Hoodia is the sexy new weight loss ingredient that will revolutionize the diet industry, if you listen to all the hype. There are hundreds of diet pills, shakes, bars, and even lollipops on the market today that base their claims on hoodia. You would think from millions of dollars spent on advertising this miracle cure, everyone on the planet would be thin by now. They aren’t, of course, and obesity rates continue to climb. Understanding the facts about hoodia will help you decide if it should be a part of your diet regimen.
What Is Hoodia?
The hoodia used in weight loss products is derived from the Hoodia Gordonii plant. Hoodia Gordonii is a succulent that grows mainly in South Africa and Namibia. The plant has been used for centuries by African tribesmen to stave off hunger on long journeys across the Kalahari desert. The tribesmen believe that Hoodia Gordonii suppresses appetite.
In the late seventies, the active ingredient in hoodia believed to be responsible for the appetite suppression effect, named P57, was isolated and patented. Two major pharmaceutical companies, Phytopharm and Pfizer, were granted licenses to synthesize P57 for use in weight loss products. Pfizer abandoned the license in 2002 claiming difficulties with the synthesizing process as well as disturbing revelations about P57’s effect on the liver. Pfizer did not believe that the FDA would approve the synthesized hoodia.
Scientific fact did not stop diet products manufacturers from using natural hoodia gordonii in their products. In 2002, the San tribe has been granted exclusive rights over the hoodia plants in South Africa and they have granted licenses to harvest the plants for use in weight loss aids.
Hundreds of weight loss products now claim to contain hoodia and many point to a study done by Dr. Richard Goldfarb as proof of hoodia’s miraculous claims.
The Goldfarb Study
Dr. Richard Goldfarb of Bucks County Clinical Research conducted a clinical trial of DEX L-10, a diet pill containing hoodia. The study was conducted at the request of the diet pill manufacturer. The purpose of the study was to show that the pill worked. The study was conducted on only seven subjects. All subjects were given the diet pills and none were given a placebo. This means that the placebo effect could not be controlled for. The placebo effect states that some physical benefit may occur simply from the subject believing that they are getting medicine that works. When some subjects get the medicine and some get an inactive ingredient that looks like medicine, only the real benefits of the active ingredients will show. The conclusions of the study were that all of the seven subjects lost weight on the diet pills. This study was never written up in a peer-reviewed journal, which is the standard for clinical acceptance.
Because hoodia is used in weight loss aids, it is not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That leaves hoodia wide open to scams perpetrated by diet pill manufacturers who stand to make tens of millions of dollars a year peddling their wares.
A recent study by a laboratory investigating hoodia levels in “hoodia” diet products found that less than half of the products tested contained any hoodia at all. Many of the others contained hoodia gordonii in such small concentrations that the lab did not feel these could possibly have any therapeutic effect.
Likely Page Break
The only plant even thought to produce appetite suppressing effects is Hoodia Gordonii, but there are many other plants in the hoodia family. If the product doesn’t include the “gordonii” part in its ingredient list, it is most likely a scam.
Is Hoodia a Good Choice for Weight Loss?
In short, the answer is no. There simply is not enough available clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of hoodia as an appetite suppressant. There are no clinical studies to date that conclude that hoodia or P57 has any effect on weight loss in humans. There is no standardization of hoodia concentrations in diet pills which makes it impossible to assess if you are even getting an effective dose assuming it does work in the first place.
There are many diet products on the market that do contain clinically-proven ingredients to help with burning fat and losing weight. Hoodia, however, just doesn’t live up to all of its hype.