Update 1/20/20. If you have not heard of Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen capsules (also called Zi Xiu Tang Beauty Face and Figure Capsules), this is a natural weight loss supplement where some websites actually encourage people to eat what they want! Even in the educational pamphlet that accompanies Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen say: “No Diet Restrictions” and that people can achieve “excellent results” even while eating “high fat and high-calorie foods”. The power of Zi Xiu Tang is said to be due to bee pollen and the other ingredients in the supplement. But, things are more complicated than that. This is the second review I've written about the Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen. For more insights on the ingredients see the original review of Zi Xiu Tang bee pollen. Also read the almost 1000 comments on this review and the hundreds of comments on the other Zi Xiu Tang Reviews as well.
Read The Updates First
I posted these updates above the rest of the content so you would see them first. As you will see below, I originally felt Zi Xiu Tang was a laxative, that still did not fully explain the crazy amounts of weight people were experiencing with this product. I wondered if there might be something else behind these effects.
Unfortunately, the FDA proved my suspicions correct when they found a drug called sibutramine (also known as Meridia) in Zi Xiu Tang -as well as other bee pollen weight loss supplements. Sibutramine has been linked to heart attacks and strokes so it was banned in the US many years ago.
Update 4/8/14. The FDA warns people to immediately stop taking Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen's weight loss supplements. It tested several Zi Xiu Tang products – including those that were said to be “genuine” and not counterfeit. The FDA found that some products contained not only sibutramine, an illegal weight loss drug but some also contained Phenolphthalein, a chemical that may increase the risk of cancer. See the FDA alert for more information.
Update. 10/24/12. The FDA has alerted the public that Zi Xiu Tang contains the illegal weight loss drug called sibutramine. They advise people to not take Zi Xiu tang. Click the link to see the FDA Public Notification on Zi Xiu Tang. It took the FDA 2 years to prove what I knew from the first day I reviewed Zi Xiu Tang. There was no way this stuff worked the way it did – if it only had the ingredients listed…
Update 6/26/12. I have written a review of ZXT Gold
Update 7/25/12. : ZXT Gold has been found to contain 2 drugs, see the ZXT Gold review for more information.
6/18/13 Update. Here is the review of Slim Trim U for more information.
At first, I could not explain the weight loss people were seeing with this supplement. One person who commented on my first Zi Xiu Tang review said he lost 13 pounds in 1 month!
Now I know why…
How Does Zi Xiu Tang Work?
Thanks to a friend who sent me a bottle of these so-called slimming capsules I can tell you that bee pollen is NOT the active ingredient in Zi Xiu Tang.
If Zi Xiu Tang works, it's because it's a laxative!
I know this is true because several of the ingredients in Zi Xiu Tang have laxative effects. I suspected this because many websites selling Zi Xiu Tang use the word “cleanse”. Cleanse is the alternative medicine term for laxative.
Probably the most famous ingredient in Zi Xiu Tang is senna. Senna is not a weight loss supplement. Senna is a laxative. Senna is also classified by the FDA as a non-prescription over the counter laxative drug.
Several other ingredients as you will see also act as laxatives.
The problem with laxatives is the only weight they help us expel feces (poop) and water.
Zi Xiu Tang Ingredients Label
Even if you wear eyeglasses you will find it very difficult to read the ingredients in Zi Xiu Tang. The Zi Xiu Tang bottle and box abounds with decorative Chinese art and characters which makes reading the ingredients VERY difficult.
The red lettering of the ingredients makes it doubly hard to read. I had trouble even when I held the bottle up to a lamp! So, to save you the trouble, I've listed the ingredients here.
Zi Xiu Tang Full Ingredients List
Here is the entire list of ingredients in Zi Xiu Tang.
- Bee Pollen
- Chinese Yam
- Barbary Wolfberry Fruit
- Lotus Seed
- Dietary Fiber
- Green tea
- Polygonum multiflorum
- Lotus leaf
- Radish seed
Tthe first 4 ingredients are not weight loss herbs. I've already covered these ingredients in my first Zi Xiu Tang review. Let’s now talk about all the other ingredients.
Zi Xiu Tang Ingredients and Side Effects
Senna. Senna is a laxative. Because Zi Xiu Tang contains senna, it’s possible that the same side effects from using too much senna may be seen in those who take Zi Xiu Tang. The side effects can include,
- Abdominal cramping gas / bloating
Because of diarrhea, products like Zi Xiu Tang that contain senna may in extreme cases cause excessive loss of electrolytes. This can lead to muscle weakness and maybe heart problems. This is because electrolytes are needed for muscle contraction and the heart is a muscle.
People using heart / blood pressure medications should not use senna-containing supplements or products that have similar laxative effects.
To highlight what can happen with senna overdose, there is a case report of a woman who developed liver failure after long term use of senna tea.
In this report, the woman was drinking a liter of senna tea that contained 70 grams (2.5 oz) of senna fruit. Even with this amount, it took 3 years before liver failure presented itself. This is worth mentioning because everybody is different and people often think “more is better” which isn’t always true.
