Common Names—hoodia, Kalahari cactus, Xhoba
Latin Name—Hoodia gordonii
Widely sold over the Internet and in health food stores, Hoodia gordonii is typically offered in capsules or tablets, but is also available in milk chocolate chews.
Because it is sold as a dietary supplement, hoodia escapes the level of scrutiny the FDA gives prescription drugs and medications sold over the counter.
Hoodia is a flowering, cactus-like plant native to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Its harvest is protected by conservation laws.
Kalahari Bushmen have traditionally eaten hoodia stems to reduce their hunger and thirst during long hunts.
Hoodia (pronounced HOO-dee-ah) is a cactus-like plant that grows primarily in the semi-deserts of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.
In the last few years, hoodia has been heavily marketed for weight loss and has become immensely popular.
Although there has always been a demand for diet pills, after the ban on the herb ephedra, the market was particularly ripe for the next new diet pill.
Much of hoodia’s popularity stems from claims that the San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert relied on hoodia for thousands of years to ward off hunger and thirst during long hunting trips. They were said to have cut off the stem and eat the bitter-tasting plant.
Hoodia gordonii grows in clumps of green upright stems. Although it is often called a cactus because it resembles one, hoodia is actually a succulent plant.
It takes about five years before hoodia gordonii’s pale purple flowers appear and the plant can be harvested.
There are over 13 types of hoodia. The only active ingredient identified so far is a steroidal glycoside that has been called “p57”. Currently, only hoodia gordonii is thought to contain p57.
Hoodia gordonii is sold in capsule, powder, liquid, or tea form in health food stores and on the Internet.
Despite its popularity, there are no published randomized controlled trials in humans to show hoodia is safe or effective in pill form.
One study published in the September 2004 issue of Brain Research found that injections of p57 into the appetite center of rat brains resulted in altered levels of ATP, an energy molecule that may affect hunger. The animals receiving the P57 injections also ate less than rats that received placebo injections. However, this was an animal study and injections in the brain are different from oral consumption, so it cannot be used to show that oral hoodia can suppress appetite in humans.
The manufacturer Phytopharm cites a clinical trial involving 18 human volunteers that found hoodia consumption reduced food intake by about 1000 calories per day compared to a placebo group. Although intriguing, the study wasn’t published or subjected to a peer-review process, so the quality of the study cannot be evaluated.
What is the History of Hoodia Gordonii?
In 1937, a Dutch anthropologist studying the San Bushmen noted that they used hoodia gordonii to suppress appetite. In 1963, scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa’s national laboratory, began studying hoodia. They claimed that lab animals lost weight after they were given hoodia gordonii.
The South African scientists, working with a British company named Phytopharm, isolated what they believed to be an active ingredient in hoodia gordonii, a steroidal glycoside, which they named p57. After obtaining a patent in 1995, they licensed p57 to Phytopharm. Phytopharm has spent more than $20 million on hoodia research.
Eventually pharmaceutical giant Pfizer learned about hoodia and expressed interest in developing a hoodia drug. In 1998, Phytopharm sub-licensed the rights to develop p57 to Pfizer for $21 million. Pfizer returned the rights to hoodia to Phytopharm, who is now working with Unilever.
Much of the hype about hoodia started after 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl and crew traveled to Africa to try hoodia. They hired a local Bushman to go with them into the desert and track down some hoodia. Stahl ate it, describing it as “cucumbery in texture, but not bad.” She reported that she lost the desire to eat or drink the entire day. She also said she didn’t experience any immediate side effects, such as indigestion or heart palpitations.
Hoodia does have some evidence to back it up, says Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit research organization in Austin, Texas. He cites one laboratory study but says the evidence is not conclusive.
“We can only say the evidence available to us right now, which is considered inadequate, suggests that there is some type of appetite-suppressing mechanism in some of the naturally occurring chemicals in hoodia,” Blumenthal says. He adds that his organization has not received any consumer reports of safety problems with hoodia use.
The laboratory evidence Blumenthal refers to was produced by David MacLean, MD, an adjunct associate professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and a former researcher at the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. In a report published in the Sept. 10, 2004, issue of Brain Research, MacLean reported that a molecule in hoodia, called P57, likely has an effect on the brain’s hypothalamus, which helps regulate appetite. His study was done in animals.
In an email response to WebMD, MacLean says a cousin of hoodia’s P57 molecule may eventually prove to be the better answer. “A chemical within that class of molecules has real potential to reduce appetite,” he says. “I’m less confident regarding the hoodia molecule itself for reasons relating to its metabolism [absorption and breakdown] in humans.”
