Looking to gain weight instead of losing some may seem like a strange health goal to some people, and wanting to do so without getting into an aggressive gym program is even more so. Though this seems like an incredulous proposition at face value, a lot of people need to gain weight for a variety of reasons. These include low metabolism, to recuperate from diseases that degenerate body mass (cancers), the desire for a certain body type, low immunity, or malabsorption (inability of the body to absorb nutrients in the small intestine).
So why look to herbs for weight gain? Wouldn’t just indulging in french fries, pizza, and other fast food suffice? As tempting as that option may seem, fast weight gain via fast foods is going to create a lot more health problems for you than you would anticipate, and fast.
This is where herbs come to the rescue. Herbs not only help you gain weight in more ways than one, but also without facing the danger of side effects of medical drugs or supplements. Nature (and modern supermarkets) provides many easily available herbs that have the macro and micronutrients needed for quick and healthy weight gain. The following herbs are most effective for achieving that desired weight gain.
Ginger is a root that has an almost ubiquitous presence in ancient traditional medication and grandma remedies across South Asia. It is a cheap and delicious superfood that is easily available in the produce sections of most food stores and is widely used in cooking.
Gingerols and shogaols, the dominant bioactive constituents of ginger, are responsible for most of the root’s therapeutic properties. Besides being rich in antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory compounds that protect your body from oxidative stress and cardiovascular damage, ginger also helps stimulate appetite and aids digestion. As per the 2000 study by Platel and Srinivasan (Central Food Technological Research Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, India), ginger stimulates digestion by increasing gastric motility and benefiting the pancreatic enzyme lipase, thus helping appetite and alleviating lack of hunger.
Ginger has carminative properties which accelerate gastric emptying and cleaning and is used to cure dyspepsia, commonly known as indigestion. It also helps with flatulence by aiding the intestinal system to get rid of gas.
A well known antiemetic used to treat nausea and vomiting, ginger has been used to prevent seasickness and treat morning sickness through the ages. Maintaining a healthy digestive system is very important for safe, natural, and quick weight gain; ginger certainly plays an important role in doing so.
Commonly known as silymarin, milk thistle is an herb native to the Mediterranean. It is excellent for healthy weight gain, as it is a rich protein source, a demulcent (a substance that protects mucous membranes), and a cholagogue (a substance that stimulates the production of bile).
Milk thistle leaves can be consumed as a tea or as extracts most commonly found in powdered form. The seeds are edible in raw form as well. The defatted seeds have a high protein content ranging between 20-24 percent and contain ten different kinds of amino acids. As a high quality and high quantity protein source, milk thistle is ideal for rapid muscle growth and increase of body composition.
Milk thistle facilitates digestion and increases appetite by encouraging bile production. Bile helps digest fats more effectively and prevents inflammation in the small intestine, a condition known as Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, by protecting the intestinal lining. Milk thistle also promotes digestive function by facilitating enzyme production and protects mucous membranes by reducing inflammatory stress in the bile ducts. By improving digestion and whetting appetite, milk thistle can play an important role in your quest for gaining weight.
Fenugreek is an herb that has been used in Indian and Chinese cultures for ages as an alternative medicine for various ailments. It is a popular condiment in cooking and is known for its earthy flavors. As fenugreek is rich in antioxidants and fiber, it acts as a natural digestive, soothes an upset stomach, and relieves pain from indigestion. It also has laxative properties and helps people with constipation.
Fenugreek is a rich source of protein. It contains 23 grams of protein for every 100 grams consumed, providing a massive 46 percent of the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (based on a 2000 calorie diet). Including fenugreek leaves as a vegetable in your diet can give you a huge boost in receiving amino acids needed for fast and healthy muscle growth. Since fenugreek is a plant-based protein source with minimal amounts of saturated fats and carbohydrates, it is a very healthy way to gain weight without having to eat meat.
Fenugreek is also known to boost testosterone levels in men. Testosterone is known to increase muscle mass and size. In fact, in multiple studies, intake of 500 – 600 milligrams of fenugreek has shown an increase in strength and muscle growth in participants (in comparison to the non-supplement group).
The “King of Bitters,” gentian is an all-star elite when it comes to activating appetite and treating gastrointestinal issues. It is easily found in Southern and Central Europe and widely used as a root or in tea.
Gentian is an extremely effective bitter which uses its compounds gentiopicroside and amarogentin to stimulate taste buds to create more saliva. It also increases the secretion of the digestive hormone gastrin to produce more bile and gastric juices. Encouraging gastric stimulations, gentian is a powerful ally to help you eat and get the nutrition you need to put on weight.
These bitter qualities, as a result, help absorb nutrients more efficiently and smooth over issues that your body might have as far as assimilation of food is concerned. Gentian root preparations help support the digestive system by alleviating flatulence, indigestion, bloating, and constipation. Some people have also found relief from parasitic worms by using gentian.
