Garcinia cambogia safety

Garcinia cambogia safety
Most of us know it for the beneficial effect that it has on the process of losing weight.

Garcinia Cambogia Safety & Dangers, Risks, Side Effects

Understanding Garcinia cambogia safety and dangers as well as proper usage will reduce your risks of use.

Particularly the risk of experiencing not only unpleasant side effects, but interactions with other drugs or herbal supplements.

When taking any health or nutritional supplement or prescription medications, it’s important to know about safety.

Even herbal or natural supplements, regardless of whether they’re from nature or not, may cause some side effects and cause some safety concern issues, especially for certain individuals.

Table of Contents

Safety & Dangers of Garcinia Cambogia Extract

Garcinia cambogia is found in over 650 products today, so chances are some of the supplements you already buy contain some of this tiny fruit’s extract.

It pays to read the label.

Garcinia cambogia is actually a fruit indigenous to Southeast Asia, but it’s not the fruit itself that provides the most health benefits, but its rind.

The rind of the small fruit contains high levels of hydroxycitric acid or HCA.

Hydroxycitric acid or HCA, sold under both names, and as Garcinia cambogia, is a popular weight-loss supplement today.

HCA is believed to benefit weight loss due to components that not only suppress appetite, but have the potential to decrease the ability of the body to convert carbohydrates into fat.

Most of us know that fat forms when we fail to burn off the amount of calories we consume. The body utilizes carbohydrates for energy. If they’re not used right away, they’ll be saved or put in reserve for later use.

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel or energy for the body. When you eat a carbohydrate, or any food for that matter, that food goes through numerous digestive processes.

It starts in the mouth with the production of saliva, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates while you’re chewing your food.

When those broken down carbohydrates venture into the stomach, additional acids break those carbohydrates down into even smaller bits.

There, they venture into the small intestine where still more enzymes break carbohydrate components into glucose.

Glucose molecules are the actual form of energy that the cells in the body can use. While the cells require glucose for that energy, it can only get inside the cells when transported by insulin.

The process, quite involved and fascinating, is known as carbohydrate metabolism. Hydroxycitric acid is associated with weight loss because it is believed that the HCA can slow down or decrease the rate at which those extra carbohydrates are stored.

It is also believed that HCA also encourages the body to use up those glucose molecules before they have the opportunity to be stored as fat.

Safety & Dangers of Garcinia Cambogia Formula

Garcinia cambogia and its main active component for weight loss – hydroxycitric acid – is likely safe when used as directed.

However, some people do react to it, depending on age, overall health and wellness, and other contributing factors.

Discuss the Garcinia cambogia risks and side effects for weight loss effectiveness based on your condition and goals.

Some dangers regarding safety should be noted when using Garcinia cambogia.

Immensely impressed by recent scientific research, he dubbed garcinia cambogia as the “holy grail” to beat weight gain.

For example, some people do experience some mild side effects to HCA supplements that include dry mouth, dizziness, and headache.

If you happen to mix HCA or Garcinia cambogia with other supplements, you may also experience side effects, and sometimes negative and toxic reactions. This is especially risky if you’re taking any medications designed to deal with depression.

Moderate interactions have been noted with antidepressant drugs that contain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac or Zoloft.

The combination of Garcinia cambogia with antidepressants or any other serotonergic drug can increase a person’s risk of experiencing serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome basically defines hyperactivity of nerve cells within the brain that may have a very detrimental effect on numerous body symptoms.

For some, it can prove fatal. For this reason, it is recommended that individuals consult with a physician or pharmacist prior to taking the supplement in order to ensure reduced risk of dangers and enhanced safety.

Garcinia Cambogia and Low Blood Sugar Levels

Hydroxycitric acid can lower blood sugar levels.

If you’re diabetic and taking drugs that decrease blood sugar, don’t use HCA supplements, as your blood sugar levels may drop dangerously low, resulting in a condition known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

This can result in severe physical reactions, the most dangerous being seizures, and coma.

Few human studies have been completed regarding the risks of taking Garcinia cambogia when taken long-term.

The Garcinia cambogia dosage used in clinical trials has ranged from 15 to 47 mg per kilogram on a daily basis. While few interactions regarding Garcinia cambogia extract side effects have been noted, they can occur.