About the time MacLean’s article was published, Richard M. Goldfarb, MD, a doctor in Morrisville, Pa., conducted a study of Hoodia gordonii on people and found it effective. His study was small, just seven people, says Goldfarb, medical director of Bucks County Clinical Research, an organization that conducts studies for pharmaceutical and other companies.
Goldfarb studied … the 500-milligram hoodia capsules …. Goldfarb did the study for the manufacturer but says he was not paid for the research. “I did it as a service to them,” he says.
In Goldfarb’s study, the seven overweight participants were told to take two Hoodia gordonii (…) capsules a day, eat a balanced breakfast and take a multivitamin, and keep other eating and exercise habits unchanged. The participants’ starting weights ranged from 193 to 345 pounds. They lost, on average, 3.3% of their body weight, Goldfarb says. The median loss over the 28-day study was 10 pounds (half lost more, half less).
Most of the participants reported their caloric intake dropped to less than half within a few days after starting hoodia, and they didn’t report side effects such as jitteriness or insomnia, Goldfarb says.
The study was not published in a scientific journal nor presented at a medical meeting, Goldfarb says, because it was conducted as an “efficacy” study, trying only to find out if the product actually works.
Goldfarb is recruiting volunteers for a second, larger study, commissioned by Delmar Labs, which he hopes to begin by year’s end.
“Hoodia gordonii works within the satiety center of the brain by releasing a chemical compound similar to glucose but up to 100 times stronger,” Goldfarb says in his written report. “The hypothalamus receives this signal as an indication that enough food has been consumed and this in turn decreases the appetite.”
Phytopharm, a U.K.-based company developing hoodia weight loss products with Unilever, the giant food and consumer products company, cites a 2001 study on its web site that it did, in which the plant extract caused a reduction in average daily calorie intake and in body fat within two weeks. Caloric intake dropped by about 1,000 a day after about two weeks, according to the study.
(Phytopharm was originally developing P57 with Pfizer, but Pfizer returned its rights to Phytopharm in 2003.)
Hoodia Gordonii Benefits
For dieters, the benefits of the natural appetite suppressant Hoodia Gordonii are many. First and foremost, you don’t get hungry! As those of us who have tried to lose weight know, the hardest part of any diet is the hunger pang that gets you when you’re most vulnerable. You can lose up to 1,000 calories a day this way.
Second, you don’t have to work out. Hoodia Gordonii gives you the option of adding or not adding exercise to your diet plan. Either way, you will still lose weight simply because you are eating less. Third, you don’t have to change what you eat. Portion control is one of the sweetest benefits for many dieters–and one of the secrets of losing weight. With Hoodia Gordonii, you can eat what you want (as long as it is a normal diet without much delicacies) because you won’t crave as much of it.
- Hoodia is a natural suppressant.
- HoodiaGordonii diet pills decreases your appetite so you don’t feel starved.
- You don’t have to rely on strict diet controls.
- One need not stick to selected food stuffs for consumingHoodia diet pills.
- No need to join diet clubs or go to dietician for slim body.
- Hoodia being a natural food gives you a great feeling of general good health and energy.
- HoodiaGordonii is completely natural and probably very safe to use.
- HoodiaGordonii diet pills saves time from going to gym.
- Even vegetarians and vegans can consume Hoodia pills without any tension as Hoodia Gordonii diet pills are purely veg and made from a natural plant.
The miraculous benefits of Hoodia Gordonii have all ready been established. It’s molecule, P57, is unrivaled in suppressing appetites. However scientists are working more on it for better and more powerful appetite suppressant and as natural as Hoodia.
Hoodia Gordonii Preparations
- HoodiaGordonii Tea. Thishoodiagordonii product is conveniently prepared in tea bags to be soaked in warm water. However, it is not usually purehoodiagordonii but is a combination of many weight losing herbs like in one.HoodiaGordonii tea produces no side effects and is claimed to work faster than otherhoodiagordonii products.
- HoodiaGordonii supplements.Hoodiagordonii pills and capsules work by giving a feeling of full stomach and decreasing appetite. It is also helpful in blood sugar and insulin regulation as it also contains chromium effective in situations of fluctuating blood sugars in people who are not eating.
- HoodiaGordonii complex. In this product,Hoodiagordonii is mixed with some helpful herbs like cocoa seeds, green tea, St. John’s wort,garcinia fruit, andgymnema. The herbal combo produces not just weight loss but also some healthy benefits for the body with its anti-oxidant properties.
- Hoodia Gordonii pops. Yes, hoodia gordonii are also prepared as sweetened lollipops minus the unnecessary sugars. It works in two ways, by suppressing the desire to eat and by keeping the mouth busy.
Hoodia Gordonii Side Effects
Hoodia produces no side effects like other diet pills and products. It also saves you from the hassles and money of going into the gym and following strict diets. If you decide to buy hoodia gordonii supplement, you might want to consider checking it with your doctor to determine the dosage suitable for your needs.
