Hoodia gordonii is a prickly succulent plant that grows in southern Africa. Generations of San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have used Hoodia to suppress their appetites during long hunting journeys. The people of the Kalahari also used Hoodia for treating indigestion and minor infections. Extracts made from Hoodia appear to make people feel full and lower body weight without toxicity.
A chemical compound called P57 is thought to be the active ingredient in Hoodia gordonii. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa, holds the patent to P57. The South African government licensed the patent to the British pharmaceutical company Phytopharm, which has spent over $20 million dollars on research. CSIR has a revenue sharing agreement with the San people to share any profits from sales of P57.
Scientists from Phytopharm say that P57 sends a message to the brain that the body is full, thereby decreasing the desire to eat. Hoodia gordonii reduces appetite; it does not act as a fat burner, as some manufacturers claim.
Manufacturers make slimming capsules, powders, and chewable tablets from dried extracts of Hoodia stems and roots. Hoodia is also an ingredient in liquid extracts, smoothies, and teas. Hoodia products often contain other herbs or minerals, such as green tea. Products currently on the market contain varying amounts of Hoodia, some with only miniscule amounts.
Because of the recent popularity of Hoodia gordonii as an appetite suppressant and weight loss aid, the plants are threatened by over-harvesting. The governments of some of the African countries where Hoodia grows wild have taken steps to protect the plants. As a result of the limited availability of true Hoodia, some companies are making claims for extracts that do not contain P57. Because Hoodia products are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing how much, if any, of the active ingredient of Hoodia gordonii is contained in various products.
Researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not adequately studied the potential risks of taking Hoodia, its side effects, or its interactions with medications. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it works, but the effects on the body's organs and systems have not been thoroughly researched. Hoodia may be completely safe, but without conclusive research, no one really knows for sure.
Pure Hoodia gordonii
Before they make a purchase, consumers who wish to try Hoodia should make sure the product does not contain stimulants such as ephedrine (now banned in many countries) or other harmful ingredients. While there are 20 or so species of Hoodia, only Hoodia gordonii is known to have P57. Check to make sure you are buying Hoodia gordonii, which is the only species known to suppress appetite. As with any weight loss aid or nutritional supplements, ask questions to verify the quality and purity of the product.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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