Hoodia is a weight loss supplement that is new to North America and the weight loss industry. It is another over the counter supplement sold to make the journey to thinness theoretically easier and painless.
Hoodia Gordonii was discovered in 1937 by a Dutch anthropologist. He found that African Bushman used the flowering plant to suppress their appetite and thirst, when they were traveling across the desert.
South African scientists, working with Phytopharm, a British pharmaceutical company, isolated the active ingredient – P57 in 1995. Then in 1998 Pfizer spent $21 million to sub-license the patent from Phytopharm. After some initial research Pfizer returned the license. (1) Then, in 2010 Phytopharm also let the patent lease expire. (2)
Hoodia weight loss supplements must contain the P57 from the Hoodia Gordonii plant to be advertised as Hoodia. There are over 13 different Hoodia plants and only one has been found to have the active ingredient that causes the appetite and thirst suppression.
Hoodia weight loss supplements work on the central nervous system to trick the body into thinking it’s full and avoid the nagging feelings of hunger. It also tricks the body into losing the trigger for thirst which can potentially cause problems with dehydration, especially on hot summer days.
People with diabetes should be careful using the supplement since it tricks the body into thinking that there is sufficient blood sugar. Without an adequate feedback mechanism, people suffering from diabetes can suffer dangerously low blood sugar drops that can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Before using any product you should always check with your doctor to determine if there are any interactions with medications you may already be taking or any underlying medical conditions from which you may be suffering. You pharmacist can also help you with interactions with any over the counter medications you be thinking of taking.
As with any other herbal supplement, Hoodia supplements should be used with caution. The manufacture of these products is not regulated by any agency. The only real way to know if what is labeled on the bottle is really in the bottle is by an evaluation in an independent laboratory.
Sometimes herbal supplements contain products that are not on the label. They are included in the manufacturing process when they are not processed out. Some of these substances in Hoodia weight loss supplements can cause liver dysfunction and damage, which was the reason Pfizer backed out of the patent. These side effects presented too much of a liability to the pharmaceutical company who was weighing the cost of risk vs. benefit. To the average user the benefit is weight loss. However, the pharmaceutical company was weighing the potential cost of law suits and manufacturing process to reduce the risk of liver damage, against the financial benefit of the sale of the product.
Typical side effects of this supplement are not well documented since there have been no reliable studies using humans since it was introduced in North America.
Although Hoodia Gordonii has been shown through case studies to be effective in weight loss supplementation there have also not been enough studies to show the safety of using this supplement. The choice is always yours. (3)