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Garcinia Cambogia: Safe for Weight Loss?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a popular weight-loss supplement. People say it blocks your body's ability to make fat and it puts the brakes on your appetite. It could help keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check, too. You'll find it in bottles on the shelf at the store as well as mixed with other ingredients in diet products.
Does it live up to its hype? Maybe a little, but it might not be worth it.
How It Works
The active ingredient in the fruit's rind, hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, has boosted fat-burning and cut back appetite in studies. It appears to block an enzyme called citrate lyase, which your body uses to make fat. It also raises levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which may make you feel less hungry.
But actual weight loss results aren't impressive. A review published in the Journal of Obesityfound that people who took garcinia cambogia in studies lost about 2 pounds more than people who didn't take it. The reviewers couldn't say for sure that the weight loss was because of the supplement. It could have been from the lower-calorie diet and exercise programs the people in the studies typically followed. Better studies are needed to find out if HCA really helps people lose a lot of weight and keep it off.
Type 2 Diabetes and High Cholesterol
Garcinia cambogia may make it easier for your body to use glucose, the sugar your cells need for energy. Mice that got garcinia cambogia in one study had lower insulin levels than mice that didn't. That's another reason, besides weight loss, that people with diabetes are interested in it. However, if you're taking garcinia cambogia along with a medication to control your blood sugar, your glucose could get dangerously low.
Some research has found that garcinia cambogia can also improve cholesterol levels, lowering triglycerides and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol). But you shouldn't use it if you're already on a prescription for your cholesterol.
Possible Side Effects
When you take garcinia cambogia, you might get:
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration warned everyone to stop using a weight-loss product that contained garcinia cambogia because some people taking it got serious liver problems.
You need to choose a brand that has been adequately reviewed and is proven to be effective at a reasonable price.
The product had other ingredients, too, so it's not clear that garcinia cambogia was to blame. While some research suggests the supplement is safe for your liver, other research says no.
Garcinia cambogia may interact badly with:
You definitely don't want to use it when you're pregnant or nursing, or if you have kidney or liver problems. It is possible that manic symptoms may emerge as a side effect.
To Buy or Not to Buy
Since study results are mixed, you should talk with your doctor to help you decide if taking garcinia cambogia is a good idea. Even if it's safe, it may not help you lose much weight. It's probably wiser to spend your money on healthy food or an exercise DVD.
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Medscape: "Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists."
What Is Garcinia Cambogia?
The Malabar tamarind was once just the less popular cousin of a trendy fruit, the mangosteen. But now, nutritional supplements containing extracts of the fruit with the scientific name Garcinia cambogia have become the rage, touted for their purported ability to curb appetite and stop weight gain.
The Malabar tamarind, also known as the gambooge fruit, grows across southwest India, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Being fat may be the result of poor lifestyle choices or utter laziness.
HCA helps you eat only the amount of food that your body needs, and nothing more – helping you lose excess weight and maintain a healthy daily calorie intake.
It ripens to a red or yellowish fruit about the size of an orange, but resembling the shape of a pumpkin.
People have long used the dried gambooge rinds for chutneys or curries, and sometimes as an aid for stomach problems. But in the late 1960s, scientists identified a substance in the rind of the fruit called hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, which has some potentially attractive qualities.
"Some studies have shown that HCA stops an enzyme that turns sugar into fat," said Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which reviews evidence on herbs and supplements.
A fruit extract that could interfere with the body's production of fat? The appeal is obvious. However, good results in test tubes don't always translate to an entire person.
Does Garcinia cambogia work?
Some studies say HCA works, and some say it doesn't. Animal studies of HCA showed that mice taking the substance ate less, lost weight and produced less fat from sugar.
Human studies had more conflicting results. One weight loss trial showed no difference between people who took Garcinia cambogia and those who took a placebo pill. Other trials linked HCA to weight loss and healthy blood lipid levels (lipids are fats).
"Further, well-designed clinical trials are needed before any firm conclusions can be made," Ulbricht said.
If a pharmaceutical company wanted to sell HCA as a drug, the company would have to find stronger evidence that the substance worked, coming from better-designed clinical trials. Without that data, HCA wouldn't pass U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, Ulbricht said. But the FDA doesn't put chemicals sold as nutritional supplements under the same burden of proof as pharmaceuticals.
In fact, supplement makers only have to make their products safe to eat and responsibly label them. Also, recent laboratory tests showed that most supplements sold online contain substantially less HCA than the label claims.
