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The Benefits and Side Effects of Hoodia Gordonii

Updated on July 05, 2011

The Hype on Hoodia

The U.S. ban on ephedra left a void in the diet pill industry, leaving the country ripe for a new supplement craze. Jumping in to fill the vacuum, hoodia gordonii hit the market with a vengeance, claiming miraculous appetite suppressant powers with zero side effects.

The pills and patches sold in the western world became vastly popular very quickly, based on stories of bushmen in the Kalahari desert who would cut open the hoodia plant and chew on the bitter inside of the stem to ward off hunger and thirst during long hunting trips.

These days, hoodia is sold in the form of capsules, powder, and trans-dermal patches, and has been added to the formula of several already-established weight loss supplement brands.

The hoodia gordonii cactus takes up to five years to bloom and be ready for harvesting.
The hoodia gordonii cactus takes up to five years to bloom and be ready for harvesting.

The Nitty-Gritty on Gordonii

There are over a dozen types of hoodia, and only one, hoodia gordonii, contains the active ingredient (called p57) believed to function in the suppression of appetite. There have been no randomized controlled studies of the effects of hoodia gordonii on humans, only anecdotal evidence, such as the testimony of 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl that, after chewing a piece of the cactus-like succulent given her by a local bushman in Africa, she lost the desire to eat or drink for the rest of the day.

In 1963, South Africa's national laboratory claimed to have done a trial that animals given hoodia gordonii had lost weight, and in 2004, a study published in the September issue of Brain Researchfound that injections of p57 into the appetite center of rat brains resulted in altered levels of ATP, an energy molecule that may affect hunger. However, these two tests speak nothing to the applicability to human consumption or the safety of a daily hoodia supplement.

The Safety of Supplements

There are a number of concerns for consumers interested in taking a hoodia regimen for weight loss. First of all, the Food and Drug Administration has no regulatory power over the claims made by or ingredients in so-called "diet supplements." Currently, this results in effective zero accountability for the manufacturers of such products, and almost no liability in the event of unwanted side effects.

Mike Adams of News Targetestimates that at least 80% of the hoodia being marketed to your Average Jill today is counterfeit, and there is still no reliable way of telling whether or not what you buy is genuine hoodia. In addition, large numbers of the hoodia products readily available are derived from types other than gordonii, rendering them useless in the pursuit of weight loss.

Since there are no published studies on safe use in humans, we actually have no idea whether or not hoodia gordonii has any undesirable long-term effects on the body. There has been at least one rumor circulated about people on a hoodia regimen dying of dehydration, having lost the desire to drink water. One former scientist at Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that purchased the developing rights to hoodia in 1998, testifies that although the $21 million dollars of research did turn up some evidence of effective appetite suppression, it also indicated that there was unwanted, potentially serious damage to the liver from regular use. No tests have been done on drug interactions or use in people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, or mental illness.

All said and done, hoodia gordonii is an unproven weight loss aid, and an unnecessary risk to a person's health. Others might call it a "buyer beware" purchase, but my advice is: "Buyer, bypass!"

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    • profile image

      Tara 5 years ago

      Just bought some Hoodia from Hoodobadiet.com, and now I am scared to take it, being a friend of mine said it causes problems to the Kidneys and Liver. Also, I take other medications for HBP, Cholesterol, and a diuretic.

      The Hoodia I have has 750mg of Hoodia powder in them - from the succulent part of the plant, which is the Gordoni Hoodia - the most effective part. I cut the capsule in half and poured 1/2 of the powder on a spoon, and it is a lot of powder in just half of the capsule.

      I think the kidney problems could come along with dehydration from the powder making you not thirsty - therfore you do not drink water; and now you created problems on your kidneys. In retrospect, I don't think the Hoodia itself causes Kidney problems, just the fact that people do not drink enough water while on it.

      Another note to pay attention to: FDA does not monitor or do tests on many herbal/diet supplements; so the FDA saying yada yada yada in regards to anything that helps in aiding weightloss isn't safe; whe MOST of the drugs the FDA approves of, are killing more people than the stuff they do not monitor or promote! Go-figure!

      Like someone stated above, the FDA, Pharmaceutical companies etc, are in this to make money; the more fat people, HBP, diabetes cases they have...the better for their pockets. Do you think the FDA would really tell you that there are products out there that really work? Hell NO! If people lose weight, cure their HBP and diabetes - then guess what...the FDA, Doctors, etc, would be out of business.

      This isn't a conspiracy folks, this is the truth! I think Hoodia may indeed be the real thing, but you have so many reports out there saying it can cause this and that, making folks scared to take it. How many have you ever known died from eating or consuming a PLANT!

    • profile image

      fashion 5 years ago

      Great article.Thanks for the useful information.

