Garcinia cambogia side effects pregnancy
cambogia , severe or even fatal hepatotoxicity may occur.
Garcinia (hydroxycitric acid)
Scientific Name(s): Garcinia cambogia (Gaertn.) Desr. Family: Clusiaceae (Guttiferae)
Common Name(s): Malabar tamarind , hydroxycitric acid ( HCA )
The medical literature primarily documents weight loss and lipid-lowering activity for the plant. However, trials supporting its use are limited.
The dosages of G. cambogia extract in clinical trials ranged from 1,500 to 4,667 mg/day (25 to 78 mg/kg/day). The equivalent hydroxycitric acid (HCA) dose in the trials ranged from 900 to 2,800 mg/day (15 to 47 mg/kg/day). G. cambogia is available in capsule or tablet form with a maximum dose of 1,500 mg/day.
Avoid use if there is a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any components of G. cambogia .
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
The herb has documented drug interactions.
At least 15 clinical studies involving approximately 900 patients document very mild adverse reactions. Most adverse reactions included headache, dizziness, dry mouth, and GI complaints such as nausea and diarrhea.
Toxicology studies resulted in no toxicity or deaths in animals at dosages of HCA 5,000 mg/kg, equivalent to 350 g or 233 times the maximum dosage of 1.5 g/day of HCA. In patients taking certain combination weight-loss supplements containing G. cambogia , severe or even fatal hepatotoxicity may occur.
The genus Garcinia is mainly distributed in tropical regions and includes approximately 200 species. G. cambogia belongs to the family Guttiferae and is found in India, Malaysia, and Africa. G. cambogia is commonly found in evergreen or semievergreen forests of southwest India, where 36 other species have been documented. 1 , 2 The plant species has variability in its branching pattern, fruit color, shape, and size. 1 The tree is small-to-medium in size with drooping branches. The leaves are dark green and glossy, oval-shaped with a narrow end, 5 to 12 cm in length, and 2 to 7 cm around. The tree is tolerant to drought and flowers during the hot season. The yellow, orange, or red fruit ripens during the rainy season and contains HCA. It is ovoid in shape, 5 centimeters around, has 6 to 8 seeds, and is listed in the US Department of Agriculture inventory of perennial edible fruits. 2
Dried fruit rinds have been used extensively for centuries throughout Southeast Asia for culinary purposes as a condiment and flavoring agent in place of tamarind or lemon. Additional culinary uses include the flavoring of curries, meat, and seafood. The fruit extract has been used as a flavoring agent for beverages and gourmet spices, as well as a carminative, thereby helping to prevent the formation of gas in the GI tract after a meal. HCA and other organic acids from the dried rind combined with salt help lower pH and provide a bacteriostatic effect used in curing fish. The herb is considered beneficial for overall health in the traditional Ayurvedic medical system. Rheumatism and bowel complaints are treated with a decoction of the fruit rind. A rinse is used from the herbal extract in veterinary medicine for some diseases of the mouth in cattle. HCA has also become popular as an ingredient for weight loss. 2 , 3 , 4
HCA is the primary medicinal component contained in the fruit rinds of G. cambogia . 5 HCA is present as up to 30% by weight in the pericarp of G. cambogia fruit. 6 Xanthones, xanthone derivatives, and polyisoprenylated benzophenones have been isolated. 6 , 7 Some salts used in commercial products are water soluble and bioavailable, and are a good source of calcium (495 mg) and potassium (720 mg). 8 Studies also document interest in production of HCA by using microorganisms. 9 , 10
Uses and Pharmacology
The medical literature primarily documents research on the weight loss and lipid-lowering activity of the plant.
