Reference Standard

Pure Hoodia


 


 
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Hoodia gordonii is a succulent plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa. The San people have traditionally used hoodia as an appetite suppressant during long hunts. This anecdotal evidence, combined with results of a few animal studies indicating that hoodia reduces food intake, led to the widespread marketing of hoodia as a weight-loss supplement in the United States in the early 2000s.

Scientists have not determined the exact mechanism whereby hoodia might suppress appetite. A glycoside commonly called P57, which may have central nervous system activity, is widely believed to be the main active ingredient, although not all researchers agree.

Efficacy: Despite its popularity as a weight-loss supplement, very little scientific research on hoodia has been conducted in humans. In a randomized controlled trial, 49 healthy women (mean BMI 25) aged 18–50 years were randomized to receive Hoodia gordonii purified extract (2,220 mg/day in two divided doses taken 1 hour before breakfast and dinner) or placebo combined with an ad libitum diet for 15 days. Compared to placebo, hoodia extract had no significant effect on energy intake or body weight.

Safety: Hoodia has been reported to cause significant increases in heart rate and blood pressure. It also raises bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase levels (which may indicate impaired liver function), although the clinical significance of these findings is unclear because hoodia has not been reported to affect levels of other liver enzymes. Other side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
In the past, some hoodia products were found to contain little or no hoodia. According to a report released in 2007, only 30–60% of hoodia products contained adequate amounts of hoodia, although the authors did not indicate whether “adequate” referred to a therapeutic dose or whether the quantity of hoodia matched the label claim
; no more recent data on hoodia content in supplements is available.