Despite the popularity of Garcinia cambogia, it is difficult to track how effective supplements containing it are.
"Preparation of products may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from batch to batch within one manufacturer," Ulbricht said.
Additional culinary uses include the flavoring of curries, meat, and seafood.
That makes it difficult to compare one brand to another or even to measure the effects of a single brand.
Is Garcinia cambogia safe?
People may safely eat the fruit, of course. And clinical trials have shown it's safe to take Garcinia cambogia extract by mouth — at least for 12 weeks, the length of the studies.
But take caution. Garcinia cambogia has side effects — it may lower a person's blood sugar, so it can interact with diabetes treatments. The fruit hasn't been adequately studied in pregnant women or women who breastfeed. And Garcinia cambogia may be a problem for patients with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, Ulbricht said.
In 2009, the FDA issued a safety warning after receiving more than 20 reports of severe reactions, including liver damage, in people taking the supplement Hydroxycut. At the time, Hydroxycut contained Garcinia cambogia extract and other compounds, including chromium polynicotinate and Gymnema sylvestre extract.
A case study published in 2016 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology by Keri E. Lunsford, et al., examined an instance where Garcinia cambogia caused hepatic failure resulting in the need of a liver transplant. The subject had taken the supplement for several months before his liver had failed. The researchers report that this is the first known case of acute liver failure known to be tied to Garcinia cambogia. Liver damage due to other drugs and alcohol had been ruled out, and Garcinia cambogia was the only supplement or drug that the patient had ingested. Much more research is needed in this area, according to the researchers, and in the meantime, the public should be made aware of the potential risks of taking this supplement.
Ulbricht said it's unclear if the Garcinia cambogia extract caused the liver damage.
The bottom line is that people should tell their doctors before trying a new supplement, including Garcinia cambogia and HCA, she said.
Additional reporting by Rachel Ross, Live Science contributor.
Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe for Diabetics?
Natural supplements that include Garcinia Cambogia have become widely popularized in recent years because of their ability to help curb hunger and discourage the development of fat cells.
Worse case scenario, if you signed up for one of these offers you may have to cancel your credit card.
Men and women all over the world are claiming that it is able to help them manage weight and get healthy. But, one question that many interested users likely have is whether or not Garcinia Cambogia is safe for individuals that are diabetics? And, it is important to understand why this supplement may or may not be appropriate for you before you consume it or start any free trial program.
Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia
Garcinia Cambogia, also known as hydroxycitric acid, is derived from a fruit, called tamarind, which is pumpkin-like in nature. When included in natural supplements, it has been linked to a number of different benefits for those who take it, including:
- Weight management
- Improved glucose metabolism (according to a study shared in the American Journal of Physiology)
- Decreased appetite
- Increased serotonin productions
- Improved energy
However, you want to keep in mind that not all of these benefits have been clinically proven, yet many people claim to see these positive benefits from Garcinia Cambogia supplements. With that being said, many of these benefits certainly appeal to diabetic patients who want to control their blood-glucose levels in conjunction with their doctor prescribed treatments.
Diabetics Proceed with Caution
Some research has also suggested that weight management is not the only benefit of taking this type of supplement for an individual. Because decreased weight can help to reduce one’s blood pressure and sugar levels, it can only be assumed that simply by losing weight with Garcinia Cambogia it can benefit a diabetic, or anyone who has problems with blood-glucose levels. Additionally, because research indicates that Garcinia Cambogia also seems to reduce the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the intestines after eating it can help to decrease blood-sugar levels. This is an indication that this particular supplement can improve glucose metabolism, which is often a goal that is associated with patients who have diabetes ad are attempting to get it under control.
Yet, there have also been findings in diabetics with controlled blood glucose levels that show that their blood-sugar levels can actually drop too low when their treatment is combined with Garcinia Cambogia supplements.
After all, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.
The results of all studies surrounding the relation between diabetes and Garcinia Cambogia are inconclusive, making it difficult to recommend it to individuals with diabetes, especially for those who are taking insulin or medications to control their levels.
The short answer, as to whether or not Garcinia Cambogia is safe for individuals with diabetes is – researchers are unsure. If you are diabetic and considering taking any type of supplement that contains Garcinia Cambogia, you want to be sure that you consult with your primary care doctor first, before taking a single pill. Your doctor can help you to determine if it is safe to be mixing these supplements with any other type of medications you might be taking to keep your blood sugar levels under control.