In vitro and animal data
In 2 experiments using the human hepatoma cell line HepG2, overnight exposure to G. cambogia extract caused an upregulation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor activity and an upregulation of the level of HMG-CoA reductase resulting in decreased cholesterol synthesis. 11 Flavonoids from the plant reduced lipid levels in normal and hypercholesterolemic rats. 7 Reductions were also documented in triglycerides, phospholipids, and free fatty acids. The mechanism of action for the flavonoids may involve: (1) reducing the rate of lipogenesis by reducing the activities of lipogenic enzymes, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and isocitrate dehydrogenase; and (2) increasing the rate of degradation of cholesterol leading to higher levels of hepatic and fecal bile acids, as well as neutral sterols in rats treated with the herb. While dexamethasone typically elevates lipid profiles, G. cambogia extract maintained normal lipid levels in rats administered dexamethasone. 12
In a 4-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 150 obese patients were treated with a dietary supplement ( G. cambogia extract 55 mg, chitosan 240 mg, and chrome 19 mg) together with a weight reduction regimen. Treatment groups administered the dietary supplement showed statistically significant dose-related reductions in weight, total and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, and improvement in high density lipoprotein cholesterol. 13
The suggested mechanism of action involves HCA-inhibiting lipogenesis, increasing lipid oxidation, and reducing food intake. 3 , 14
A study in obese rats found high doses of HCA-containing G. cambogia (154 mmol HCA/kg diet) effective in suppressing epididymal adipose tissue. This same study also found testicular atrophy and toxicity at dosages of 778 mg HCA/kg body weight/day (102 mmol HCA/kg diet) and higher. 4 Another study in rats administered a high-fat diet and a mixture of G. cambogia extract, soypeptide, and L-carnitine, led to a reduction in body weight and accumulation of visceral fat mass. 15 The mixture also improved blood and hepatic lipid concentrations or the induced dyslipidemia in the rats. Other combination products with G. cambogia are also effective in reducing weight gain and improving dyslipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, hyperleptinemia, and fatty liver in mice. 16 The antiobesity effect involves modulation of several genes associated with visceral adipogenesis. One study in adult, nonobese cats found no effect on fat-free mass or energy expenditure. 17
In an 8-week randomized clinical trial, 40 patients were given either placebo or G. cambogia extract (500 mg/capsule) by mouth before each meal. Patients administered the extract exhibited weight loss and improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides when compared with the placebo group. 2
In a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 40 obese patients were treated with a combination supplement containing G. cambogia 50 mg as well as a 1,200 calorie diet per day. Two tablets of the supplement were taken by mouth 3 times a day after meals. The treatment group attained a 3.5 kg weight loss versus 1.2 kg on placebo, and a more than 85% reduction in fat loss in body composition measurements. The majority of the active group participants did not follow the diet regimen. 18
In a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial, 89 mildly overweight women were treated with a 1,200 kcal diet along with 2 caplets of G. cambogia 400 mg or matched placebo 3 times a day before each meal. At the end of the trial, both groups lost weight, but the treatment group achieved greater reduction in body weight. G. cambogia had no effect on appetitive variables. 14
Numerous studies document the safety profile of the calcium-potassium double salt of 60% HCA preparation (HCA-SX), as well as its bioavailability and efficacy in helping patients attain a healthy body weight. 3 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23
An 8-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study examined the efficacy of HCA-SX in 54 overweight patients. The treatment group was administered a combination supplement containing G. cambogia 500 mg 3 times a day while the control group received the placebo. All patients were asked to maintain a low-fat diet and drink 64 oz of water per day. The treatment group lost an average weight of 11.14 lb/person as compared with the control group, which lost an average of 4.2 lb/person. 19
Another 8-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study examined the efficacy of HCA in 60 obese patients.
This acid helps to supress your appetite and blocks fat from being stored in the process.
The dosage regimen for HCA was 400 mg 3 times a day before each meal. All patients were on a low-fat diet and also instructed to exercise 3 times a week. Results indicated weight loss for the experimental group compared with the placebo group and that 87% of the weight loss in the HCA group was because of fat loss. Appetite scores were also reduced in the HCA-treated group. 19
Visceral, subcutaneous, and total fat accumulation were reduced in 39 patients over 16 weeks in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The dosage regimen included HCA 1,000 mg/day versus placebo. At the end of the treatment, both groups were administered placebo for 4 weeks and no rebound effect was documented. 24
Another clinical study documented that treatment with HCA failed to produce weight change and fat mass change in patients. 25 However, the design of the clinical trial, the lack of bioavailability, and dosage of HCA used have been criticized. 2
Other pharmacologic activity
Some studies found that supplementation with G. cambogia can reduce oxidative damage. 26
The fruit contains xanthones, which inhibit pre-neoplastic lesions in mammary and colon cancer. The xanthones may also induce apoptosis in mouth, leukemia, breast, gastric, and lung cancer cell lines in vitro. 27
Glucose metabolism may be improved by lowering serum insulin levels in mice treated with G. cambogia . Leptin is a hormone associated with appetite control. G. cambogia may have leptin-like activity as mice treated with G. cambogia had decreased serum leptin levels and a reduced leptin/white adipose tissue ratio. 28 HCA treatment delayed and reduced intestinal glucose absorption in rats; the treatment causes delayed intestinal absorption of glucose rather than delayed gastric emptying. 29
HCA promoted lipid oxidation and reduced carbohydrate use in mice at rest and during running. 30 The utilization of respiratory gases was reduced for mice treated with HCA at rest and during exercise. Some studies on herbal coffee supplements with HCA showed an increase in resting energy expenditure to enhance metabolic rates and promote weight and fat loss. 31 , 32
Antiulcer activity was observed against induced gastric mucosal injury in rats with pretreatment of G. cambogia extract that decreased volume and acidity of gastric juice. 33 A similar study in rats found activity against indomethacin-induced gastric ulcers. 34 The anti-inflammatory activity of G. cambogia protected against induced colitis in rats. 35
Red blood cell count
A G. cambogia extract caused an increase in the red blood cell (RBC) count in rat tissue. The activity may be (1) associated with the iron in G. cambogia , as iron is an erythropoietic agent; (2) antioxidant activity and may decrease the rate of oxidant-induced hemolysis, which increases the life span of the RBC; or (3) the content of bioflavonoids in the plant, which may increase the level of peripheral testosterone, which can stimulate erythropoiesis in humans. 36
The dosages of G. cambogia extract in clinical trials ranged from 1,500 to 4,667 mg/day (25 to 78 mg/kg/day). The equivalent HCA dose in the trials ranged from 900 to 2,800 mg/day (15 to 47 mg/kg/day). 2 , 14 , 18 , 19 , 23 , 24 , 25 G. cambogia is available in capsule or tablet form with a maximum dose of 1,500 mg/day.
