Supplements formulators: Weight management is not all about stimulants, caffeine and aspirin anymore.

David Foreman, Herbal Pharmacist

May 1, 2023

4 Min Read
11 underlying contributors to weight control

Formulating innovative products with solid efficacy requires addressing, as much as possible, the underlying physiological and biochemical contributors to developing a given condition. This approach couldn’t be more apparent than when formulating products for weight management. Much more is involved with weight management than just balancing calories consumed and burned.

Like a child learning that square pegs go into square holes and round pegs go into round holes, the same strategy should be taken when formulating for success. While sandpaper could be used to make the pegs fit, what would that accomplish? The key is to select the proper ingredient(s) with proven efficacy at precise dosing. At the same time, a formulator should consider choosing ingredients with differing mechanisms of action to increase the likelihood that a product will work.

Numerous unique yet interconnected areas should be considered when addressing these underlying physiological connections to weight control: leptin, ghrelin, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha/interleukin [IL]-6), insulin, insulin resistance, pituitary (primarily cortisol), adiponectin, oxidative stress, microbiome and sleep.

The area of weight management offers many opportunities to address the underlying contributors with scientifically substantiated ingredients. The following are some of the key players in each area with demonstrated weight management benefits. The list is not definitive, nor are examples exhaustively documented (but links to research studies are provided to start digging in). The information should be considered a guide to seeking ingredients with science showing they address an underlying mechanism of action and include evidence they work for weight management.

Related:Weight game: Rethinking supplements – digital magazine

Taking a quick look at each of these, one can see many contributing factors are going on beneath the surface.


Leptin is a hormone that fat cells produce to regulate body weight by signaling satiety and appetite suppression in the brain. It also influences the regulation of blood sugar levels and metabolism. In some cases, people who are overweight may develop leptin resistance; i.e., the body is producing leptin, but it doesn’t get utilized or recognized. When this occurs, it will trigger the desire to eat even though a person should be satiated.

• African mango, or Irvingia gabonensis, (as IGOB131, from Gateway Health Alliances) increases levels of adiponectin and promotes healthy levels of leptin.

Related:12 ingredient innovations that battle the bulge

Lepticore modulates leptin.

• Lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) and hibiscus flower extract (as Metabolaid from Monteloeder) significantly increase and decrease adiponectin and leptin, respectively, while the inflammatory-related factors TNF-alpha and IL-6 were downregulated.


Ghrelin is made by the stomach when it is empty. Therefore, ghrelin increases food intake and fat deposition and plays a role in decreasing energy production. Since ghrelin production begins in the gut, the microbiome also plays a vital role

• To date, no documented supplements are known to suppress ghrelin levels directly.


AMPK influences glucose utilization, oxidation and appetite (increases energy production). In short, boosting AMPK activity results in a healthier metabolic status, which can lead to less fat production.

• Jiaogulan, also known as Gynostemma pentaphyllum (as ActivAMP, from Gencor), was shown to reduce TNF-alpha and activate the AMPK enzyme.

• Fucoxanthin/pomegranate seed oil (as Xanthigen from PLT Health Solutions) activates AMPK and suppresses lipid accumulation through multiple mechanisms.

• Bergamot (as Vazguard, from Indena S.p.A.) activates AMP.

To review the complete list of 11 underlying physiological connections to weight control, download the free Natural Products Insider digital magazine here.

Read more about:

Supplement science

About the Author(s)

David Foreman

Herbal Pharmacist

David Foreman is a registered pharmacist, author and media personality known to consumers internationally as “The Herbal Pharmacist.” A background in pharmacy and natural medicine puts Foreman in an elite class of health experts who can teach integrative medicine practices. He helps consumers achieve health and vitality through his four pillars of health: diet, exercise, spirituality and supplements. Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on the Organic & Natural Health Association’s (O&N) scientific advisory board and is the author of “4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease.”

Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the health and nutrition industry.
Join 37,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like