Plants with potential use on obesity and its complications

EXCLI J. 2015 Jul 9;14:809-31. doi: 10.17179/excli2015-186. eCollection 2015.


Obesity is the most prevalent nutritional disease and a growing public health problem worldwide. This disease is a causal component of the metabolic syndrome related with abnormalities, including hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, inflammation, among others. There are anti-obesity drugs, affecting the fundamental processes of the weight regulation; however they have shown serious side effects, which outweigh their beneficial effects. Most recent studies on the treatment of obesity and its complications have focused on the potential role of different plants preparation that can exert a positive effect on the mechanisms involved in this pathology. For instance, anti-obesity effects of green tea and its isolated active principles have been reported in both in vitro (cell cultures) and in vivo (animal models) that possess healthy effects, decreasing adipose tissue through reduction of adipocytes differentiation and proliferation. A positive effect in lipid profile, and lipid and carbohydrates metabolisms were demonstrated as well. In addition, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities were studied. However, the consumption of green tea and its products is not that common in Western countries, where other plants with similar bioactivity predominate; nevertheless, the effect extension has not been analyzed in depth, despite of their potential as alternative treatment for obesity. In this review the anti-obesity potential and reported mechanisms of action of diverse plants such as: Camellia sinensis, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Hypericum perforatum, Persea americana, Phaseolus vulgaris, Capsicum annuum, Rosmarinus officinalis, Ilex paraguariensis, Citrus paradisi, Citrus limon, Punica granatum, Aloe vera, Taraxacum officinale and Arachis hypogaea is summarized. We consider the potential of these plants as natural alternative treatments of some metabolic alterations associated with obesity.

Keywords: alternative treatments; anti-obesity plants; obesity; obesity complications; phytochemicals.

Publication types

  • Review