Hoodia gordonii is a succulent plant with pale purple flowers that grows in the arid regions of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Other names it goes by are hoodia, xhooba, !khoba, ghaap, hoodia cactus, South African desert cactus. There are over 13 different types of hoodia, including hoodia gordonii.
Hoodia is best known for its appetite suppressant qualities and it has been heavily marketed for weight loss in recent years. Historically, San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert consumed on hoodia to ward off hunger and thirst during long hunting trips.
Today, hoodia is available in pill and capsule form as well as in powder, liquid, and tea form. It is a component in many diet pills.
Hoodia Gordonii and Weight Loss
The only active ingredient found in hoodia gordonii so far is a steroidal glycoside called p57. This is what is believed to cause the appetite suppressant effects of hoodia gordonii.
It has been shown that p57 injected into the brains of rats causes altered levels of ATP, which is an energy molecule that may affect hunger. However, these trials are not generalizable to people since injected p57 is not the same as orally consumed hoodia and humans may not react in the same way as a rat model.
There are currently no published, peer-reviewed studies of the effects of hoodia gordonii on humans. While this plant may suppress appetite, we do not know the mechanism involved, and we do not know whether this can cause dangerous side effects.
Hoodia Safety Concerns
There is a lack of published studies on the safety of hoodia gordonii for humans. Despite being marketed to have no side effects, consumption of hoodia may actually cause liver damage. This damage is caused by components to the plant other than p57, however these components are not easily removed during processing.
Hoodia is likely to react with any other medications you may be taking, so consuming hoodia while taking other medications may cause any number of side effects.
Also, hoodia tricks the body into thinking it has enough blood sugar, this can be dangerous to diabetics, who will not show the warning signs of low blood-sugar while taking hoodia.
Since hoodia gordonii suppresses thirst as well as appetite, there is a danger of dehydration when taking hoodia.
Overall, if you want to lose weight it is best to stick with healthy eating and lots of exercise, and stay away from hoodia gordonii.