To avoid interactions, negative side effects, or safety issues, discuss use of hydroxycitric acid in any form or in any combination with other drugs or supplements with a primary care physician prior to use.

Garcinia Cambogia

On This Page

This fact sheet provides basic information about garcinia cambogia—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

Common Names: garcinia cambogia, garcinia, Malabar tamarind, brindle berry


  • Garcinia cambogia (Malabar tamarind) is native to India and Southeast Asia. The rind of its fruit is used to flavor fish curries and preserve food.
  • The rind contains a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been studied for its effect on appetite.

    You'll find it in bottles on the shelf at the store as well as mixed with other ingredients in diet products.

    What they fail to realize is that getting fit and weight loss can’t be achieved in a day or two, similar to how you don’t easily put on weight after just one eating binge.

    Garcinia cambogia supplements with HCA are marketed for weight loss.

  • Garcinia cambogia has also been used as a dietary supplement for rheumatism, intestinal problems, and other conditions.
  • Garcinia cambogia is made into a tea, capsules, extracts, tablets, and lotion.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Garcinia cambogia has been studied for weight loss, but there aren’t a lot of recent, reliable studies on its effectiveness.

What Have We Learned?

  • There’s no convincing evidence that garcinia cambogia will help you lose weight or control cholesterol.
  • In a very small study, women who were overweight were given garcinia cambogia extract or a placebo for 60 days. Triglyceride levels of the participants getting garcinia cambogia decreased by almost one-third. Triglycerides are a type of fat in blood and high levels may raise a person’s risk of developing heart disease. The participants’ HDL (the “good” cholesterol), LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), total cholesterol, and body weight didn’t change.
  • In another study, people who were overweight were given either garcinia cambogia extract, soy leaf extract, or a placebo. After 10 weeks, none of the supplements promoted weight loss or lowered total cholesterol.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Taking garcinia cambogia for short periods (12 weeks or less) appears safe for most people.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Astell KJ, Mathai ML, Su XQ. Plant extracts with appetite suppressing properties for body weight control: a systematic review of double blind randomized controlled clinical trials.Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2013;21(4):407-416.
  • Garcinia. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on April 10, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Greenway F. Garcinia. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:307-313.
  • Kim JE, Jeon SM, Park KH, et al. Does Glycine max leaves or Garcinia cambogia promote weight-loss or lower plasma cholesterol in overweight individuals: a randomized control trial. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10:94.
  • Lopez AM, Kornegay J, Hendrickson RG. Serotonin toxicity associated with Garcinia cambogia over-the-counter supplement.

    Since GC (traditionally also known as the Malabar tamarind) first began to gain popularity in the U.S.

    Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2014;10(4):399-401.

  • Semwal RB, Semwal DK, Vermaak I, et al. A comprehensive scientific overview of Garcinia cambogia. Fitoterapia. 2015;102:134-148.
  • Vasques CA, Schneider R, Klein-Júnior LC, et al. Hypolipemic effect of Garcinia cambogia in obese women.Phytotherapy Research. 2014;28(6):887-891.

Related Topics

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

This page last modified September 24, 2017

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20892

Can Garcinia Cambogia Help with Weight Loss?

Is there such a thing as a weight loss miracle drug?

Today’s market is full of “miracle drugs” and supplements that claim to help you drop pounds fast. It’s no wonder they fly off the shelves and into medicine cabinets across the country. TV personality Dr. Oz and others like him have showered praise on one of these products in particular: the controversial garcinia cambogia fruit.

Garcinia cambogia is a citrus fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. An extract from the fruit’s rind, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), has historically been used for cooking, but it has also been used for weight loss. You can buy garcinia cambogia online or at most health and supplement stores. It comes in pill form or as a powder. Let’s look at what, if anything, garcinia cambogia can do for your weight.

Advocates say that HCA, an organic acid, works by making you feel full, reducing your appetite, and affecting your metabolism. It’s this effect that has led many to herald it as a natural weight loss cure. Some say it may also help improve high cholesterol or enhance athletic performance.

The list of garcinia cambogia’s rumored benefits is a long one. It can be hard to determine the truth to the claims about its “miracle” properties. So, how do these health claims match up to scientific research?