    • newmember profile image

      newmember 5 years ago

      Wow I never know this plant would takes up to five years to bloom and be ready for harvesting! I think it's risky to suppress our appetite, especially when someone says they can forget to eat for two days

    • profile image

      Web design Dan 5 years ago

      I have been taking it for two weeks and it really is working for me. On a strict diet and not feeling hungry at all. However knowing that there are so many fakes out there I went to a large well known high street retailer and bought from them, it was expensive but I am sure Holland and Barret where I bought from must sell the genuine article.

    • cloudhardy profile image

      cloudhardy 6 years ago from United State

      Good Hub!!!!

      As the U.S. ban on ephedra left a void in the diet pill industry, leaving the country ripe for a new supplement craze. As mentioned in the hub, so long we actually have no idea whether or not hoodia gordonii has any undesirable long-term effects on the body. In this way, the whole is immeasurably fruitful in its every aspect. Thanks for sharing an informative as well as useful hub.

    • profile image

      Ryan Wescott 6 years ago

      Anything 100% natural and organic is great in my book! I still believe one must still exercise to get the full effect of a weight loss product. There are so many different hoodia products it gets pretty confusing. A lot of rip offs just add fillers and additives which in return produce side effects and basically are not as effective. If one should purchase hoodia make sure it is 100% hoodia gordonii and nothing added! Great post and I agree everything should be a buyer beware!

    • profile image

      Weight Loss Tipster 6 years ago

      Hoodia is believed to suppress not only appetite but thirst. There have been unconfirmed reports of shepherds in Africa who took hoodia to take the edge off hunger pains, but died of dehydration because they didn't feel thirsty.

    • kazeemjames01 profile image

      kazeemjames01 6 years ago

      Great article. Highly educative.

    • DetoxDude profile image

      DetoxDude 6 years ago from USA

      I remember watching a UK TV program about how they came to buy the intellectual property off the tribes people who used Hoodia. It was really interesting, however it did seem that the pharmaceutical company tried to shaft them somewhat. So its interesting to see that it never really materialized into a product they could properly confirm worked. Karma perhaps?

    • Friend of Friends profile image

      Friend of Friends 6 years ago

      We said, at least some one writing clearly about hoodia gordonii. I love the word "Buyer BYPASS".

      Thanks

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Hoodia helps you to eat less without feeling the hunger pains and discomfort that causes you to snack.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 6 years ago

      Didn't realize that about Hoodia, thanks

    • profile image

      Alison 7 years ago

      I think a lot of the people who criticize diet pills are afraid that maybe people might actually lose the weight that society has influenced us into gaining. As a result of the weight loss, people would be healthier and in return, have a lower demand for medical care. This would lead to a loss of profits for the the already too wealthy doctors and such. Has anyone ever thought that the reason we are all fat is because society has brainwashed us into unhealthy habits, so the big corporations, doctors among many others will profit and enjoy their new Mercedes and five bedroom houses, while the rest of us die young due to diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases related to being fat?

      Just a thought...

    • Ineedpampering profile image

      Ineedpampering 7 years ago from Manchester

      Ive always been under the impression that Hoodia, whilst good for you was a very rare commodity. Clinical tests have shown that numerous brands (especially over the web) contain little of no Hoodia.

    • profile image

      123 7 years ago

      guys it creates some problems in urine

    • profile image

      Megan Smith 7 years ago

      I started to take Hoodia only a week ago and found that on the first morning i took same i had bad cramps in the afternoon. These subsided and i continued to take the herb. On Saturday night the cramps returned and i passed a lot of blood in my urine. This frightened me to death and since coming off the herb completely my urine remains clear. There are side effects with this herb so please be careful, i certainly wont be taking it again.

    • profile image

      andafter? 7 years ago

      Hey, I've been using Hoodia for a short time and it curbs my appetite, but I don't take the full dose every day, because it works so well that I don't want to eat at all and I don't think that's healthy. But I was wondering about the after effects. Does using Hoodia put the body into "starvation mode" when you come off it? I mean due to the lack off food does the body then, when finished Hoodia, store fat quickly to make up for lack of it as many diets, like no carb diets, lead to? I don't want to fully go on it if after I will just gain it again. I'd rather choose a slower method.

    • culinarycaveman profile image

      culinarycaveman 7 years ago from Dem Woods, Sussex, England

      Good hub.

      People need to know.

      Your average couch potato is about as far removed from your average San Bushmen as a Trabant is to a Ferrari in terms of engineering et al. We all have the same potential but culture has taken us down different paths.

      People need to be aware of why they have put the weight on in the first place and exercise will be a key factor as well as diet.

    • profile image

      KitTheKat 7 years ago

      Great information about the hoodia, I have wanted to try it for ages but have always doubted that it actually works and didn't want to spend so much money on something that might not even show results. I might give it a go now, and will definitely spend some time checking out that it is the real deal and that im not being scammed.

    • itcoll profile image

      itcoll 7 years ago

      excellent information about the hoodia.

