Hoodia pills have been popular weight loss supplements for years but I have always been skeptical if they really worked or not. Online, it seems to me know few want to review hoodia in an unbiased way so that is what I want to do. Let’s now review what hoodia is, the actual weight loss research. From that we can get a better idea if hoodia's benefits and whether or not it might be right for you.
What is Hoodia?
Hoodia (Hoodia Gordonii) refers to a cactus – like plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The inhabitants of the desert are said to eat the roots and stems of hoodia to curb appetite as they trekked across the desert in search of food. It was this apparent curbing of appetite that got people thinking about whether hoodia might help people lose weight. Research suggests that the active ingredient in hoodia is a compound called “P 57”. Because of this, you will probalby see P57 showing up in the names for various hoodia supplements.
P 57 is said to work in the brain like the sugar, glucose. So, when you take hoodia the brain thinks it’s getting glucose. This curbs appetite by tricking the brain into thinking you have enough to eat.
Hoodia is found in many supplements. I have also looked at the the Hoodia Patch which people wear on their arm. See my Hoodia Patch review for more info on that particular product.
Hoodia Weight Loss Research
There is indeed some research on hoodia gordonii. In one study, 18 overweight men ate fewer calories when they were given hoodia gordonii compared to others who did not receive hoodia. Unfortunately this study was conducted in 2001 and was never published in a peer reviewed journal. This is a shortcoming. Also a study with only 18 people is a small study. Still these results are is intriguing. To date no human study of hoodia inducing weight loss in humans has ever been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Another study (unpublished) found that when hoodia gordonii (p 57 actually) was injected in the brains of rats, they ate less food. This is also intriguing but injecting hoodia into the brain is not the same thing as taking hoodia pills.
Yet Another study (this study was peer reviewed) did find that when chickens were given hoodia in their food (300 mg per day) they had a reduction in reduce fat pad weights by about 18%. Hoodia did not appear to alter how much the chickens ate.
The British pharmaceutical and supplement company Phytopharm has a license to develop hoodia supplements. They have been working on this since about 2001 to my knowledge. But , Phytopharm does not seem to have published any peer reviewed studies of hoodia pills (or P57). Unilever (the maker of Slim Fast weight-loss shakes) was also investigating hoodia gordonii but gave up. Likewise pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer has also looked at hoodia as a weight loss agent but lost interest years ago.
Hoodia Side Effects
For healthy people, I believe hoodia is safe. That said, if you have any health issues, do speak to your doctor. Don't assume that because its “natural” that it is safe for everybody.
- I believe people who take medications for heart disease should speak to their doctor or pharmacist first. The active ingredient in hoodia “looks” like some heart disease medications. Theoretically this means there may be an interaction with those medications.
- People who take blood thinner medications should talk to their doctor. Many supplements have primitive blood thinner properties that may interact with blood thinner medications.
- Stop taking hoodia at least 2 weeks before having surgery. This is wise advice for all supplements you take also.
- Don't take hoodia – or any weight loss supplement – if you are pregnant or while breast feeding.
Deal with companies you have heard of and have investigated. In 2011 the FDA alerted the public about a hoodia supplement (called P57 Hoodia) that contained an illegal weight loss drug called sibutramine . The drug is illegal in the US because it is linked to strokes and heart attacks. This particular product was made by a company based in China.
As a rule, I do not recommend supplements made in China. If you look at my reviews on Zi Xiu Tang, Slim Trim U and other Bee pollen weight loss supplements, you'll see similar instances where weight loss supplements contained sibutramine.
Does Hoodia Work?
Because of the lack of good research on hoodia pills, it is difficult to say how effective it might be. Right now nobody knows if hoodia pills work or not.
In spite of this, what research that does exist is somewhat tantalizing. Still there are many questions that need to be answered. For example, here is a short list of unknown questions:
- Does hoodia gordonii (or P57) work in the “real world” outside the lab where people are exposed to the normal stressors to eat.
- How much hoodia gordonii is needed to cause weight loss?
- Do hoodia pills have any side effects? There is very little known about side effects like ow hoodia interacts with diseases or other supplements – or medications. Obviously, pregnant women, kids and people with medical issues should speak to their physician before using hoodia gordonii – or any supplement.
Remember the people who live in the Kalahari Desert use the plant to curb appetite –not lose weight. They are always running around the desert chasing down their next meal. They don’t live around the corner from supermarkets. Weight loss is different than curbing appetite. Just because eating pure hoodia gordonii might curb appetite in skinny people who exercise all day does not mean hoodia pills cause weight loss in overweight people who do not exercise.
Some have said that there is not enough hoodia gordonii on Earth to fill all the hoodia pills n the market today. Another hoodia supplement Ive looked at is Healthe Trim so see that for more info.
Be sure to investigate the company whose product you use. Some independent labs have also found hoodia supplements that contains zero hoodia!
Here are all the Hoodia supplements on Amazon so you can see what others are saying and compare prices.
What do you think?