Expert Advice

I've read that hoodia is an effective herbal appetite suppressant. What is it, and does it work?

Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii)
is a slow–growing succulent
plant (not a cactus, as is often
misreported), used traditionally as
an appetite–suppressing survival
food in the deserts of South Africa
and Namibia.

I've read that hoodia is an effective herbal appetite suppressant. What is it, and does it work?
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Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii) is a slow-growing succulent plant (not a cactus, as is often misreported), used traditionally as an appetite-suppressing survival food in the deserts of South Africa and Namibia. The current meteoric rise in popularity of hoodia as a weight-loss aid is based mainly on this traditional use, recent media reports, and conjecture.

 

While there has been some research on hoodia, to my knowledge there are no published human clinical trials demonstrating its appetite-suppressing effects. Without published data from clinical trials, the safety of hoodia must be evaluated based on its traditional use as well as any modern empirical data. In South Africa and Namibia, hoodia is not a staple in the diet; it has been used as a survival food and to suppress appetite during long treks in the desert. However, it appears to be relatively safe at this time.

 

The quality of hoodia supplements is still in question. It normally takes at least two to three years for hoodia plants to grow to an adequate size for harvest. But many herb-industry experts agree that the demand for hoodia has probably outpaced the ability of producers to supply it. The result, according to independent testing, has shown variations in potency and quality in supplements in which other ingredients appear to have been substituted for hoodia.

 

-Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council and the editor of HerbalGram

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