So let’s take a look at the fruit itself, the supplements, the scientific evidence, and of course the hype surrounding Garcinia Cambogia.
Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit that grows in Asia and is also known as Gumma Gutti, Brindleberry or Malabar Tamarind. The fruit grows on trees and looks similar to a pumpkin. The flavour is sour and it is sometimes used to introduce a sour flavour into curries.
Garcinia Cambogia would have remained completely unknown to consumers outside of Asia had it not become known as a weight loss ingredient.
What sets Garcinia Cambogia aside from other fruit is that it is rich in Hydroxycitric acid – a derivative of citric acid.
Although Hydroxycitric Acid is found in a variety of tropical plants including lemons, Garcinia Cambogia has the highest content of all fruits (as far as we know).
Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) has been researched for its effects upon the body’s metabolism and results suggest that it may have potential for reducing fat stores and helping weight loss.
HCA is said to block fat and suppress the appetite. It blocks fat by inhibiting an enzyme called Citrate Lyase that the body uses to make fat from carbohydrates. In addition, it is supposed to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Low serotonin is linked to depression and over eating so anything that increases the brain’s feel good chemical will help weight loss and improve mood.
All this sounds great, but the problem is that there has never been any real evidence to prove that it is true. The only research into HCA initially was carried out in the lab and via animal testing on Zucker rats which have a natural tendency to become obese.
Although results were promising, at the point when Garcinia Cambogia became massively popular it had not actually been tested out on humans.
The rise of Garcinia Cambogia can be blamed unequivocally on celebrity TV doctor Dr Oz. In 2012 Garcinia Cambogia came to his attention and he featured it on his show.
If you have not heard of of US TV health guru Dr Oz (he is a real qualified doctor – a qualified cardiothoracic surgeon) he has become the “go to” authority on health and weight loss in America. His show is watched by millions across the USA; his opinions on weight loss and ways of combating obesity are listened to by the American public.
Dr Oz saw the claims for HCA and results of the animal testing and completely ignored the fact that it had not been proven or tested on humans. Instead he asserted that Garcinia Cambogia was a breakthrough in weight loss. He called Garcinia Cambogia pills “magic”, the “holy grail of weight loss “and a “revolutionary fat burner.”
He said that Garcinia Cambogia would help people lose weight without dieting or exercise. He even told his viewers to write down the name Garcinia Cambogia so they would not forget the name at the end of the program. Millions followed his advice and Dr Oz’s endorsement of Garcinia Cambogia caused a stampede of people trying to get their hands on this so called revolutionary ingredient.
It led to an explosion of the numbers of Garcinia Cambogia supplements suddenly hitting the market. Overnight it seemed that there were thousands of supplement companies all selling Garcinia Cambogia supplements. Many adverts used clips of the TV show where Oz made his claims. Many Garcinia supplements claimed to be endorsed by the doctor.
Dr Oz was publicly ticked off by the US Senate in 2014 about his claims, following a Government crack down on fake diet products. He was accused of being the power behind numerous scam supplements because of his way of describing unknown unproven weight loss ingredients in powerful persuasive language.
According to state senator Claire McCaskill speaking at the time,
When you feature a product on your show it creates what has become known as the ‘Dr. Oz Effect’ — dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight using false and deceptive ads to sell questionable products.
Dr Oz defended his position saying that he needed to be “passionate” in order to engage his audience and that he personally believed in the products he touted. Even though he agreed that there was no real scientific evidence.
Although he also agreed to tone down his approach in the future, the genie was already out of the box when it came to Garcinia Cambogia.
Garcinia Cambogia has since become a well known name in supplements. There are so many products out there that consumers no longer even question that this ingredient may not work or has just been hyped without any real evidence. Most of us just accept that Garcinia Cambogia is going to work – why else would there be so many supplements containing this ingredient?
That said, not all Garcinia Cambogia supplements are scam products although there are still plenty of opportunist supplements on the market.
Inperform Garcinia is an example of a questionable Garcinia supplement still jumping on the Dr Oz bandwagon.
This supplement has a great instagram page full of fake reviews but many Watchdog readers sent money and did not receive their supplements leaving them seriously out of pocket and ripped off.
A more reputable supplement is Diet Works Garcinia Cambogia, which is available from major stores such as Costco. This supplement contains a branded Garcinia formula called Super Citrimax which has undergone some clinical testing and although this testing has been criticised by the Journal of Obesity, when it comes to the evidence for Garcinia Cambogia, this is about as good as it gets.
Many Watchdog readers have tried this supplement and have found that it has helped weight loss so it may be a good choice. In addition you can buy this one in the shops so there is no danger of being ripped off.
We actually approved one Garcinia Cambogia supplement. Garcinia Cambogia Extra is a reputable looking supplement with a good guarantee. Although the evidence is not proven for this ingredient, we thought that this would be a good choice if you wanted to try this hyped ingredient out for yourself.
Although Garcinia Cambogia looks relatively safe, it is important to remember that different substances affect different people in different ways. Garcinia Cambogia can cause side effects and long term safety is unknown. However, it seems ok for most people for up to 12 weeks.
Potential side effects may include:
You should discontinue use if you experience these or any other side effects.
A few years have passed since Garcinia Cambogia first came onto the scene, but there is still no real evidence that it will help weight loss when used by humans.
An overview of all the research into Garcinia Cambogia was published by the Journal of Obesity who found that most of the clinical studies had methodological weaknesses. For example, SuperCitrimax – a branded Garcinia extract – underwent eight clinical tests which yielded positive results, but was criticised because the tests were not impartial, but carried out by the manufacturer Inter Health who needed to prove their product.
However, the conclusion based on all the evidence was that Garcinia extracts/HCA do cause some short term weight loss when used by humans. The downside is that the size of the effect is extremely minimal.
According to the Journal of Obesity, Garcinia Cambogia requires further clinical testing with “future trials more rigorous, longer in duration, and better reported.”
The research only goes to prove what we knew already and that is that Garcinia may work but is unlikely to work very well. It may support minor weight loss and it may help you believe – the placebo effect should not be underestimated – but the bottom line is that Garcinia Cambogia is not the miracle product or “holy grail of weight loss” that it is cracked up to be.