The Hoodia belongs to a family of cactus-like flowering plants known as Apocynaceae.
They have succulent stems with uncanny similarity with cactus plants and are natively
grown in the Kalahari deserts of Africa, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
Most of the Hoodia specifies found in these parts, like are now considered as endangered
and therefore protected from being harvested. But some can be grown in backyards
as garden plants and only one species, the Hoodia Gordonii, figures in a number of
weight loss diet supplements as a potent ingredient in suppressing hunger.
The nomadic San Bushmen living in the Kalahari desert consume the succulent stem
of this plant for centuries to control hunger and thirst during long journey and
How Does Hoodia Work For Weight Loss?
The Hoodia Gordonii plant would mean nothing except for the fact that it is the only
Hoodia species that contain steroidal glycoside which the early British company Phytopharm
studying the plant named as p57 sometime in the early 60s.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer developed this discovery in 1998 and eventually found
its way as a weight loss dietary supplement used to this day. It comes in capsule,
liquid, powder or tea in many health food stores and online.
Much of the hype attending Hoodia spread when it was featured in “60 Minutes” where
correspondent Leslie Stahl and crew investigated Hoodia consumption among African
Bushmen. Leslie herself consumed the plant and reported losing interest in eating
the whole day with no side effects.
But there are no human clinical trials that independently confirm its efficacy in
reducing weight except lab studies conducted in mice injected with the p57 into their
brains and ended up eating less than their control groups.
Phytopharm cites a lone clinical test on 18 humans who exhibited less interest in
eating after consuming the plant but study was never published or independently confirmed
in any peer-review process.
Is Hoodia Safe?
While Hoodia’s p57 efficacy has never been scientifically proven in humans, its effect
on lab rats was sufficient to prompt pharmaceutical companies to make herbal-based
diet supplements and pills using its active ingredient. And with the trend towards
organically grown botanicals, it figures in 100% natural herbal supplements that
promise weight loss.
How about side effects? Unfortunately, the lack of human tests could not confirm
both its efficacy and its side effects. It is still best to consult with doctors
before using one especially if you are pregnant or nursing, or suffer health problems
like diabetes or heart disease or are receiving any medication that could cause complication.