How does hoodia work and what makes it so effective as a natural appetite suppressant? In order to answer these questions, we need to take a closer look at the plant itself.
The active ingredient in hoodia gordonii, P57, targets the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that tells you that you are hungry or full. Within the hypothalamus lie nerve cells which sense the level of sugar in your blood.
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When you eat, food is broken down in the body as glucose and the result is a natural rise in your blood sugar levels. As your blood sugar levels rise, those nerve cells in the hypothalamus begin to fire – sending a signal to the brain that you are full.
P57 is some 10,000 times more effective than glucose in triggering those nerve cells within the hypothalamus. Without eating anything, the prescence of P57 tricks the hypothalamus, and thus your brain, into believing it is full. The weight loss implications are obvious. If you feel full, you’ll likely eat less (consume fewer calories). Thus, you’ll lose weight. The simplicity of how hoodia works – and the fact that there are virtually no hoodia side effects – has had supplement manufacturers stumbling over themselves to get their products to the market since it was introduced on a mass scale in the early 2000′s.
While there has been a great deal of hype surrounding diet supplements containing hoodia, there has been very little attention on answering the question, does hoodia work? The reality is, there have been very few studies on the effectiveness of hoodia and supplements containing hoodia gordonii.
The first study was conducted in the 1990′s by UK pharmaceutical company, Phytopharm. They were given the patent to the active ingredient in hoodia gordonii, P57, by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in 1997.
The Phytopharm study was conducted using a group of 18 morbidly obese volunteer subjects. Half the volunteers were given an extract of the hoodia plant, and half were given a placebo. Volunteers didn’t know which group they were in, but were told to continue normal activities. The volunteers ate, read books, watched TV and slept.
The volunteers participated in the study for 15 days. Those who took hoodia gordonii ate 1,000 calories less per day than they had before. They made no other changes to their lifestyles, didn’t exercise, and none were even aware of the effect hoodia was having on them. They experienced natural appetite suppression without any effort on their part.
The study was very promising because by consuming 1,000 fewer calories per day, you could lose two pounds per week without ever being hungry or making any changes to your lifestyle (there are 3,500 calories to every pound of body fat).
Although the results of the study were positive, it has been criticized by experts because of the small sample size used and the fact that it did not undergo peer review (peer reviewed studies carry more scientific weight and greater credibility).
Despite the criticism, the study is often cited by supplement companies as “proof” that hoodia supplements work. Browse the Internet for hoodia diet supplements and you’ll see this study cited on many of their websites.
Consumer Reports also did a study on hoodia gordonii and they concluded that there was little evidence of the safety or effectiveness of hoodia as an effective weight loss remedy. Consumer Reports also noted that the unregulated nature of the supplement industry made it virtually impossible for the average consumer to determine whether a hoodia supplement actually contains any hoodia gordonii at all.
Recent tests on hoodia supplements have found that most of them contain very little or no hoodia gordonii at all! It is imperative for consumers to choose hoodia supplements that contain authentic hoodia gordonii. Most companies dilute their products with worthless fillers or worse yet, don’t use hoodia gordonii at all.
Even if you do take a supplement containing authentic hoodia doesn’t ensure that it will work. Some people report that hoodia supplements don’t suppress their appetite. Yet others report significant and effortless weight loss when taking them.
It may be the dose. Experts say you have to get at least 3 grams a day of hoodia for it to be effective. Those that say it doesn’t work for them may simply not be taking enough.