Due to lack of clinical and scientific information, use should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. One animal study in rats documented decreased maternal body weight gain during gestation. 37
In patients taking medications for diabetes by mouth or insulin, G. cambogia may lower blood sugar levels. 28 , 29
G. cambogia contains iron and thus may have additive adverse reactions for patients taking medications for anemia. 36
Potassium and calcium supplements
Some commercial G. cambogia products contain adequate amounts of potassium and calcium. 8 Caution is advised for patients taking medications for heart disease, high blood pressure, or arrhythmia while supplementing with any product containing this herb.
A mouse study using a commercial polyherbal product containing G. cambogia found a potential serotonergic effect on food intake. Caution is advised for patients being treated for pain or taking medications for any psychiatric condition. 38
Singulair (or leukotriene receptor antagonists)
One case report documented fatal liver failure in a patient taking Singulair and 2 dietary supplements, one of which included G. cambogia and citrus derivatives. 39
A case report of rhabdomyolysisis is documented in a patient taking a combination herbal medicine containing G. cambogia . 40
In one case report, the international normalized ratio of a patient returned to normal after he stopped taking a combination herbal product containing G. cambogia . 41
A total of 15 clinical studies involving approximately 900 patients documented very mild adverse reactions. Most adverse reactions included headache, dizziness, dry mouth, and GI complaints such as nausea and diarrhea. 2 , 42
Toxicology studies resulted in no toxicity or deaths in animals at HCA dosages of 5,000 mg/kg, equivalent to 350 g or 233 times the maximum dose of 1.5 g/day of HCA. 5 In patients taking certain combination weight-loss supplements containing G. cambogia , severe or even fatal hepatotoxicity may occur. 43 , 44 Some animal studies document testicular toxicity, 4 , 45 while other studies do not. 46 , 47
No unusual electrocardiographic effects (QTc interval or other electrocardiograph variables) were seen over 5 hours in patients taking half the recommended dose of a multicomponent weight loss supplement containing G. cambogia . 48 Patients receiving G. cambogia extract (1,667.3 mg/kg equivalent to 1,000 mg HCA/day) for 12 weeks exhibited no reproductive toxicity on serum testosterone, estrone, and estradiol levels. 49
2. Soni MG, Burdock GA, Preuss HG, Stohs SJ, Ohia SE, Bagchi D. Safety assessment of (-)-hydroxycitric acid and Super CitriMax, a novel calcium/potassium salt. Food Chem Toxicol . 2004;42(9):1513-1529.
3. Ohia SE, Opere CA, LeDay AM, Bagchi M, Bagchi D, Stohs SJ. Safety and mechanism of appetite suppression by a novel hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX). Mol Cell Biochem . 2002;238(1-2):89-103.
4. Saito M, Ueno M, Ogino S, Kubo K, Nagata J, Takeuchi M. High dose of Garcinia cambogia is effective in suppressing fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats, but highly toxic to the testis. Food Chem Toxicol . 2005;43(3):411-419.
5. Jena BS, Jayaprakasha GK, Singh RP, Sakariah KK. Chemistry and biochemistry of (-)-hydroxycitric acid from Garcinia . J Agric Food Chem . 2002;50(1):10-22.
6. Masullo M, Bassarello C, Suzuki H, Pizza C, Piacente S. Polyisoprenylated benzophenones and an unusual polyisoprenylated tetracyclic xanthone from the fruits of Garcinia cambogia . J Agric Food Chem . 2008;56(13):5205-5210.
7. Koshy AS, Anila L, Vijayalakshmi NR. Flavonoids from Garcinia cambogia lower lipid levels in hypercholesterolemic rats. Food Chem . 2001;72(3):289-294.
8. Downs BW, Bagchi M, Subbaraju GV, Shara MA, Preuss HG, Bagchi D. Bioefficacy of a novel calcium-potassium salt of (-)-hydroxycitric acid. Mutat Res . 2005;579(1-2):149-162.
9. Hida H, Yamada T, Yamada Y. Production of hydroxycitric acid by microorganisms. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem . 2005;69(8):1555-1561.
