Every now and then, some miracle supplement hits the headlines and seems to answer all our weight loss prayers. Often these supplements are labeled as ‘natural’ – which seems to make us take leave of our senses and think that, because it has been produced by nature, it must be safe. If only that were so!
Hoodia is a desert plant, a bit like a cactus, and grows in arid regions like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Apparently, the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert relied on hoodia for years as a way to suppress appetite when they were out in the desert so, when ephedra was banned a few years ago, Hoodia became its natural successor in the weight loss world.
Does Hoodia work?
Well, there have been no studies published so far to say that it works in pill form, but scientists have discovered an active ingredient – a steroid - which has been called P57. So far it seems that P57 is only present in one form of Hoodia; Hoodia Gordonii.
There has been a study done on rats (poor things, they get to be studied all the time, don’t they!), which showed that, when they were injected with P57, the bit of their brain that registers hunger was altered. The thing is, rats’ brains are different to human brains and it’s far from sure if the same effect happens in our brains.
There has been a trial with humans, but it only included 18 people, which is not really enough to count. However, the people in the trial took in 1,000 less calories a day when compared to a group who received a dummy pill. Because this study wasn’t properly evaluated or reviewed by other scientists, we cannot be sure that it was undertaken properly. That means, as I said earlier, that it doesn’t count. It is interesting though.
How is Hoodia used?
Hoodia is widely available as tablets, capsule, powder, liquid, and tea. You will find this product all over the internet. However, there are various reports stating that up to 80% of the Hoodia available for purchase is counterfeit. That, of course, leads on to the next question:
How do I know that my Hoodia is real?
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many unscrupulous dealers around; they even fake certificates, so there is no guarantee. All we can really advise is that you should be extremely cautious if you would even consider purchasing Hoodia. If you want to get a sample analyzed, you could try US company, Alkemists Pharmaceuticals. The license holder for P57 is a UK company, Phytopharm.
Does Hoodia have any side effects?
Well, it certainly isn’t ready yet for FDA approval! And that is because there is some evidence that Hoodia might have some unwanted side effects as far as the liver is concerned. The liver is the body’s ‘vacuum cleaner,’ taking away all the poisons we accumulate, as well as dead and dying cells. If the liver can’t detox the blood of Hoodia, then these concerns must be taken seriously – if the liver can’t do it, nothing can!
The very fact that Hoodia may affect the liver means that it may also interact with other drugs (because all chemicals are cleansed by the liver); this being the case, it would seem sensible to proceed very cautiously if you are on any medication or drug regime (whether prescribed or over the counter).
Additionally, if you are a pregnant or nursing mother, or suffer with liver or kidney disease, you should avoid Hoodia at all costs.
Should you use Hoodia?
I have always been in favor of natural weight loss through exercise and by eating healthy foods in moderation. The food industry is a multi billion business and people will claim anything to sell their products and take their share of the money pie. It’s quite possible some products such as diet pills may help in some kind of way to lose weight, but very often, you won’t be served well at all.
Most of the time, if not always, the so called “weight loss” products will make you lose body fluids instead of fat. You think you’re losing weight, but you’re not. If that’s not the case, it’s quite possible you will suffer other harmfull side effects which will definitely do your overall health status no good.
However, I think it’s still worth taking notice of these new products. While most of them may not have much effect at all, some day a weight loss product might be invented that actually works. Such a product could definitely not replace the health benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet,… but it could possibly be of great help for some obese people, to give them a headstart in their journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Untill then, I'd keep eating those healthy fruits and vegetables and remain physically active as the ultimate way to lose those love handles.