HOODIA Side Effects & Safety
There isn’t enough information to know if hoodia is safe.
Special Precautions & Warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of hoodia during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Q: What are the side effects of hoodia, if any? Most articles I’ve read about hoodia say it’s a gentle and safe and I can’t seem to find any information about side effects anywhere.
A: Hoodia gordonii is often touted as a herbal diet pill without side effects, although there’s a lack of published studies on the safety of hoodia in humans.
Hoodia marketers often claim that hoodia has no side effects because the San Bushmen in the Kalahari desert of Africa have been using hoodia for thousands of years. But hoodia simply hasn’t been around for long enough in North America and it hasn’t been subjected to safety testing to uncover any possible side effects, drug interactions, and safety concerns.
Jasjit S. Bindra, PhD, former researcher for hoodia at Pfizer (the pharmaceutical giant that licensed the rights to develop hoodia for $21 million but later returned the rights), stated in a letter to The New York Times that although hoodia did appear to suppress appetite, there were indications of unwanted effects on the liver caused by components other than the active ingredient p57 that could not easily be removed during processing.
Bindra added, “Clearly, hoodia has a long way to go before it can earn approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Until safer formulations are developed, dieters should be wary of using it”.
If hoodia does affect liver function, it may also interact with other medications a person is taking. The San Bushmen are a tribe of hunter-gatherers, and probably did not take same pills for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, depression, and other diseases, that we do, another reason why unconfirmed reports of safe use by the San should not be relied on.
People with diabetes should be cautious about using hoodia. One of the theories about how hoodia works is that it tricks the brain into thinking that it has enough blood sugar. Without proper feedback regulation, it’s possible that a person’s blood sugar could drop dangerously low while taking hoodia. And with the regular hunger mechanism turned off, the normal warning signs may be suppressed, until it’s too late.
Hoodia is believed to suppress not only appetite but thirst. There have been unconfirmed reports of shepherds in Africa who took hoodia to take the edge off hunger pains, but died of dehydration because they didn’t feel thirsty.
And as a general precaution, because the safety in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with liver or kidney disease hasn’t been established, these people in particular should avoid hoodia.
These reviews are taken from a big internet site.
Good stuff. November 07, 2007, From Great Britain
To use this stuff effectively, take at least 30 minutes before food. This will give the hoodia time to get into your system and stop the hunger pangs.
this really works October 25, 2008, From Oregon
Taken as directed this is very helpful in modulating appetite and eating correctly. I have lost 20 pounds. It may work a bit better if you take it 10-20 minutes before eating. I find that I only need to take 1 with the evening meal.
Did not do anything for me. January 14, 2009
I tried this product for two months and neither felt or saw a difference.
… Hoodia August 03, 2006, By Theresa Delozier
This stuff REally works. been on it now for about 2 1/2 months, and I’ve lost 12 lbs…
Amazing 6 stars out of 5! April 24, 2010, From Canada
I have been trying to drop some weight (bodyfat) and found that this helps tremendoulsy to control my hunger and cravings. I only have to take 1 capsule as an adult male before each meal and find it works very very well. I have tried many other diet supplements and so far I have found this to be the best for me. I have dropped about 4 pounds over the last two weeks that I have supplemented with this product. A definite reorder!
dont take if you have thyroid problems July 16, 2010, From Great Britain
These contain chromium which doesnt mix with hypothyroid people, in my case I felt dizzy and weak so had to stop them. Do they work? I think they probably do, hence 4 stars, but couldnt take long enough to find out for sure. …
Didn’t work, gave me stomach problems June 16, 2011, From Arizona
I took this for two weeks and all it did was make me more hungry and felt like I was starving all the time. I didn’t like eating more while on this pill! Also, I got severe stomach cramps and nausea. Not sure what is in it the pill caused that. Once I stopped taking it, that went away.
Works well June 05, 2009, From California
I have had good results using this product. However, I suggest taking two pills an hour before eating. Otherwise, this is something I will continue taking.
hoodia March 25, 2010, From Wisconsin
I tried hoodia complex (300mg of hoodia) to boost my matabalism. I started taking one capsule. once a day , after a week I noticed my heart rate was up and I couldn’t sleep. So I stopped taking it and I felt better. now I’m trying 1 capsule every fourth day to see how it effects me. If you start it,start out slow.
Slight Difference January 18, 2008, From Texas
I didn’t really notice much of a difference in my eating habits.
Hoodia August 12, 2010, From Alaska
This product seems to work in limiting hunger when taken regularly and it doesn’t make you feel jittery.
Very good! May 12, 2009, From Texas
This helps to cut my hunger cravings and increases my energy.