10. Yamada T, Hida H, Yamada Y. Chemistry, physiological properties, and microbial production of hydroxycitric acid. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol . 2007;75(5):977-982.
11. Berkhout TA, Havekes LM, Pearce NJ, Groot PH. The effect of (-)-hydroxycitrate on the activity of the low-density-lipoprotein receptor and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase levels in the human hepatoma cell line Hep G2. Biochem J . 1990;272(1):181-186.
2 Dried fruit rinds have been used extensively for centuries throughout Southeast Asia for culinary purposes as a condiment and flavoring agent in place of tamarind or lemon.
Garcinia cambogia is not a miracle pill or a loose weight fast scheme; rather it will effectively help in overall weight loss with your effort and hard work.
Mahendran P, Devi CS. Effect of Garcinia cambogia extract on lipids and lipoprotein composition in dexamethasone administered rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol . 2001;45(3):345-350.
13. Girola M, De Bernardi M, Contos S, et al. Dose effect in lipid-lowering activity of a new dietary integrator (chitosan), Garcinia combogia extract and chrome. Acta Toxicol Ther . 1996;17(1):25-40.
14. Mattes RD, Bormann L. Effects of (-)-hydroxycitric acid on appetitive variables. Physiol Behav . 2000;71(1-2):87-94.
15. Kim YJ, Kim KY, Kim MS, Lee JH, Lee KP, Park T. A mixture of the aqueous extract of Garcinia cambogia , soy peptide and L: -carnitine reduces the accumulation of visceral fat mass in rats rendered obese by a high fat diet. Genes Nutr . 2008;2(4):353-358.
16. Kim KY, Lee HN, Kim YJ, Park T. Garcinia cambogia extract ameliorates visceral adiposity in C57BL/6J mice fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem . 2008;72(7):1772-1780.
17. Leray V, Dumon H, Martin L, et al. No effect of conjugated linoleic acid or Garcinia cambogia on fat-free mass, and energy expenditure in normal cats. J Nutr . 2006;136(suppl 7):1982S-1984S.
18. Thom E. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a new weight-reducing agent of natural origin. J Int Med Res . 2000;28(5):229-233.
19. Lau FC, Bagchi M, Sen C, Roy S, Bagchi D. Nutrigenomic analysis of diet-gene interactions on functional supplements for weight management. Curr Genomics . 2008;9(4):239-251.
20. Talpur N, Echard BW, Yasmin T, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Effects of niacin-bound chromium, Maitake mushroom fraction SX and (-)-hydroxycitric acid on the metabolic syndrome in aged diabetic Zucker fatty rats. Mol Cell Biochem . 2003;252(1-2):369-377.
21. Bagchi D, Deshmukh NS, Soni MG, Bagchi M. Safety of a novel calcium/potassium salt of (-)-hydroxycitric acid: I. Two generation reproduction toxicity study. Toxicol Lett . 2007;172(suppl 1):S190.
22. Asghar M, Monjok E, Kouamou G, Ohia SE, Bagchi D, Lokhandwala MF. Super CitriMax (HCA-SX) attenuates increases in oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, and body weight in developing obese Zucker rats. Mol Cell Biochem . 2007;304(1-2):93-99.
23. Preuss HG, Rao CV, Garis R, et al. An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management. J Med . 2004;35(1-6):33-48.
24. Hayamizu K, Ishii Y, Kaneko I, et al. Effects of Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) on visceral fat accumulation: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CurrTher Res Clin Exp . 2003;64(8):551-567.
25. Heymsfield SB, Allison DB, Vasselli JR, Pietrobelli A, Greenfield D, Nunez C. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA . 1998;280(18):1596-1600.
26. Yonei Y, Takahashi Y, Hibino S, Watanabe M, Yoshioka T. Effects on the human body of a dietary supplement containing L-carnitine and Garcinia cambogia extract: a study using double-blind tests. J Clin Biochem Nutr . 2008;42(2):89-103.
27. Mazzio EA, Soliman KF. In vitro screening for the tumoricidal properties of international medicinal herbs. Phytother Res . 2009;23(3):385-398.
28. Hayamizu K, Hirakawa H, Oikawa D, et al. Effect of Garcinia cambogia extract on serum leptin and insulin in mice. Fitoterapia . 2003;74(3):267-273.
29. Wielinga PY, Wachters-Hagedoorn RE, Bouter B, et al. Hydroxycitric acid delays intestinal glucose absorption in rats. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol . 2005;288(6):G1144-G1149.
30. Ishihara K, Oyaizu S, Onuki K, Lim K, Fushiki T. Chronic (-)-hydroxycitrate administration spares carbohydrate utilization and promotes lipid oxidation during exercise in mice. J Nutr . 2000;130(12):2990-2995.
31. Hoffman JR, Kang J, Ratamess NA, Jennings PF, Mangine G, Faigenbaum AD. Thermogenic effect from nutritionally enriched coffee consumption. J Int Soc Sports Nutr . 2006;3:35-41.
