A Herbal Supplement that helps stop yo-yo diets

A herbal supplement treatment which experts claim can help dieters lose weight and stay slim has gone on sale.

Zotrim, a combination of three South American herbs, makes users feel fuller for longer after eating.

In tests, those taking Zotrim lost an average of 11lb in six weeks while those taking dummy tablets lost less than 1lb (around 0.5kg).

Experts say the treatment’s greatest benefit is that it helps maintain weight loss for up to a year, avoiding ‘yo-yo dieting’ in which slimmers lose weight only to regain it within months.

Ultrasound scanning shows Zotrim delays the rate at which the stomach empties by about 20 minutes. The delay is not dangerous as it merely extends the length of time taken to digest food.

However, it makes it difficult for users to eat too much as they feel uncomfortably full more quickly.

Zotrim is the result of 19 years’ work by a Dane, Dr Lasse Hessel, who says the treatment’s effect is entirely natural.

‘We now have the medical evidence that this helps people lose weight and, most importantly, keep it off,’ said Dr Hessel, who also invented Femidom, the female condom. ‘Zotrim helps people to cheat on their own stomach. It was really luck that led to this particular combination but the clinical trials show it actually works.

‘It has nothing to do with burning calories, this is a purely medicinal effect.

‘The ultrasound scanning shows conclusively that gastric emptying was delayed and that is a very good explanation for the effect.’

Both Dr Hessel and his wife Tobe have used Zotrim, which is being sold in health food stores at £21.95 for a month’s supply.

Zotrim, is a herbal supplement because it contains yerbe mate, guarana and damiana. It was tested on volunteers by researchers at the Charlottenlund Medical Centre, Denmark.

Their findings are published this week in the June issue of the Journal of Human Dietetics and Nutrition. It is the first time that a non-drug herbal preparation has been shown in a full clinical trial to have an effect on weight.

The launch in the UK – the first country to sell it – comes amid growing concern over obesity.

More than half of British adults are overweight and obesity is one of the fastest-growing health problems, affecting 17 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women.

Dr Anthony Leeds, senior lecturer in nutrition at King’s College, London, said the findings of the Zotrim study were ‘encouraging’.

He added: ‘At a time when over-weight and obesity are rising, all possible approaches to weight reduction and maintenance need to be examined objectively.’

In the trials, 47 overweight volunteers were given Zotrim tablets or a placebo three times daily before meals over a 45-day period. Those who took Zotrim lost 11lb on average compared to less than a pound lost by those taking dummy pills.

In a separate study, 22 patients continued taking Zotrim for a year.

They did not lose any further weight but managed to maintain their initial weight loss.

Another set of tests used seven volunteers. Scanning of their stomachs showed that in those using Zotrim food took an hour to pass through, compared to 38 minutes in those not taking it.