Does anyone use herbs or other natural medicines for weight loss/general wellness?
When I first came to China, I brought a small stockpile of GNC and Whole Foods brand spirulina and chewable probiotics tablets, because I didn't know whether this kind of stuff would be available here. Of course, I did this forgetting that the Chinese are all about the "food-as-medicine" way of life, and that herbs and teas are central to traditional Chinese medicine. I was immensely pleased to find a Tong Ren Tang location (I think it's China's oldest herbal medicine store, established in the 1660s) right next to my favorite coffee shop. Extremely pricey, but the decor is so beautiful, and they've got all manner of top-quality herbal medicines -- ginseng is a particular specialty.
I take a spirulina capsule everyday, along with a Chinese lactobacillus tab (which taste horrid, despite being labeled as "chewable"). I also start every day with a big diffuser pot of green tea, to which I add a packet of digestive herbs -- chrysanthemum flowers are all I can identify, but there's seeds, clipped twigs, and other small blossoms...looks exactly like potpourri. I get those at Wal-Mart, of all places, and they come in these little "dime bags" that make me chuckle every time. Finally, I use garlic, ginger, onions, and scallions liberally in my cooking, which are held to have anticancer benefits -- I frequently eat slivered ginger and garlic raw, too, although the latter gives me an upset stomach.
I tried taking GNC yohimbe in the past (getting me some side-eye from the clerk -- it's like herbal viagra) for weight loss. It was effective for me, but it's got a laundry list of drug interaction hazards, and its side effects can be mightily unpleasant. I remember having dropped 4 pounds in what was likely mostly water weight in two days, but the sweating, nausea and icky amped-up feeling (and this was at a single-capsule dose) keeps me from recommending this to anyone else.
I've yet to try ginseng, but I've heard all kinds of good things about it. The lady at Tong Ren Tang told me I could either steep it in a tea or have it in a thin broth soup with dried goji berries and other salutary foods.
What do you think about ginseng? Got any other herbs that you like?