Hoodia gordonii

November 12, 2012

Hoodia gordonii

Hoodia gordonii is a weight loss dietary supplement derived from a cactus like succulent plant native to South Africa. The herb is known to have been used by South Africans as an appetite suppressant and research seems to indicate that a chemical compound derived from the herb decreases the amount of food ingested by lab rats. There is no current human research of any note but, there are a number of potential health risks associated with hoodia gordonii.

Characteristics of hoodia gordonii

  • Hoodia gordonii is similar in appearance to a cactus but is, in fact, a succulent

  • It is an entirely natural product but much research is being undertaken to try and discover and isolate the appetite suppressing qualities in order to create a diet drug that will be effective in the fight against obesity.

  • There are several varieties of hoodia – only the gordonii has the desired appetite suppressant qualities.

  • Hoodia gordonii creates an artificial feeling of fullness; effects may be felt immediately or may take several weeks to develop.

  • Other key results that have been reported include a reduction in interest in food, a general overall feeling of well being and a longer period of time before hunger is noticed again.

  • The supplement is not a stimulant, has no known side effects and appears to be safe for most people.

  • Many people have found that taking hoodia gordonii helps in weight loss programs.

Regulation

Investigations have shown that many commercial weight loss products which list hoodia gordonii as an active ingredient actually contain very little of the product. The plant grows very slowly and enjoys international protection to prevent excess harvesting and production, this means, however, that supplies are limited.

Herbal supplements are not regulated in the same way as medicinal drugs and some have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins.

Not suitable for diabetics

Diabetics should not begin taking any dietary supplement without first seeking the advice of their medical practitioner. Diabetic medications such as insulin or metformin are intended to regulate blood sugar levels – going without food for a long period of time may induce hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, may cause extreme fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating and shaking. In extreme cases it may also cause confusion, fainting, seizures and even coma.

Interactions with other medications

Scientists believe that hoodia is metabolized in the liver – this means that it may affect the role of other medications or cause alterations to levels of the medication in the bloodstream. Anyone who is taking any medications should discuss the use of hoodia with their medical practitioner.

Pregnancy considerations

Pregnant women are not usually advised to worry about dieting and weight loss for the duration of their pregnancy but rather to follow a healthy, well balanced diet which includes a wide variety of foods from each food group and to take part in regular, moderate exercise. The use of an appetite suppressant such as that contained in hoodia may prevent a pregnant woman consuming all the required nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. No research has been conducted into the effects of hoodia when taken by pregnant women and it is therefore probably not advisable to take this supplement.

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