Friday, March 24, 2006

Hoodia Gordonii: Fact or Fiction?

It’s interesting to see what ads will end up on your screen as you browse the internet. An ad for Hoodia Gordonii ended up on my sitemeter page when I was reviewing to see where my visitors were coming from this week. Hoodia is apparently a “Miracle Cactus” that reduces your appetite, helping you to lose weight.

Does it work? Well just listen to this little piece of anecdotal “evidence” that is sure to convince you…

“The San Bushmen of the Kalahari, one of the world's oldest and most primitive tribes, have been eating the Hoodia plant for thousands of years, to stave off hunger during long hunting trips.”

How does this mean that it actually helps suppress appetite? Eating almost anything that’s non-toxic would help the San Bushman stave off hunger during long treks through the desert; special appetite suppressant qualities aren’t required.

Does this plant do any more than just help fill your stomach? Is there any legitimate evidence that Hoodia capsules are more effective at suppressing appetite than a placebo of, say, cellulose? Well, let me direct your attention to the fine print…

“Please Note: The statements contained on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Not exactly a sterling recommendation.

This particular gimmick product may have some merit, though. I was able to find a study result on PubMed that indicates that one of the compounds in Hoodia actually does have appetite suppressant properties.

“…third ventricle (i.c.v.) administration of P57, which reduces subsequent 24-h food intake by 40-60%, also increases ATP content in hypothalamic slice punches removed at 24 h following the i.c.v. injections.”

Granted, they’re talking about injecting this stuff directly into the brains of mice, but the fact that it does have a significant effect on subsequent food intake does suggest that the compound is an effective appetite suppressant.

What the study shows is that nerve cells in the hypothalamus of the brain have an increase in ATP content after being exposed to the P57 compound from Hoodia. ATP is the “ready fuel” for cellular activity (as opposed to sugars, which need to be converted to ATP before they’re ready to use), so a generous supply of ATP in the hypothalamus gland of the brain might logically convince you that you don’t need to eat anything for a while.

So Hoodia capsules aren’t necessarily a scam, assuming they contain effective concentrations of the active ingredient at a reasonable price. I think it’s important to show that legitimate products will actually survive the exercise of some critical thinking skills and a search for some credible evidence. Hoodia isn’t effective because it has the endorsement of San Bushmen; it’s effective because the chemicals it contains actually do reduce your appetite, a claim that science can test and show to be true.

News articles:


Techno-Bloggie said...

Good post on Hoodia.. I regularly write about Hoodia .. might be you would want to have a look at my blog at L

Lord Runolfr said...

I took a look, and you appear to be a whole-hearted supporter of Hoodia as a weight-loss supplement. I think you need to exercise some more critical thinking skills.

You cavalierly say that Hoodia has no side effects, when there's been very little research to see what side effects it might have. For example, it reduces appetite and causes the ATP content of at least some cells to increase. It supposedly tricks your hypothalamus gland by mimicking the effect of glucose in the bloodstream.

What happens if someone who's hypoglycemic takes Hoodia? No one knows yet. What happens if someone who's diabetic takes Hoodia? No one knows yet. How might it interact with medications that a user may be taking? No one knows yet.

It's premature to say that Hoodia is harmless and has no side effects. It seems to be safe enough for most people, but there's still a lot of research to be done on how this stuff behaves in unusual circumstances.

Techno-Bloggie said...

I appretiate your view and your justification. But when it actally sounds like one of us is supporting the presence of aliens while the other is not. I agree, there might be catches and also there may not be any catches at all..

From what I've read so far.. its used by hoodia bushmen and the scientific explanation provided by various sources prove that Hoodia has been around for a while amongst the bushmen.. and so chances that a diabetic patient would have consumed hoodia is quite high. Definitely the researchers would have looked into this though there is no written confirmation of, any sort of side effect on ppl comsuming hoodia.

Well if you do find any other interesting info about hoodia please do put it across my notice and also if you think my blog might be useful for your visitors then a link pointing to my blog would do great :-).

I also write on few known medical issues you might just take a look there too

You can mail me at

bestmotoroil said...

Great article about hoodia! - weight loss, hoodia, diet news.

Anonymous said...

All of our efforts to make weight loss/fitness acquisition painless is an example of missing the forest for the trees (no insult to you or your comments, simply the truth of our culture) and a glaring example of weakness. When a person abruptly starts eating less than they are accustomed to they feel hungry until their body and mind adjust. For me this took about a week. It is admittedly uncomfortable during that time. Rather than going to any length at all to avoid that discomfort, we "should" (the dreaded word) simply suck it up and face it. Oh it's too hard, boo hoo. We want everything to be so easy. Ugh! Dealing with discomfort builds strength which removes the discomfort. A less uncomfortable method would be to gradually reduce food intake. Eating fewer calories than the body uses is all it takes. That's all it has EVER taken. It's. That. Simple. All the research, articles, scientific arguments etc. is a monumental waste of time, money, and hope, conducted by those unwilling to cut the crap and do what is necessary. Eat less, move more. That's it! Everything else is completely and totally unnecessary. A terrible distraction from the simple truth.
An important note, however: a person does need to eat a varied diet so they're not deficient in anything.

Hoodia Gordonii said...

Don’t make the mistake of believing that all you have to do is pop a few Hoodia Gordonii Absolute everyday and the fat will just melt off. While many claim that has been the case for them, the vast majority of dieters need more help than diet pills to achieve their weight loss goals. And in some cases, hoodia simply doesn’t work at all!