What is garcinia cambogia for weight loss
As a result of poor test results and chemical ingredients, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the nutritional supplement and will not until further testing is done.
What is Garcinia cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is an extract obtained from the dried fruit of the Garcinia cambogia (GC) tree, a native plant species of South India and South Asia. 1,2 The fruit looks like a small green pumpkin, and is used extensively in Asian-style cooking for its sour flavor.
What is the active ingredient and how does it work?
The skin, or rind of Garcinia cambogia fruit contains large amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is a derivative of citric acid, and is marketed as a weight loss supplement, either alone or in combination with other supplements. 1,2
How HCA works to promote weight loss is not precisely known, but several theories exist. Some experts believe it works by inhibiting an enzyme called citrate lyase, interfering with the conversion of unused carbohydrates into fat. Although HCA does have this effect on carbohydrates in a laboratory petri dish, it is unproven whether it does this once inside the body. 1,2
Other experts suggest HCA affects other enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, such as pancreatic alpha amylase and intestinal alpha glucosidase. A few postulate that it increases the release or availability of serotonin in the brain, promoting appetite suppression. 1,2 Nobody knows for sure just how HCA works… or if it really does work.
Is there any evidence to support Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement?
Several trials have investigated use of Garcinia cambogia for weight loss in humans. Some of these trials are of better quality than others, and reviews that group trials together to look for an overall effect give us a better “bigger picture” than just looking at the results of a single trial.
An analysis in 2011 by Onakpoya et al 1 found 12 trials that investigated the effect of Garcinia cambogia for weight loss that matched their strict quality criteria. Although they found evidence that Garcinia cambogia did promote weight loss in the short term, the effect was small and barely significant. The same conclusion was reached in another review by Fassina et al 2 in 2015 of 17 trials, both in humans and animals. Interestingly, in one of the largest individual trials of 135 people, both the active group (the group taking GC) and the control group (the group taking a placebo – or an inactive supplement) lost a significant amount of weight over a 12-week treatment period. 3 As many other previous trials have suggested, it is often the support and encouragement people receive to lose weight that makes more of a difference than any diet or supplement.
In summary, evidence so far does not suggest Garcinia cambogia is effective as a weight loss supplement; although larger scale trails conducted over a longer period of time may shed more light on the subject.
For now, increasing physical activity levels, avoiding alcohol, and eating a healthier diet with more vegetables, whole grains, and less red meat is more likely to make you shed weight long-term than Garcinia cambogia supplements.
Is there any harm in taking Garcinia cambogia supplements?
It is important to remember that ANY product labeled as “natural” or “herbal” is not unquestionably safe. Herbal remedies classified as dietary supplements in the United States are regulated as food products. This means they have not been subjected to the same requirements for safety or efficacy as medicines.
Garcinia cambogia has been implicated in causing liver damage, both when used in combination with other ingredients (for example, in the original formulation of the product Hydroxycut) and when used by itself. Two severe cases are documented. The first was a 52-year-old female who developed severe liver failure requiring a liver transplant after taking 1000 mg of Garcinia cambogia for 15 days, and the other was a 42-year-old female who developed abnormally high liver function tests and coagulopathy (an impaired ability of the blood to clot) after one week of taking GC. 4 The second lady recovered without incident several days after Garcinia cambogia was discontinued. Interestingly, the manufacturer of Hydroxycut temporarily withdrew the product, but it has since returned a reformulated version that lacks Garcinia cambogia to the market. 5
Other reported adverse effects are generally mild when Garcinia cambogia is taken at the recommended dosage and include stomach upset, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea. 2,6 Herbal remedies should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and anybody with heart disease or other medical conditions should consult their doctor before use. Some studies have suggested that Garcinia cambogia can lower blood sugar or interfere with diabetes control, so it is particularly important if you have diabetes that you talk with your doctor.
On the positive side, unlike stimulants such as phentermine, Garcinia cambogia does not act on the central nervous system, so does not cause sleeplessness, anxiety, affect the heart or blood pressure, and its efficiency does not decrease with time.
In fact, supplement makers only have to make their products safe to eat and responsibly label them.
Does Garcinia cambogia have any effect on blood sugars?
There have been several contradictory claims about the effects Garcinia cambogia has on blood glucose control with some celebrity endorsements even suggesting it may be beneficial for people with diabetes. While studies in rats have shown a reduction in the amount of glucose absorbed and less of a spike in blood glucose levels following a meal, rats are not humans so studies were needed to determine if this also applied to humans.
