The garcinia cambogia fruit has been a focus for many people looking for natural ways to lose weight.
The small fruit, which resembles a cross between a pumpkin and a tomato, is native to India and Southeast Asia and is exported all over the world.
What is garcinia cambogia?
Finding out what garcinia cambogia is and how it works can help people understand whether the weight loss claims are true and whether the supplement will work.
It is also important to realize that there are some risks and interactions to be aware of when using garcinia cambogia.
Garcinia cambogia contains an ingredient called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been used to aid weight loss. The extract of HCA is available in powdered form or pill form and can be purchased online or in health stores.
Claims of garcinia cambogia
The use of garcinia cambogia and its extracts has been the subject of many health claims over the years. These claims range from mild to incredible, so it is important to separate fact from marketing when considering using supplements, such as this.
Garcinia cambogia is primarily marketed as a way to lose weight naturally with little to no additional effort. Some companies claim the supplement can help people lose weight without additional exercise or dieting.
It is true that the HCA in garcinia has been found to boost the fat-burning potential of the body.
One review posted to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that garcinia did promote weight loss in many cases. But results vary widely.
Some studies using HCA have produced amazing weight loss results, while others showed the supplement had little to no effect.
Researchers note that the majority of the studies done on garcinia or HCA used animal models. The little research that has been done on humans has found that the effects of the fruit are too widespread to call beneficial. It may work, and it may not.
A review posted to the Journal of Obesity compiled the results of nine different studies using garcinia for weight loss in humans. The findings confirmed mixed results of the supplement, with some studies producing significant results and others showing little difference.
The average reduction in body weight was small, as the studies were only done for short periods of time. A study posted to Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition pointed out how short most of the studies into garcinia cambogia were.
Studies in humans have been done on a small number of people for a short amount of time. Longer tests need to be carried out on bigger groups of people to understand the safety and effectiveness of garcinia or HCA fully.
Does diet matter?
Researchers looked at how a person’s diet affected the supplement, noting that it was not as effective in people whose diets were low in fat and high in carbohydrate.
Another study, posted to the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research found that taking garcinia cambogia extract along with a high-fat diet did reduce weight gain.
However, a high-fiber diet may also reduce how well HCA works in the body.
This research suggests that the garcinia and HCA depend upon a proper diet to be effective, which is the opposite of how it is marketed by manufacturers.
Curbs appetite and makes the body feel full
Another claim is that using garcinia or HCA can help the body feel full throughout the day. Reviews have found positive results in animal studies, but no human studies have found similar results.
The absence of studies on humans to prove these claims does not mean that garcinia does not work. Some people who have used the supplement maintain that it helps them feel full all day and supports their weight loss.
Garcinia cambogia is also marketed as a supplement that enhances athletic ability. Researchers found that both animal and human models provided some evidence for this claim.
Using garcinia or HCA may increase endurance levels during exercise and stop people feeling exhausted too quickly. Long-term studies need to be carried out to support these claims, however.
Older studies have supported the claims that garcinia may be useful for lowering cholesterol. Again, these claims are not proven, and the results of studies are inconsistent. As such, it is not advised to use garcinia to lower cholesterol.
Similarly, garcinia may be able to lower blood sugar levels in some people. Doctors do not recommend that those who have diabetes take garcinia cambogia, as it may affect their medication, and cause their blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels.
Risks of using garcinia cambogia
Garcinia cambogia is considered safe to eat, though there are some risks and considerations to keep in mind before using the fruit or its extract as a dietary supplement.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate supplements, such as garcinia cambogia, in the same way as pharmaceutical drugs, which must meet stringent safety standards. As a result, manufacturers of herbal supplements only need to make their products safe to eat and provide clear labels.
It is hard to determine how effective garcinia cambogia or HCA is because the supplement can vary in potency from brand to brand. Some manufacturers may also include other synergistic or filler ingredients into a blend, making it even harder to determine the proper dose.
Anyone choosing to take garcinia cambogia should be aware of the potential side effects.
Side effects of garcinia cambogia may include:
- skin rash
- common cold symptoms
- digestive upset
- lower blood sugar
Certain products containing garcinia cambogia and HCA have also been linked to liver damage. However, there is conflicting evidence on whether or not garcinia cambogia caused the liver damage that was observed.
As a rule, before taking any supplements, always talk to a doctor first.
Garcinia or HCA may interact with certain drugs.
Some research shows that the supplement lowers blood sugar, so it may affect people with diabetes. It is always best to consult a doctor before starting any new drug or supplement.
Anyone with prior liver or kidney damage may want to avoid garcinia.
Also, there have not been enough studies done to determine if garcinia is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As such, these women should avoid it.
How much garcinia cambogia should you take?
There is no standard dose when it comes to supplements.
A recent review posted to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine compiled the research on the toxicity of the garcinia cambogia supplement at various levels.
They concluded that no research had shown direct adverse effects in levels up to 2,800 milligrams each day.
The best dose to take will vary significantly from person to person, and people should always discuss their options with a doctor beforehand.