Hca content in garcinia cambogia
What the Studies Tell Us Garcinia cambogia reviews, research results and weight loss testimonials have been mixed to say the least.
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.
Others work better and provide multiple effects but may be priced a little higher than regular weight loss pills.
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. 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.
This is the ‘by the book’ method, but if you don’t follow the rules strictly, you still shouldn’t be alarmed.
Since GC (traditionally also known as the Malabar tamarind) first began to gain popularity in the U.S.
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.
12. 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.
You don’t want to be using a knock-off as explained near the end of this article.
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
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. 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.
Each serving of 1400mg tablet contains no artificial colors or ingredients and manufactured in FDA registered laboratory.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Fat-Loss Hope Or Hype: The Truth About Garcinia Cambogia
Some say it's hyped, but others say it's just misunderstood. Hear from the researcher behind the most important studies and make your own decision!
Garcinia cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a small, sweet tropical tree fruit shaped like a pumpkin. In the late 1960s, scientists discovered an acid in the fruit somewhat similar to the citric acid found in fruits like oranges and lemons.
That acidвЂ”called hydroxycitric acid, or HCAвЂ”has ridden a rollercoaster ride of popularity over the last 20 years. It is alternately touted as a miracle weight loss supplement and derided as effective only in rats.
So where is the ride at now? Since late 2012, HCA has taken a steady ascent, and people around the world chat about "garcinia" like that's the name of their new personal trainer. (For the record, garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitic acid, and HCA all refer to the same thing. I'll stick primarily to HCA here to keep it simple). It can feel like anyone with even a passing interest in supplements has gotten asked by a small army of friends, loved ones, and cab drivers: "Is garcinia legit?"
So . is it? Knowing what I know now, this question sounds a little like asking, "Is a hammer legit?" It depends on the hammer and the person swinging it, right? So here's the deal: HCA isn't a miracle; it's a tool. Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of smashing their finger with a hammer can attest that tools only work when you know what to do with them and then follow through on that knowledge.
Luckily, in recent years we've learned a lot about not only what HCA supplements do in the body, but also how you can make the most of them. Here's what you need to know about this blockbuster fat-loss supplement.
HCA's Early Promise
HCA got its first taste of widespread popularity back in the '90s, after a number of studies concluded that it causedВ weight lossВ in animals.
Another study that used mice had similar results, showing that HCA enhanced endurance during running.
One thing we know is that HCA blocks a portion of an enzyme called citrate lyase, which helps turn sugars and starches into fat.
Block that enzyme, and carbohydrates get diverted into energy production rather than accumulating as body fat. Then, when you burn fat through effective training, there's less to replace it, and your overall fat level goes down.
HCA also seems to have an ability to helpВ suppress the appetite, but not in the same way as a stimulant-basedВ diet pill. Rather, it increases the level of satietyвЂ”satisfaction you receive from foodвЂ”making it easier to eat less. The mechanism by which it achieves this isn't entirely clear yet. The late great nutritionist Shari Lieberman suggested that a metabolic change brought on by HCA may send an appetite-suppressing signal to the brain via the amino acidВ 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is a direct precursor to the so-called "happy hormone," serotonin. Given that subsequent studies have shown elevated serotonin levels in subjects who took HCA supplements, she was likely on to something.
With these two impressive bullet points in its favor, HCA seemed on the verge of the big time, but the buzz faded quickly after a large study published in 1998 in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that it had "no effect" on human subjects.
End of the line, right? Not quite. Subsequent research has produced some very different conclusions and helped convince me, among many other previously skeptical people, that HCA has real potential as a weight-loss supplement.
It's All About How You Take It
A few years after the lackluster results in the JAMA study, I had the opportunity to talk about HCA with Harry Preuss, a researcher and pathologist at Georgetown University, who saw enough to like about HCA to keep researching it after its popularity had waned. Preuss, a past president of the American College of Nutrition, told me he thought the previous studies were discouraging but not conclusive.