32. Taylor LW, Wilborn CD, Harvey T, Wismann J, Willoughby DS. Acute effects of ingesting Java Fittrade mark energy extreme functional coffee on resting energy expenditure and hemodynamic responses in male and female coffee drinkers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr . 2007;4:10.
33. Mahendran P, Sabitha KE, Devi CS. Prevention of HCl-ethanol induced gastric mucosal injury in rats by Garcinia cambogia extract and its possible mechanism of action. Indian J Exp Biol . 2002;40(1):58-62.
34. Mahendran P, Vanisree AJ, Shyamala Devi CS. The antiulcer activity of Garcinia cambogia extract against indomethacin-induced gastric ulcer in rats. Phytother Res . 2002;16(1):80-83.
35. dos Reis SB, de Oliveira CC, Acedo SC, et al. Attenuation of colitis injury in rats using Garcinia cambogia extract. Phytother Res . 2009;23(3):324-329.
36. Oluyemi KA, Omotuyi IO, Jimoh OR, Adesanya OA, Saalu CL, Josiah SJ. Erythropoietic and anti-obesity effects of Garcinia cambogia (bitter kola) in Wistar rats. Biotechnol Appl Biochem . 2007;46(pt 1):69-72.
37. Deshmukh NS, Bagchi M, Yasmin T, Bagchi D. Safety of a novel calcium/potassium salt of (-) hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX): II. Developmental toxicity study in rats. Toxicol Mech Methods . 2008;18(5):443-451.
38. Kaur G, Kulkarni SK. Investigations on possible serotonergic involvement in effects of OB-200G (polyherbal preparation) on food intake in female mice. Eur J Nutr . 2001;40(3):127-133.
39. Actis GC, Bugianesi E, Ottobrelli A, Rizzetto M. Fatal liver failure following food supplements during chronic treatment with montelukast. Dig Liver Dis . 2007;39(10):953-955.
40. Mansi IA, Huang J. Rhabdomyolysis in response to weight-loss herbal medicine. [Published correction appears in: Am J Med Sci . 2004;328(2):129.] Am J Med Sci . 2004;327(6):356-357.
41. Ferris DJ. Interaction between warfarin and Garcinia cambogia (Fat Burner); a case report. ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting . 38(DEC): p P-404(D). 2003.
42. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body weight reduction: systematic review. Obes Rev . 2005;6(2):93-111.
43. Shim M, Saab S. Severe hepatotoxicity due to Hydroxycut: a case report. Dig Dis Sci . 2009;54(2):406-408.
44. Lobb A. Hepatoxicity associated with weight-loss supplements: a case for better post-marketing surveillance. World J Gastroenterol . 2009;15(14):1786-1787.
45. Anno T, Oono H, Tamura K. Improvement of testicular toxicity in F/344DuCrj male rats fed Ca-type Garcinia cambogia extract by zinc supplemented diets. Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Gakkaishi . 2005;12(3):121-127.
46. Shara M, Ohia SE, Yasmin T, et al. Dose- and time-dependent effects of a novel (-)-hydroxycitric acid extract on body weight, hepatic and testicular lipid peroxidation, DNA fragmentation and histopathological data over a period of 90 days. Mol Cell Biochem . 2003;254(1-2):339-346.
47. Burdock G, Soni M, Bagchi M, Bagchi D. Garcinia cambogia toxicity is misleading. [Published correction appears in: Food Chem Toxicol . 2007;45(3):515.] Food Chem Toxicol . 2005;43(11):1683-1684; author reply 1685-1686.
48. Min B, McBride BF, Kardas MJ, et al. Electrocardiographic effects of an ephedra-free, multicomponent weight-loss supplement in healthy volunteers. Pharmacotherapy . 2005;25(5):654-659.
49. Hayamizu K, Tomi H, Kaneko I, Shen M, Soni MG, Yoshino G. Effects of Garcinia cambogia extract on serum sex hormones in overweight subjects. Fitoterapia . 2008;79(4):255-261.
Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health
Garcinia Cambogia: Does This Hyped Weight Loss Supplement Really Work?
Garcinia cambogia (GC) is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit that grows in Southeast Asia and India. The key active ingredient found in the rind of garcinia cambogia is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which some research suggests can help certain people lose weight. (1)
Currently, there are at least 14 separate HCA-containing products sold over-the-counter to consumers labeled as “garcinia cambogia.” Most people are drawn to the idea of using GC because of the potential that it can provide near-effortless, quick weight loss without the need to change someone’s overall diet or lifestyle very much.
GC itself is not a new product; in fact, it’s been consumed in parts of Asia for many years, although not for the purpose of losing weight.
How Garcinia Cambogia Extract Helps for Weight Loss Garcinia cambogia supplements work through the mechanisms of HCA – the very key ingredient that makes the extract a powerful weight loss solution.
