenesis, inhibition of fat absorption as well as decreasing lipogenesis.

Efficacy has been evaluated before, however, the authors feel a new systematic review, focussing on clinical trials data is needed. This systematic review will be seen as an update, with all new data plus any new research on active components and methods of action.

Herbal remedies are defined as raw or refined products derived from plants or parts of plants, in this case used for the treatment of obesity. The primary outcomes expected will be an improvement in BMI, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, body fat and appetite. Secondary outcomes will focus more on the metabolic features of obesity, meaning improvements to cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, blood pressure, triglycerides and blood sugar.

The increasing number of randomised controlled clinical trials means that a new and updated review of the mechanisms of action and efficacy of these treatments is needed. They have the potential to become a cheap new therapy in the treatment of obesity or if proven otherwise, then this systematic review will put to rest the debate over their efficacy.

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