1. Claim: Makes you feel full

Verdict: No evidence. An extensive review of the existing research on garcinia cambogia determined that there simply wasn’t conclusive evidence to suggest that the supplement or HCA had any effects on appetite and satiety.

It is such a shame that people get bullied and ridiculed because they are fat.

Although some rodent studies had positive results, no human studies could replicate them.

2. Claim: Lowers body weight

Verdict: No evidence. Existing evidence doesn’t prove that garcinia cambogia alone can facilitate weight loss. A 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in JAMA found that the supplement didn’t help with significant weight loss or decrease in fat mass. Both the control and garcinia group were placed on high-fiber, low-calorie diets.

3. Claim: Speeds metabolism

Verdict: Some evidence. There is some evidence that supplementing with garcinia cambogia can influence fat metabolism. Several studies have found that both mice and humans experience an increase in fat metabolism after supplementing with HCA.

4. Claim: Enhances athletic performance

Verdict: Some evidence. Garcinia cambogia may increase the amount of time it takes to reach exhaustion during exercise, according to one study. Another study that used mice had similar results, showing that HCA enhanced endurance during running.

In addition to knowing how well it works, you’ll also want to know about a supplement’s potential side effects. Reported side effects for garcinia cambogia are mild. They include:

There are still other factors you should consider when deciding whether to use a supplement such as garcinia cambogia.

Drug interactions

As with all dietary supplements, HCA could interact with medications you take. Before starting HCA, be sure to talk to your doctor. Make sure they know about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as other supplements.

Part of the allure of garcinia cambogia is the fact that it comes from a fruit, so it’s considered “natural.” However, this alone doesn’t make it a worthwhile supplement or even safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using caution with products that claim to be quick fixes, promise fast weight loss, and use the term “natural.” Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. There are many poisonous plants that are natural, but can cause you serious harm. Many plants interfere with medication or are actually medications themselves.

More importantly, dietary supplements such as garcinia cambogia aren’t studied or approved by the FDA before they go on the market. Furthermore, supplement makers can claim that their products support normal body functions as long as they have a disclaimer stating that the FDA hasn’t evaluated those statements. In other words, supplements containing garcinia cambogia have not been rigorously tested for effectiveness, quality, purity, or safety.

Possible liver problems

In 2009, the FDA recalled a product that contained garcinia cambogia because it was found to cause liver problems.

Garcinias Pure : Tout Le Pouvoir du Garcinia Cambogia Pour Perdre du Poids De nos jours, les produits amincissants sont de plus en plus nombreux à inonder le marché, ce qui fait que les consommateurs sont parfois perdus et ne savent pas vraiment vers quelle solution se tourner.

Research since then has been conflicted, with some citing a link between garcinia cambogia and liver damage and other research finding no link. You should discuss this risk with your doctor.

Long-term use

A review of studies on HCA found that no studies have effectively looked at garcinia cambogia use for longer than 12 weeks. That means there isn’t enough evidence to ensure that it’s safe and effective for long-term use.

The danger of scams

It’s free, so what’s the harm, right? Actually, those free trials for products that claim to help you lose weight fast can present more harm than you might think. From surprise shipping fees to extra charges for products you didn’t realize you ordered, these trials can end up costing you money. For information on how to avoid these scams, check out this page from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Miracle” weight loss solutions rarely live up to the hype. Even when there is scientific evidence of positive results, the results are often so mild and minimal that users are disappointed to learn they still have to exercise and control their eating in order to reap lasting and significant weight loss.

Dr. Oz has come under fire for promoting “miracle” weight loss products on his show. His claims got him into trouble with the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. There’s a reason that claims such as his about products with no clear evidence of effectiveness are taken seriously. Many consumers trust his opinion and could be misled into buying something that is, at best, a waste of time and money, and at worst, laden with potential side effects.

According to the FDA, any product, whether natural or man-made, that’s strong enough to work like a drug is capable of producing side effects. Before you add a dietary supplement to your weight loss plan, discuss it with your doctor. They can tell you if the product may be harmful or may be worth a try.

The best approach for weight loss is eating less fat and calories. Choose to eat whole, non-processed foods and burn calories with activity.