Since GC (traditionally also known as the Malabar tamarind) first began to gain popularity in the U.S. several years ago — after appearing frequently in the media and on popular health-related TV shows — sales have gone up dramatically. More and more people are purchasing this so-called “weight loss miracle drug” in hopes of losing stubborn body and stomach fat they’ve been struggling with for years.
But just like most other weight-loss supplements, pills and products, studies regarding GC’s effects and safety have been mixed. While there’s some evidence that HCA might be able to aid in weight loss even when someone does not exercise often or change his or her diet very much, there’s also concerns regarding serious side effects that can occur, including liver damage or failure, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, and digestive problems.
Remember that just because GC is derived from a natural fruit doesn’t mean it’s always completely safe. So is garcinia cambogia ultimately worth trying? What’s the truth with this purported weight-loss supplement? Let’s take a look at how HCA works, in what situations GC might be helpful, and what adverse reactions are possible when using any type of weight loss drug.
Finally, it’s worth considering the fact that time and time again we see various fad diets and products publicized to help boost weight loss — but what really works in the end is living a healthy lifestyle long term.
Does Garcinia Cambogia Work? What the Studies Tell Us
Garcinia cambogia reviews, research results and weight loss testimonials have been mixed to say the least. By far the most well-publicized benefit of using garcinia cambogia is its ability to increase weight loss. Other claims that are commonly made about garcinia cambogia’s effects include:
- loss of appetite or less of a desire to eat than usual
- reduced cravings for unhealthy foods, such as sugar addiction
- a more positive mood (including feeling happier, more energetic and less tired)
- increased energy and concentration
- stabilized blood sugar levels
- improved bowel movements
- reduced joint pains
- improved cholesterol levels
- stronger desire to be physically active
Most of the claims above have not been backed by scientific studies, however some have. Let’s review the benefits of garcinia cambogia that actually have some merit and seem to be effective in some manner.
Some studies have found that garcinia cambogia might, in fact, be able to help with low amounts of fat loss, plus some of the other health concerns mentioned above, although its effectiveness is rarely strong or consistent. For example, research suggests that HCA works by blocking a certain enzyme called adenosine triphosphate-citrate-lyase, which contributes to the formation of fat cells. But studies comparing GC’s effects to controls have found that it might only increase weight loss by a mere one to two pounds on average.
These findings are exactly what researchers published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011. When they compared people who took garcinia cambogia extract to those who didn’t, the weight difference was very small (on average just about two pounds). Plus, it wasn’t even possible to conclude that GC was directly responsible for the additional pounds lost.
The meta-analysis reviewed results from 12 different trails involving GC and revealed a small, statistically significant difference in weight loss favoring use of garcinia cambogia products containing HCA slightly over use of a placebo. However, the analysis also found that some studies showed digestive side effects (“gastrointestinal adverse events”) were twice as common in HCA groups compared with placebo.
Results from various weight loss studies involving GC have been very mixed. One study in the meta-analysis reported a significant decrease in fat mass in the HCA group compared with placebo, two studies reported a significant decrease in visceral fat/subcutaneous fat/total fat areas in the HCA group compared with placebo, but two other studies found no significant difference at all between HCA and placebo. A study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that GC used for 12 weeks (1,500 milligrams dosage) “failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.” (2)
The conclusion of the meta-analysis regarding garcinia cambogia? Researchers summed up their findings by saying that “the magnitude of the effects are small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain. Future trials should be more rigorous and better reported.” (3) The bottom line is that if you’re struggling to lose weight, GC likely won’t be the answer, according to trial and controlled studies.
Studies have also suggested that it’s possible that HCA found in garcinia cambogia can help lower someone’s appetite by increasing production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with calm and happy feelings — and therefore, sometimes appetite suppression, less cravings and reduced desire for comfort foods. Animal studies show it might also help increase energy expenditure. (4)
Keep in mind, however, that this isn’t the case with all people, and there are other, potentially less risky ways to better manage your appetite and boost serotonin production (such as eating balanced meals with protein foods and healthy carbs at regular times throughout the day).
There’s some support for garcinia cambogia being able to improve cholesterol levels and lower high triglycerides. It might also be able to help raise HDL “good” cholesterol. It’s not safe for anyone already taking medications that affect cholesterol, however, and its effects don’t seem to be very reliable or strong.
Studies have found that GC has “no significant effect on anthropometric parameters, REE, triglycerides or glucose levels” but might have a small effect on lowering cholesterol. (5) Keep in mind that there are also plenty of other natural ways to improve cholesterol levels, including exercising and eating more dietary fiber from high-fiber foods like veggies, nuts, seeds and beans.