Thazhath et al 8 took 12 healthy participants and 8 people with diabetes and compared the effects of hydroxycitric acid (the active ingredient of Garcinia cambogia) plus glucose to water plus glucose in a cross-over type trial. Although some reduction in blood sugar levels were seen in healthy people, there was no reduction in the blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Other markers, such as insulin response, were not affected.
Other human studies have also failed to support use of Garcinia cambogia for blood sugar control. Yonei et al 9 tested the effects of daily supplementation with Garcinia cambogia extract (500 mg/day as hydroxycitric acid) and L-carnitine (600 mg/day) on 35 healthy individuals aged 40-60 with a BMI of 24 or higher. After 8 weeks’ supplementation, the group receiving Garcinia cambogia had an increase of 4.5% in their total cholesterol, 4.1% in their fasting blood sugar levels, and 3.4% in their HbA1c (provides a reflection of long-term glucose control).
Conversely, a 2008 10 study reported a significant reduction in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol when Garcinia cambogia extract was combined with Amorphophallus konjac (also known for its weight loss properties). However, no effect was seen on triglyceride or glucose levels.
Generally speaking, most trials 11 have not shown Garcinia cambogia to have an effect on blood sugars or insulin control; one trial reported a lowering in healthy non-diabetic subjects while another reported an increase in fasting blood sugar levels in overweight individuals. Even though laboratory studies on human cells and animal studies suggested Garcinia cambogia reduced cell synthesis of lipids and increased degradation of cholesterol, human trials have been contradictory. No effects on triglycerides have been reported. Based on the evidence available, Garcinia cambogia is unlikely to have an effect on blood glucose or cholesterol levels, and does not appear beneficial for people with diabetes.
Does Garcinia cambogia interact with any medications?
Garcinia cambogia may interact with the following:
- Diabetes medications, including insulin – variable effects reported, always consult a doctor before use if you have diabetes. 12,13,14,15
Other possible, but unsubstantiated, interactions include:
- Iron supplements – several informative sites state Garcinia cambogia contains iron 12 ; however, most supplements use an extract of Garcinia cambogia, which is unlikely to contain high amounts of iron. Several other fruits (such as prunes, persimmons, and passion fruit) also contain iron but are not reported as interacting with iron supplements
- Serotonin-stimulating antidepressants (such as Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft) or pain medications (such as tramadol) – one mouse study 16 suggested Garcinia cambogia had a serotonin-enhancing effect; however, this has not been verified in humans
- Asthma medications (including montelukast) – one documented case study 17 of a woman who developed fatal liver failure after taking two dietary supplements (one of which was Garcinia cambogia) for two weeks on top of her usual asthma medications, including montelukast
- Statins – this is based on the fact that statins can cause rhabdomyolysis (a destruction of muscle cells). One case study 18 reported rhabdomyolosis in a women taking a combination weight loss supplement (of which one of the ingredients was garcinia cambogia); so some experts are concerned about a theorectical additive effect with statins (she was not taking a statin at the time)
- Warfarin – A man taking warfarin together with a combination herbal product that included Garcinia cambogia, reported a change in his INR (a measure of the clotting ability of the blood) that returned to normal after discontinuation of the supplement. 19
In addition, supplements of Garcinia cambogia may contain other nutrients such as calcium and potassium which may cause additive effects in people already supplementing their diet with these nutrients.
He contradicted himself saying that the package was mailed out and I should receive it today, then he said that the package would be mailed out later on today and that I should receive it within 3 to 5 business days.
Known as the “food effect”, this can make some of the extract’s contents unavailable to you.
Always read the label to see what ingredients are actually contained in your supplement, and always seek your doctor’s advice before taking any dietary supplements particularly if you take other medications.
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. 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.
Numerous studies have also been conducted by Georgetown University, Toho University University, and others that indicate pure Garcinia extract is the only way to go.
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. 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.
HCA blocks fat from forming by targeting your carbohydrates.
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.
The extract contains the acid Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA, which is the key ingredient to weight loss.
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. Click here to learn more about the webinar.
What is garcinia cambogia for weight loss
Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a popular weight-loss supplement. People say it blocks your body's ability to make fat and it puts the brakes on your appetite. It could help keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check, too. You'll find it in bottles on the shelf at the store as well as mixed with other ingredients in diet products.
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