Hoodia, or known by it’s full name Hoodia gordonii has become one of the most popular supplements in the weight loss industry recently.It’s used as a primary ingredient in a number of weight loss pills, shakes, bars, capsules, tablets and syrups sold today. Hoodia gordonii grows as a leafless spiny cactus-like plant which is native to South Africa and Namibia. When growing it smells like rotten meat, but has been used by locals for hundreds of years to suppress appetite.
In 2003, Hoodia was featured in a report first on the BBC news, then on 60 minutes. The market for Hoodia then exploded and it went from having 3 products on the market to over 300! It has became even more popular following the ban of the widely-used but dangerous drug ephedra.
There are been no peer reviewed scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of the appetite suppressant qualities of hoodia i humans. Some studies have shown that it reduced hunger in rats, another study performed on humans showed that it reduced the calorie intake by 100 over the people taking the placebo – this study was not peer reviewed however. Hoodia hasn’t officially been endorsed by any medical journals or publications.
Since there hasn’t been any scientific studies that have been performed on humans, the safety of hoodia could be in question. When the drug giant Pfizer attempted to extract the active ingredient in Hoodia, the lead researcher encountered problems isolating the active ingredient. He stated “An early clinical trial indeed showed that hoodia could be a potent appetite suppressant. But there were indications of unwanted effects on the liver caused by other components, which could not be easily removed from the supplement. 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.”
Keep in mind however, that Hoodia is a natural product derived from a plant, so is not tainted with chemicals or pharmaceuticals and there has been no horror stories regarding ‘hoodia abuse’.
The way hoodia works is that it leads the brain into thinking that there is enough blood sugar in the body. This could be harmful for diabetics because a diabetic may not be able to respond to the hunger signals their body is producing because the hoodia is suppressing them.
Hoodia’s only benefit is to suppress appetite. It isn’t a magic pill that will address overeating problems nor is it a pill that will build muscle or burn fat by itself. Your body burns energy all day – even when resting. The only way to increase muscle and therefore increase your fat burning efficiency is to exercise.
So don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can pop a few Hoodia pills every day and the fat will melt away. While that is being claimed on some websites selling Hoodia, most people trying to reduce weight need to use supplements as part of a holistic approach. That is, you need to combine supplements with a good diet which has plenty of fibre and plenty of exercise.