Finally, what about CG’s effects on blood sugar levels? Some evidence exists showing that garcinia cambogia can help control blood sugar by improving how cells take up glucose (sugar) to be used for energy. One way in which it might improve weight loss is through inhibition of pancreatic alpha amylase enzymes, changes in intestinal alpha glucosidase and alterations in fatty acid synthesis. This might be able to change how carbohydrates are metabolized. (6)
This might possibly help your body respond to insulin better, although it can raise the risk for having low blood sugar levels in some people, too. If you have a history of blood sugar swings, you’re prediabetic, diabetic or taking medications that alter insulin’s effects, GC might make your blood sugar drop dangerously low. While this doesn’t appear to happen in everyone who takes GC, it’s something else to consider and something to discuss with your doctor.
Potential Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects
While some people claim they don’t experience any side effects at all from using GC, others have had very different experiences. Here’s one disturbing account regarding the use of garcinia cambogia extract that you might not have heard about: It’s contributed to at least several patients winding up in the hospital with liver failure and needing emergency liver transplants.
A 2016 article published by the Transplantation Center at the Mayo Clinic reports that millions of Americans regularly use herbal supplements, often in pill form, but aren’t aware of their full effects.
It is not an easy feat, which is why many people give up early on and just accept their fate of being overweight and obese than just constantly see their efforts go down the drain and start from scratch over and over again.
Many weight loss drugs pose potential hidden dangers and are “associated with hepatotoxicity and acute liver injury.” (7)
In the case of garcinia cambogia, it can easily be overused and is not very well-regulated. Some manufacturers recommend taking high doses multiple times per day, for example 30 to 60 minutes before every meal for eight to 12 weeks straight. (8) Aside from liver damage, other garcinia cambogia side effects that can occur include:
- becoming fuzzy or weak
- fatigue and brain fog
- skin rashes
- an increase in catching colds/lower immune function
- dry mouth and bad breath
- digestive issues like nausea, trouble eating or diarrhea
Something else to consider about GC is the long list of its potential medical/drug interactions. Many people should avoid garcinia cambogia due to how it can affect other medications, pregnancy, nutrient levels, blood sugar and more. Garcinia cambogia can potentially interact badly with: (9)
- pregnancy and breastfeeding
- existing cases of liver or kidney damage
- medications that are taken to control asthma and allergies
- diabetes medications and insulin
- iron supplements (usually taken by people with anemia)
- pain medications
- medications used to control mental disorders like anxiety and depression
- statin drugs that lower cholesterol
- blood thinning drugs (like warfarin)
How Much Garcinia Cambogia Should You Take?
If you decide that you still want to try taking GC for weight loss or its other benefits, here’s what you need to know about dosage recommendations for products containing HCA:
- Studies using GC have used a wide range of doses, anywhere from one gram to 2.8 grams daily. Typical doses are ususally between 250–1,000 milligrams per day.
- Study durations have also varied widely, ranging from using GC between two to 12 weeks at a time.
- The optimal dose of HCA is currently still unknown. It’s not clear if a higher HCA dosage even means a higher bioavailability of HCA once consumed.
- There does seem to be a significant correlation between the dosage of HCA and body weight loss, meaning higher doses have slightly more effects.
- Garcinia cambogia continues to be the most widely used supplement in studies for providing HCA, however aside from GC, HCA can also be found in supplements made from the plant Hibiscus subdariffa.
- Because most studies have investigated the effects of GC taken for about eight weeks, researchers believe this is ultimately “too short a time to assess the effects of HCA on body weight.”
To err on the safe side, avoid buying garcinia cambogia “formulas” or “supplement blends,” which might fail to report all of the other ingredients included or accurate levels of HCA. Many proprietary formulas are made by manufacturers that only use a fraction of the active ingredient or standard dose to keep costs down. Always read labels and look for the words “pure garcinia cambogia” and “hydroxycitric acid (or HCA) extract” (this should be around 50 percent to 60 percent of the product). If you purchase a blend and see an ingredient listed without an amount, that can be a red flag that you don’t know exactly what you’re getting.
11 Weight Loss Methods That Really Do Work
In just about all studies involving garcinia cambogia, researchers note that it’s hard to tell if any demonstrated benefits (weight loss, reduced cholesterol, etc.) are really due to GC or are actually influenced by other factors like the subjects eating lower-calorie diets or exercising. It’s always possible for any supplement to cause a “placebo effect,” where subjects wind up changing their outlook and habits simply because they believe the product is helping them (even if it isn’t actually doing anything).
Another interesting fact that the Journal of Obesity meta-analsis reports is that most of the included studies “failed to indicate whether or not outcome assessors were blinded, and seven studies did not even specify who funded the garcinia cambogia studies.” While it’s possible that garcinia cambogia might help you lose an additional one to two pounds if you take it regularly, most experts don’t think it’s worth the money or the risk — especially considering its effects are so small and inconsistent.
