I've been in weight loss mode lately. I'm doing it the old fashioned way - more exercise and healthy eating. But as an herbalist, I can't help but consider herbs that will aid my weight loss efforts. I know, this concept has mixed reviews by some - but hear me out. :)
My first experience with taking herbs for weight loss occurred when ephedra was popular for this, and it was not banned at the time. As an herbalist, I knew that it was utterly ridiculous to try it because of the side effects, but I went for it anyway. Ephedra is not traditionally used as a weight loss helper in the herbal world - it is known as a great respiratory herb and can help with asthma and other lung related problems. Sudafed is derived from this plant.
Anyway, I had an odd reaction to it. It accelerated my heart rate and made me sleepy - the total opposite of how it was supposed to work. In fact, I had to take long naps when I took it. Needless to say, it didn't work.
Over five years later, I know better. Now, I believe that the best approach to using herbs for weight loss is to focus on keeping the body healthy and strong and focusing on the liver. The liver is responsible for fat metabolism. And, since it tends to be overworked, especially if we are overweight, taking medication, drink too much alcohol, etc it is safe to say that if the liver is healthy it can really help. So, I'd focus on herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, and yellow dock to help with weight loss.
I wrote an article at ehow on How to Lose Weight With Herbs that goes into this concept in more detail. I also mention herbs such as green tea and calming herbs such as chamomile to also help with weight loss.