He decided to take a closer look. "You have to take the right dose of the right product, and you have to take it properly," he told me. "In the JAMA study, they used whatever the dose was at the time, and they never even mentioned the type of citrate they used. You have to give enough so that it reaches the sites in the body that it needs to reach." In recent years, Dr. Preuss has continued to hammer on the idea that maximizing bioavailability with HCA is crucial for its success. Fail to prioritize it, and you set yourselfвЂ”or your study, in the JAMA's caseвЂ”to fail.
It's an old story. Vitamin studies are often done by people who use the wrong dose or the wrong form, and then seem almost gleeful when they're able to proclaim that the supplements "don't work." Prejudice confirmed; case closed.
Dr. Preuss, who went on to lead the most promising human studies into HCA, points out that there are three different forms of hydroxycitrates: those which are blended with calcium, potassium, or magnesium salts. The reason to add these salts is to decrease the degradation of free HCA into HCA lactone, an inactive form of the compound. These salts, which are added at a 1-to-1 or higher ratio in most commercial HCA supplements, also help your body more easily absorb the hydroxycitrate.
"If you have almost a pure calcium hydroxycitrate, it's just not going to work," he told me. He said he prefers hydroxycitrate that is bound to both calcium and potassium; he says the bond dramatically increases the absorption and effectiveness of HCA.
Dr. Preuss and his colleagues put this premise to the test in a study where they followed 30 healthy but overweight people ages 21-50 over an 8-week period. All of the subjects consumed a diet of 2,000 calories per day and walked for half an hour five days per week. One group was given Super CitriMax, a patented form of HCA bound with both calcium and potassium. The other group was given a placebo. At the end of the study, the placebo group had lost an average of three pounds, but the HCA group had lost an average of 12 poundsвЂ”a whopping 400 percent more weight. Their average BMI fell by 6.3 percent; in the placebo group, it fell only 1.7 percent.
To top it off, the HCA group experienced an almost double boost in serotonin levels compared to the placebo group. Higher serotonin levels are associated with fewer cravings, as well as a greater sense of calm. In a second similar study, Preuss and his colleagues tested 60 people, and this time, the HCA group lost an average of 10.5 pounds compared to the placebo group, which lost an average of 3.5 pounds.
"Perhaps the most remarkable result was in appetite control," Preuss says of the second study. "The placebo group had no change, but the HCA group had a 16 percent reduction in the amount of food they ate per meal!"
The Right Way To Supplement With HCA
It's far too easy to view supplements purely from the perspective of either "I take it" or "I don't take it." With some supplements, that's precise enough to see an effect. But the lesson here is thatВ how you take HCA matters. As such, Preuss has taken the new wave of HCA popularity as an opportunity to remind us all about how to get the most out of this supplement, most recently in a paper he co-authored for the Alliance for Natural Health in 2013 titled "Garcinia Cambogia: How to Optimize its Effects."
Here are Preuss' recommendations:
- Choose a preparation that is at a minimum 50 percent HCA and is not composed wholly of calcium salts: Make sure potassium (K) and/or magnesium (Mg) is present. If the product has a low lactone content, that is even better.
- Be sure to take an adequate dose. For a Ca/K preparation used successfully and reported in a peer-reviewed publication, the dose of extract was near 1.5 g, three times per day before meals. In this 60 percent HCA preparation, that approximates 0.9 g of HCA prior to each meal.
- Take the preparation on an empty stomach, i.e., 30-60 minutes before each meal.
- Remember, "If you don't comply, don't complain." Take the right dose at the right time.
Note that he says "near" 1.5 g three times daily. Why not exactly 1.5? Given that HCA supplements come in a range of potencies and mixtures, it can be hard to be exact. Aim for the 1.5 g benchmark, but don't be obsessive.
Why on an empty stomach? It takes advantage of the appetite-curbing effect of the supplement, but even more important, HCA needs some space to work its magic.
"In the presence of food, the hydroxycitrate salt can bind to some of the components in the meal and be inactivated," Preuss writes.