Ultimately, taking weight loss supplements won’t teach you much about eating an overall healthy diet, finding ways to enjoy exercise, or practicing “intuitive eating” and managing cravings. So what can you do to move in the right direction of losing weight safely? Weight loss efforts should always be realistic, safe and sustainable. Remember that the real goal is to reach a healthy weight and stay there for life. That’s why quick fixes and fad diets have been shown in studies to fail in the long run over 95 percent of the time.
Here are some of my favorite tips for losing weight using reliable methods that really work:
- Get good sleep! A lack of sleep (less than seven to nine hours nightly for most people) can mean a lack of weight loss.
- Eat more fiber: Adults need to aim for at least 25–30 grams daily from things like veggies, fruit, ancient grains, sprouted legumes and seeds.
- Use healthy fats: Coconut oil has natural fat-burning effects just like GC does, plus many more benefits like improving gut health, too. Other healthy fats that can help control your appetite include real olive oil, avocado, fats from grass-fed beef, nuts and seeds.
- Utilize adaptogen herbs: Adaptogen herbs like maca, ginseng and rhodiola can help control health conditions that can make it hard to lose weight (like high amounts of stress, thyroid issues, leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, cellular toxicity and candida).
- Don’t skimp on protein: Protein foods are satisfying and essential for building muscles. Regularly include proteins like cage-free eggs and wild-caught fish in your meals.
- Consume probiotics: Probiotic foods and supplements not only help balance improve digestive health, but they also balance hormones, raise immunity, control your appetite and play a part in weight control.
- Switch up your exercise routine: Try burst-training exercises and other forms of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to keep challenging your muscles, work in with a group, add in weight training, and relax with yoga in between workouts.
- Stand up more during the day: Sitting for long periods of time is associated with being overweight and a higher risk for obesity.
- Sneak more fitness into your day: Take the stairs, do body weight exercises at home. or try wearing a fitness tracker for motivation — try some of these exercise hacks.
- Schedule your workouts ahead of time: This makes it much more likely you’ll follow through.
- Useessential oils for weight loss: Natural oils including grapefruit, cinnamon and ginger oil can help control your appetite, hormones and digestive symptoms.
From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut.
The fruit hasn't been adequately studied in pregnant women or women who breastfeed.
Click here to learn more about the webinar.
Find a Vitamin or Supplement
Brindal Berry, Brindle Berry, Cambogia binucao, Cambogia gemmi-guta, Garcinia affinis, Garcinia Cambogi, Garcinia cambogia, Garcinia gummi-guta, Garcinia sulcata, Gorikapuli, Kankusta, Kudam puli, Malabar Tamarind, Mangostana cambogia, Tamarinie.
See All Names Brindal Berry, Brindle Berry, Cambogia binucao, Cambogia gemmi-guta, Garcinia affinis, Garcinia Cambogi, Garcinia cambogia, Garcinia gummi-guta, Garcinia sulcata, Gorikapuli, Kankusta, Kudam puli, Malabar Tamarind, Mangostana cambogia, Tamarinier de Malabar, Vrikshamla.
GARCINIA Overview Information
Garcinia is a small to medium-sized tree that grows in India and Southeast Asia. The fruit rind contains the chemical hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and is used to make medicine. Don't confuse Garcinia with Garcinia hanburyi (gamboge resin).
How does it work?
Garcinia contains the chemical hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Developing research suggests that HCA might prevent fat storage, control appetite, and increase exercise endurance; however, whether these effects occur in humans is unclear.
GARCINIA Uses & Effectiveness
Insufficient Evidence for:
- Exercise performance. Taking a chemical compound found in Garcinia called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) might increase how long untrained women are able to exercise. However, it does not seem benefit men in the same way.
- Weight loss. Research on the effect of Garcinia on weight loss is inconsistent. Some research shows that taking Garcinia extract that contains 50% hydroxycitric acid (HCA) for 8-12 weeks doesn't decrease fat breakdown or energy expenditure in overweight people. However, other research suggests that it might improve weight loss when taken for 12 weeks. Taking a specific Garcinia product containing 60% HCA (Super CitriMax InterHealth Nutriceuticals) by mouth in three doses daily 30 to 60 minutes before meals for 8 weeks, together with a healthy diet, seems to improve weight loss more than just diet alone. But other research shows that adding this specific Garcinia product to cereal bars or tomato juice and consuming them before lunch and dinner for 2 weeks does not improve weight loss. Reasons for the inconsistent results might be the dose, duration of treatment, or formulation of Garcinia extract that was used.
- Joint pain.
- Treating worms and parasites.
- Emptying the bowel.
- Severe diarrhea (dysentery).
- Other conditions.
GARCINIA Side Effects & Safety
Garcinia is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for 12 weeks or less. Long-term safety is unknown. Garcinia can cause nausea, digestive tract discomfort, and headache.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
We currently have no information for GARCINIA Interactions
The appropriate dose of garcinia depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for garcinia. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
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