Claims that turmeric can help people lose weight and lower blood lipid counts with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are in error, said Lee Yu-sheng (李俞生), an attending physician at Tainan Chi Mei Hospital’s Department of Chinese Medicine.

A lot of research shows that turmeric can prevent lipids from forming and might ward off skin, stomach, liver, breast and colorectal cancers, but Internet sources that claim turmeric helps with weight loss are erroneous, as lowering blood lipid counts is not the same as losing weight, Lee said.

As an antioxidant, turmeric can prevent inflammation, lower the tumor necrosis factor and neutralize toxicity in free fatty acids, while it has been shown to ameliorate abnormal metabolization leading to hyperlipidemia in people with diabetes, but no paper has discussed turmeric contributing to weight loss, he said.

Chinese medicine uses rhubarb, ephedra and hawthorn for weight loss, but a doctor must be involved in prescriptions and dosage, he said.

Weight is directly related to eating and living habits, Lee said, adding that no matter the method used to lose weight, it must be seen through to have a chance of being effective.

Healthy weight loss should not exceed 1kg a week and people should get into the habit of sleeping well, hydrating and chewing slowly, Lee said.

Those seeking to lose weight should refrain from midnight snacks, processed foods and sugar, and they should keep starch in their diet to maintain a good metabolism, he said.

Massaging acupuncture points around the belly button can help digestion, he added.