Chenpi (or Chen Pi) is an herb made from dried tangerine peels that has a rich history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine and cooking. It is used as a bitter in cuisine or consumed directly after soaking to aid digestion by increasing gastric acids. It acts as an appetite enhancer and promotes the craving to eat. It is particularly used to digest heavy carbohydrates and oily food, relieving a condition known as food stagnation. Acting as a digestive relaxant, chenpi can relieve bloating, dyspepsia, and intestinal gas.
Chenpi is categorized as “Regulate Qi” in herbal medicine and is used to treat nausea and reduce vomiting caused by various gastrointestinal problems. One of the main causes of weight loss is digestive issues, and by mitigating various disturbances that result in malabsorption, chenpi acts as a potent ally in the quest to gain healthy mass.
Ashwagandha translates to “scent of horses” in Sanskrit, indicating its strength-increasing properties. The plant’s roots and berries are used to make a tonic, and it is also commonly found in the form of supplements. Ashwagandha is helpful in gaining weight by improving body composition and promoting muscle growth. In a research study, volunteers ranging between 18 – 30 years were given an increasing dose of ashwagandha (from 750 – 1250 milligrams) for 30 days. Increased muscle strength and activity was measured in nearly all participants using various tests. In another study, participants displayed increased muscle strength and muscle size with a daily intake of 600 milligrams of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is also a known adaptogen with the ability to reduce stress, depression, and fatigue and to increase energy levels. This helps in delivering proper nutrition by regulating physical, as well as mental, health. It keeps the mind motivated and improves physical stamina to promote appetite and support effective weight gain. Ashwagandha is also known to help convert excessive fat into muscle.
With a historical reputation for treating all kinds of ailments, sage is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that derives its name from the Latin word “salvare” which means “to save or rescue.” Sage is abundant in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, making it helpful for fast weight gain and increase in strength.
Sage has a high concentration of protein – a 100 gram serving of sage contains 11 grams of protein, providing 22 percent of the daily required intake (estimated for a 2000 calorie diet). It also contains 61 grams of carbohydrates (22 percent of Recommended Dietary Allowance) and a whopping 207 percent of vitamin B6, a water soluble vitamin. Rich quantities of protein and carbohydrates impact weight gain directly. A high vitamin B6 intake helps in protein and carbohydrate metabolism and neurotransmitter production. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine improve mood and help maintain a healthy appetite required to increase weight. Sage essential oil is also known to treat digestive issues, such as diarrhea, which can discourage appetite.
Chamomile is an age-old medicinal plant which has been used to calm nerves (a very common cause of indigestion/digestive upset) and facilitate digestion. Chamomile can help whet your appetite and soothe many digestive hurdles to encourage gaining weight. Often consumed as a tea by boiling the dried flowers of the plant, chamomile contains a series of phytochemicals that function individually, as well as collectively, for digestive health. Compounds such as a-bisabolol, chamazulene, and azulene help alleviate pain and damage from infections and repair damaged tissue for faster digestive recuperation.
A flavonoid called apigenin helps mitigate gut-related problems such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) by binding with brain receptors to reduce stress. These gut-protecting properties of chamomile will help you increase intake of food without worrying about facing digestive issues.
Dandelion leaves and roots have been used for centuries to treat weak digestion and increase appetite. Like gentian, it is a bitter tonic that creates hunger by stimulating enzyme activity and digestion. The bitterness is characteristic of the mineral sulfur, which aids in protein synthesis. By enhancing appetite and promoting the protein uptake of the body to create new muscle, dandelion helps in increasing muscle bulk.
Dandelion also helps cleanse the digestive tracts by helping the digestion of fatty and carbohydrate laden foods and removes toxins from the gut. It contains the probiotic inulin that helps in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The bitter compound taraxacerin found in dandelion increases bile production, which in turn enhances appetite.
Dandelion is also one of the very few herbs that are safe to be consumed (in moderate quantities) during pregnancy and is known to be recommended to women looking to increase weight while in labor.
Custard apples are a fruit, but the leaves, peel, and pulp have been used in Ayurvedic (Indian traditional medicine) herbal remedies for ages. Also known as cherimoya in Central America, custard apples are a rich source of vitamin B6. A single cup provides 30 percent of the Required Dietary Allowance. Vitamin B6 helps in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which help in fighting mood disorders that curb your appetite.
Custard apples also help maintain good digestive health by promoting a healthy gut. It contains a high concentration of soluble fibers (17 percent of Required Dietary Allowance from a single cup) that feed healthy bacteria in the gut, supporting regular bowel movements and preventing inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract, such as bloating and gas.
The leaves of custard apples can be made into a tea by boiling them for a few minutes before consumption. This tea is known to help maintain a healthy metabolism rate and keep energy levels up. These qualities make the various parts of the custard apple ideal herbs for efficacious weight gain.
The herbs discussed above are very effective in helping gain weight quickly, safely, and naturally. They primarily do this by helping you maintain a good appetite to eat, providing necessary nutrition for muscle growth and protein synthesis, and preventing or treating digestive problems. These herbs are safe for consumption and can be included in a daily diet through food, teas, tonics, or supplements. Consult your doctor before including these herbs in your diet so you can determine the easiest and quickest way to gain weight.