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Hoodia

What is hoodia?

Hoodia is a succulent plant that looks like a cactus. A member of the milkweed family, hoodia is native to the Kalahari desert in the southern tip of Africa, principally in the nations of South Africa and Namibia. The plant's latex and inner parts are used, with the spines removed.

What are the historical uses of hoodia?

The San people, native to the Kalahari desert, have used hoodia for millennia to suppress appetite for food and water and to increase energy.1They cut the spines off the plant and eat the inner portion and drink the white latex.

What does the science show about hoodia?

A South African government agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), found that a compound found only in hoodia’s latex and inner flesh, steroidal glycoside (called P57), was able to suppress appetite in animals. This effect was clearly related to effects in the brain as opposed to the stomach.2One small clinical study has been completed by Phytopharm, a company that bought the exclusive licenses to develop and market P57 from CSIR. This study involved 19 overweight men using P57 and found that P57 did reduce their food intake significantly compared with a placebo. The details of this study have not yet been published in any medical journal, so its conclusions cannot yet be evaluated for accuracy.

How much hoodia is usually taken?

There is no clear information on how much hoodia is necessary to reduce appetite. Anecdotal reports suggest that 2 ounces (60 grams) or more per day of the crude plant may be necessary.

Hoodia is a slow-growing plant that thrives in a relatively limited geographical area.Given the potential for becoming endangered due to high demand, there are strong regulations in place (based on the international treaty called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) blocking its export. The Phytopharm company says they have a plantation to sustainably grow hoodia for the product they intend to release someday, but this product is not yet available.

Are there any interactions with hoodia?

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with hoodia.

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Copyright © 2008 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com
This article was reproduced with permission from HealthNotes.com

References:

1. Thompson G. Bushmen squeeze money from a humble cactus. New York Times 2003 Apr 1;Sect. A:4 (col 3).
2. MacLean DB, Luo LG. Increased ATP content/production in the hypothalamus may be a signal for energy-sensing of satiety: Studies of the anorectic mechanism of a plant steroidal glycoside. Brain Res 2004;1020:1–11.

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