    • profile image

      bestcellphones 7 years ago

      very informative, thx a lot

    • Cameron Dinsdale profile image

      Cameron Dinsdale 7 years ago

      It really can suppress your appetite if you dose it correctly, very powerful stuff.

    • profile image

      Matt 7 years ago

      Nice hub. Genuine Hoodia products are certified by CITES or Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.

      Moreover, genuine Hoodia is far more expensive than most of the products being sold online almost 80% of which are fake.

    • healthgoji profile image

      healthgoji 7 years ago

      Excellent article - this hub is along the same lines of what I had read - especially that at least 80% of all Hoodia was junk

    • John foster profile image

      John foster 7 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Maddie,

      Great hub again. Well done.

      I wish to point out again to would be consumers, that you must exercise care in the purchase of hoodia products or else you will end up at the backend of a scam product. Only purchase from a reputable dealer. More information on the best brands of pure hoodia can be found at www.buyinghoodia.com

      All the best and looking forward to many more great hubs from you.

    • HealthHelps profile image

      HealthHelps 7 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I too have read that much of the Hoodia being sold is counterfeit, and that the reason for this is that they are unable to grow enough to meet the demand for the product. I still may try it, so just wanted to say thanks to the folks who list the reputable sources.

    • profile image

      Suritine 8 years ago

      Hi, I came here looking for more information on side effects of the Hoodia patch but can find nobody who has had the scary same side effect I had. I used the patch only two days; my appetite was suppressed and I felt I had more energy. But I also began to leak urine. This shocked me so much that I stopped using the patch entirely. That was almost a month ago, and my bladder continues to leak urine. Since that could be the sign of a urinary tract infection, I got tested at the hospital. I have no infection and there is nothing wrong with me. So I am wondering, did Hoodia do this? I wanted to come out and post this just in case others are exhibiting the same symptoms, or this post can stop another dieter from using the patch and then being incontinent of urine for ... for however long I will have this condition. Thanks.

    • affiliater profile image

      Shankar Pandiath 8 years ago from India

      thanks - helpful info.... am in the process of trying it out and writing a report on it as well - hope to publish the info within a week - so far it hasn't shown any of its magical properties. However, I had also done a colon cleanse, which seemed much better than the gordoni bit, as it makes you better equipped for the weight loss process with gordnii..

    • bigdaddy profile image

      bigdaddy 8 years ago from Palm Beach Gardens

      I have lost 40 pounds this year. I contribute a large part of this to Hoodia. I will only recommend Desert Burn because that is what I took. They are one of the first companies to start exporting Hoodia before it became famous. It is the real deal. I did not experience any bad side effects. Since it has not been tested, I weaned myself off of it after using it for about 5 months. Once I developed the habit of eating very small meals and not snacking all the time, I didn't require it any more. It does curb your appetite, but make sure of what you are buying.

    • profile image

      Debbie 8 years ago

      I am morbidly obese and surely this in itself is a great risk to my health. I have been taking hoodia for 2 weeks now and yes, it does indeed make you forget to eat but you do drink a lot more because it seems to increase your thirst. I am making myself eat a healthy meal once a day and so far I have lost 7lbs which I consider to be a healthy loss. I have also found that my energy levels have increased so I am taking more exercise which again has got to be better for me. After battling with my weight for many years, surely this has got to be a better option than to go for a very dangerous and expensive surgical procedure?

    • flread45 profile image

      Frank 8 years ago from Montana

      Every time I chew on a cactus plant I end up craving more water.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I once wrote about Hoodia in Tenerife News but nowhere near as good or detailed report as this!

    • The Phantom Blot profile image

      The Phantom Blot 9 years ago

      I'm in agreement, buyer beware. Let's see some recent research and regulation, then I'll look at it.

    • profile image

      queen 9 years ago

      I forgot to add, there are only a few reputable companies that sell hoodia with all of the correct licensure..I have always got mine from desertburn.com.

    • profile image

      queen 9 years ago

      Hello Maddie, good work on your reporting, but I must correct you on something...hoodia has been growing in the aboriginal desert for hundreds of years..I have personally taken it...and yes..I did forget to eat but the only side effect that I had was that I was THIRSTY all of the time. IT REALLY DOES WORK..IT TELLS THE BRAIN THAT YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY..I FORGOT TO EAT FOR TWO DAYS STRAIGHT..I MEAN LITERALLY FORGOT, I WAS SO BUSY WITH MY JOBS. Hoodia is safe and has no side effects except it made me terribly thirsty for water all of the time which is a good thing. Hoodia is a natural remedy that God created.

    • profile image

      Nancy 9 years ago

      Thanks for the useful information

    • profile image

      Tracy@PrimeHerbal 9 years ago

      Thanks for the info ...I always prefer natural remedies..

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Rhys 9 years ago

      Have you tried using Prosit while on Hoodia, Prosit helps the body and blood while you are trying to lose weight. I want to get feedback from others out there who have used both African products at once.

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