Unlike the laxative effect of fiber, senna is a non-fiber laxative. It works differently to relieve constipation. One of the ingredients in Senna is a class of compounds called anthranoids which exert laxative effects by causing damage to cells of the colon. Because of this, some have speculated that long term use of senna, may increase the risk of cancer
Because senna supplements have not been studied for long term use it is hard to say if this is true or not.
Senna products should be avoided in people who have
- Heart disease / Blood pressure issues
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel obstructions
- Pregnant or nursing mothers (for obvious reasons)
In theory, long term use of senna supplements may make it harder to defecate as the person becomes dependent on the product.
People who take Zi Xiu Tang may notice that the color of their urine looks pink or rust-colored. This is probably due to the senna (and polygonum multiflorum, discussed below) and is not dangerous.
Update: In 2010 Senna was apparently removed from Zi Xiu Tang. Some people report that their bowel movements are less while others report no change. See the comments for more information.
Cassia. Zi Xiu Tang also contains Cassia. While the word cassia is sometimes used to describe the spice, cinnamon, I don’t think this is how they are using the word because cassia can also be another name for senna.
Both of cassia and senna are listed separately on the Zi Xiu Tang label; cassia appears first, followed by senna. Both words are sometimes used together (“cassia senna”). Other names for cassia senna are Cassia acutifola, and Cassia angustifolia.
If cassia on the Zi Xiu Tang label refers to cassia senna then this too is a laxative and likely works synergistically with senna to promote a greater laxative effect.
Green Tea. Zi Xiu Tang also contains green tea. Because green tea contains caffeine, it’s theoretically possible that the caffeine may slightly raise metabolism. This is likely why the Zi Xiu Tang says “increase metabolism” and “increase energy” on the front of the display box. The box does not say how much caffeine is in Zi Xiu Tang.
Rhubarb. Zi Xiu Tang contains Rhubarb which also has laxative effects. It may also have estrogen-like effects. Rhubarb may act synergistically with senna and cassia to cause a greater laxative effect.
Aloe. Zi Xiu Tang contains aloe as well. Aloe juice also has a laxative effect however the bottle does not say if Zi Xiu Tang contains aloe juice or not.
Astragalus. Like all herbs, there are many types of Astragalus. Often used to treat the common cold, this herb does not seem to have any laxative effect. As for astragalus side effects, in large amounts (about 1 ounce, which is likely more than is in Zi Xiu Tang) this herb may increase the immune system which, while good for some can also be bad for others like those with some immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Polygonum multiflorum. This is an herb also known as Fo-Ti and Ho Shu Wu. Some research notes Polygonum multiflorum has a mild laxative effect. At least 7 case reports have noted liver problems including hepatitis resulting from use/misuse of this herb.
Other reports hint that Polygonum multiflorum might alter blood sugar levels (that may be bad for diabetics).
On a side note, Polygonum multiflorum may also be found in supplements designed to lower cholesterol; research suggests that extracts may lower cholesterol and increase HDL. More research is needed to confirm this.
Gynostemma. Some websites say this herb can both cause both weight loss and weight gain. In this respect Gynostemma, might be classified as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a non-medical term used in some circles to describe how a supplement “adapts” to your needs. Websites also claim that gynostemma has laxative effects.
Radish Seed. I could not locate any weight loss effects of this ingredient.
Malt: I could not locate any weight loss effects of this ingredient.
Mulberry. This contains fiber which acts as a laxative.
Hawthorn. People who take medications for high blood pressure or a heart condition should not use hawthorn or supplements containing Hawthorn. Hawthorn does influence the way the heart pumps. This means hawthorn can interact with your heart or blood pressure medications.
Vitamins. Zi Xiu Tang lists “vitamins” but does not indicate which vitamins it contains.
Ingredients that are Laxatives
To recap, here are the ingredients in Zi Xiu Tang that are laxatives
- Aloe (if it contains Aloe juice)
- Polygonum multiflorum
For more info see my review of Zi Xiu Tang Side Effects
Who makes Zi Xiu Tang?
The company that makes zi xiu tang is said to be the Guangzhou Zixiutang Biotechnology located in China. The strange thing is that I've never been able to find a picture of what this company looks like. Google searches turn up no pictures of the company. Even the website for the company – cn-zixiutang.com – does not show a picture of the company (the website no longer exists).
For more info on the company see my review of the bee pollen weight loss supplement Slim Trim U.
Zi Xiu Tang Warning Label
If you read the label of Zi Xiu Tang you see this warning of who should not use the product (I'm quoting them verbatim):
“Not Suitable For:
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. People who suffer from either, liver, kidney, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure. Adolescents, Elderly, Depression people or Anyone with bee or pollen allergies.”
Does Zi Xiu Tang Work?
There is little clinical evidence of weight loss effects for most of the ingredients in Zi Xiu Tang. If it really works, it may be due to laxative effects. Some websites that sell Zi Xiu Tang say the product does not contain sibutramine (weight loss drug), or other drugs like Rimonabant (weight loss drug), Phenytoin (anti-seizure drug) or Phenolphthalein (has laxative effects). This is perhaps a response to previous FDA action against bee pollen-containing weight loss supplements. Does it work as well without pharmaceutical enhancement? You tell me.