Information About Hoodia Diet Pills
What is Hoodia Gordonii?
Latin Name: Hoodia gordonii
Other Names: hoodia, xhooba, !khoba, Ghaap, hoodia cactus, South African desert cactus
Hoodia (pronounced HOO-dee-ah) is a cactus-like plant that grows primarily in the semi-deserts of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.
In the last few years, hoodia has been heavily marketed for weight loss and has become immensely popular.
Although there has always been a demand for diet pills, after the ban on the herb ephedra, the market was particularly ripe for the next new diet pill.
Much of hoodia's popularity stems from claims that the San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert relied on hoodia for thousands of years to ward off hunger and thirst during long hunting trips.
They were said to have cut off the stem and eat the bitter-tasting plant.
Hoodia gordonii grows in clumps of green upright stems. Although it is often called a cactus because it resembles one, hoodia is actually a succulent plant.
It takes about five years before hoodia gordonii's pale purple flowers appear and the plant can be harvested.
There are over 13 types of hoodia. The only active ingredient identified so far is a steroidal glycoside that has been called "p57". Currently, only hoodia gordonii is thought to contain p57.
What is the History of Hoodia Gordonii?
In 1937, a Dutch anthropologist studying the San Bushmen noted their use of hoodia gordonii to suppress appetite. In 1963, scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa's national laboratory, began studying hoodia. They claimed that lab animals lost weight after they were given hoodia gordonii.
The South African scientists, working with a British company named Phytopharm, isolated what they believed to be an active ingredient in hoodia gordonii, a steroidal glycoside, which they named p57. After obtaining a patent in 1995, they licensed p57 to Phytopharm. Phytopharm has spent more than $20 million on hoodia research.
Eventually pharmaceutical giant Pfizer learned about hoodia and expressed interest in developing a hoodia drug. In 1998, Phytopharm sub-licensed the rights to develop p57 to Pfizer for $21 million. Pfizer returned the rights to hoodia to Phytopharm, who is now working with Unilever.
Much of the hype about hoodia started after 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl and crew traveled to Africa to try hoodia. They hired a local Bushman to go with them into the desert and track down some hoodia. Stahl ate it, describing it as "cucumbery in texture, but not bad." She reported that she lost the desire to eat or drink the entire day. She also said she didn't experience any immediate side effects, such as indigestion or heart palpitations.
Where is Hoodia Gordonii Found?
Hoodia gordonii is sold in capsule, powder, liquid, or tea form in health food stores and on the Internet.
How Does Hoodia Gordonii Work?
Despite its popularity, there are no published randomized controlled trials in humans to show hoodia is safe or effective in pill form.
One study published in the September 2004 issue of Brain Research found that injections of p57 into the appetite center of rat brains resulted in altered levels of ATP, an energy molecule that may affect hunger. The animals receiving the P57 injections also ate less than rats that received placebo injections. However, this was an animal study and injections in the brain are different from oral consumption, so it cannot be used to show that oral hoodia can suppress appetite in humans.
The manufacturer Phytopharm cites a clinical trial involving 18 human volunteers that found hoodia consumption reduced food intake by about 1000 calories per day compared to a placebo group. Although intriguing, the study wasn't published or subjected to a peer-review process, so the quality of the study cannot be evaluated.
What are the Side Effects of Hoodia?
There have not been any side effects reported from eating Hoodia or from taking the P-57 molecule. Remember, for thousands of years that Bushmen have eaten Hoodia Gordonii plants with no ill side effects.
How do I Know if it's Pure Hoodia?
There are widespread reports of counterfeit hoodia products. Mike Adams of News Target, estimates that 80 percent of hoodia products are contaminated or counterfeit. It is impossible to know if a hoodia product contains pure hoodia and the active ingredient, unless it has been tested by an independent laboratory.
We have tested the leading Hoodia Brands and have selected three products that we feel offer the safest, most effective weight loss on the market today.