Let's get to the punch line.
Does hoodia really help with suppress appetite?
Does it really work to reduce weight?
No and no.
Actually, the correct answer is that we don't think so.
There's no compelling scientific evidence from existing research studies to show that it actually works.
Sure, the bushmen way back might have eat hoodia but hey, when they are in the bush, what's there to eat?
And the claim that it helped the bushmen suppress their appetite, again, what else is out there for them to eat? Did they have a choice? No.
I can imagine the conversation a bushmen might have with their spouses, "Honey, I didn't find any buffalo, but this hoodia plant I found by some buffalo droppings kept my hunger at bay and look, I lost weight too!"
But if you are not convinced and believe that it might work for you, there appears to be little harm for you to give it a try.
It might work for you. Although, at the moment, the evidence does support that belief...
In one animal study, rats given P57 showed a significant decrease in appetite and total body mass compared to those not feed P57 over an eight day period.
Some experts believe that it works in the hypothalamus to control the feeling of hunger.
A quick review showed that here are unpublished studies that showed comparing taking P57 versus a placebo (sugar pill). It showed that overweight men taking P57 ate significantly less than those taking the placebo.
Preliminary studies appear promising in using it as a diet pill to suppress appetite but there's no quality published study done on human subjects.
Hoodia is used to control appetite.
P57 is a cactus-like plant that is native to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
San bushmen eat it to control their hunger during their long hunting trips.
The people of San in South Africa own the rights to use it.
Others have said that San bushmen are slim due to eating it.
We believe it's because they don't each much at all.
If they don't each much because they can't find food or are poor, they would be slim indeed.
As an additional comment regarding weigh loss, suppressing your appetite means you will eat less. Thus, your body metabolism will slow down to compensate.
Even if it is proven to suppress appetite you may not see a large drop in your body weight very quickly. Loosing 1 to 2 pounds of weigh weekly is considered to be a safe rate.
Maintaining weight loss requires other activities as such an exercise program, dieting and eating a balanced proportions of foods from all the food groups.
The active component is suspected to be a chemical known as P57, an oxypregnane steroidal glycoside. It is believed to work in the brain to stimulate the sensation of fullness.
This will control hunger and thus promote weight loss similar to most diet pills that works in the appetite center in the brain.
Yes, in animals such as rats, it worked. But that's only one study.
Also, in very small study in overweight men, it showed that it worked. But this result is not published so we cannot comment on how well the research study was done.
It was conducted by Phytopharm, the holder of the rights on P57. One can clearly see that there would likely be a bias in the results they present.
The multinational pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, discontinued clinical research on p57 in 2003. Our guess is that they couldn't show any weight reduction in their volunteers given this supplement.
It has been featured on Sixty Minutes, in O, The Oprah Magazine and many other media as an effective, safe, and natural appetite suppressant.
This is what we call hype. Why would the media talk about it so much?
The reason is obvious. The media makes money on promoting what people like to believe, hear or read. Weight loss is a huge multi-billion dollar industry and if you report on this miracle herb that will cause you to shed pounds and reduce your waistline, the people will listen intensively.
Be careful of company making extreme claims of quick and fast action weight loss with their brand of product.
Planning to loose weight using hoodia as a diet pill? Buying P57 online?
First and foremost, buy from a reputable company.
There are news reports that many P57 brands promoted on the internet as diet pills do not contain any of the active ingredient. A lot of products sold claiming to contain pure P57 are found to contain little or none.
This is the real danger of buying products online from unknown or small companies.
Ensure that the company is authorized and licenced to export it from South Africa and Namibia. They will have a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificate.
There are no reports of side effects or toxicity.
It is not a stimulant like caffeine or ephedra so it is not expected to cause insomnia or loss of sleep.
Avoid use in children, pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding until we know more about this herb.
have are allergic to plant products or have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, blood disorder, anorexia, bulimia, previous history of heart attack or stroke, consult your doctor before you start taking it.
It is believed to be safe based on the limited studies done on animals.
There is no typical dosage data available.
Since there are no major reported side effects, start with a safe amount (e.g. 500 mg of the herb) and move upwards based on your response to it.
There is no information on using it as a weight loss patch on the skin.
We don't know if it can be absorbed through the skin. If p57 is not able to cross the skin, it will not be absorbed by the body and thus it will not work.
We cannot recommend using the weight loss patch formulation. Stick with the pills or liquid formulation instead if you are considering trying hoodia.
Should I take hoodia to help me lose weight?
At the moment, there's no good evidences showing that it actually works.
If the price is right, it may be worth giving it a try. However, don't hold your breath waiting for it to work. It just might not.
By the way, hoodia is not the only herb that's talked about in helping you shed a few pounds.
It would be prudent for you to check out on the benefits of green coffee beans for promoting weight loss.
Another supplement that's also discussed a lot is how turmeric is believed to help with loosing a few pounds.