In the backdrop of alarming rise in the incidence of obesity and ‘life-style’ diseases, weight reduction has assumed paramount importance – for the individual and society as a whole. If you are one of those who have decided to do something about your weight problem, you can choose from a plethora of fat-loss agents now available on the market. Garcinia cambogia is one such fat-loss supplement.
Obesity is now considered a disease and has assumed epidemic proportions (Kim et al., 2011). It has become a major public health concern; governments are spending billions of dollars worth of money to deal with the ill-effects of obesity.
Obesity increases your morbidity (likely-hood to suffer from diseases). Hell, it even increases your chances of early death (Kopelman, 2000; Calle, Thun, Petrelli, Rodriguez, & Heath, Jr., 1999)! It has been shown to cause diabetes, hypertension and other graver cardiovascular diseases.
Weight loss on the other hand, even of a moderate degree, improves quality of life, decreases blood cholesterol levels and reduces chances of you getting cardiovascular disease (Grundy et al., 2004).
In this day and age, therefore, maintaining body-weight within normal range has assumed paramount importance – not only for the individual but society as a whole. Although a number of alternatives are available for inducing weight-loss – surgery, drug therapy, food therapy, physical activity and fat-loss supplements – a combination of physical activity and fat-loss supplements seems to work the best.
Although most manufacturers make tall claims about their ‘fat-loss products’, it is always better to get some research under your belt before you commit to buying a bottle of fat-loss pills.
Garcinia cambogia is one such ‘fat-loss agent’. Discovered in the 1960s, Garcinia cambogia has found its way into weight-loss supplements. Dr Oz has ‘confirmed’ live on Oprah that it is effective and ‘has staked his reputation on Garcinia as an effective, healthy aid to weight loss’. However, you do need to be sure before you use your hard-earned dough to buy it, don’t you?
So, does it really work? What does science have to say about it? Let us investigate!
Garcinia cambogia is a sub-tropical plant native to South-east Asia, India and Africa. Known by several names – Gambooge, Brindelberry, Brindall berry, Assam Fruit or Malabar Tamarind – Garcinia cambogia, either alone or in combination with other supplements has recently been making news as a amazing weight-loss agent (Roongpisuthipong, Kantawan, & Roongpisuthipong, 2007; Downs et al., 2005). It is being promoted by manufacturers and marketers as a weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering agent. Owing to these alleged health benefits, some have even gone the extent of calling it ‘the magical plant’.
Although a series of bioactive ingredients are present in Garcinia cambogia, the most important one for weight-loss seems to be Hydroxycitric-acid (HCA). As you may very well guess from its name, HCA is derived from citric acid and is also present in other species like Garcinia indica and Garcinia atroviridis (Roongpisuthipong et al., 2007).
The weight-loss ability of Garcinia cambogia seems to correlate well with the amount of HCA present in the product – anything above 50% is considered good enough.
Garcinia cambogia allegedly uses several mechanisms to cause weight-loss:
In short, Garcinia cambogia causes weight-loss using the following mechanisms:
In a nutshell, Garcinia cambogia:
Instructions on how to take Garcinia cambogia are usually given on every single bottle. However, there is no scientific basis for the dosage regimen.
As far as side-effects go, Garcinia cambogia is probably safe for use – if in any doubt, consult your doctor before you start taking the supplement. However, it is best to avoid it in pregnancy or if you are a breast-feeding mum.
Most scientific studies involving Garcinia cambogia and its apparent weight reducing properties are animal-based (Leonhardt, Hrupka, & Langhans, 2001; Downs et al., 2005). The results, as such, cannot be extrapolated verbatim to humans. In less elegant terms – what works for rats and guinea pigs might not work for us humans!
Although Garcinia cambogia is called ‘the magical plant’ by its promoters – (who claim that it causes weight-loss and lowers cholesterol levels in your bloodstream) scientific evidence in support is lacking. At best, researchers have opined that it MAY have the potential to be a weight-loss agent, but they can’t say for sure (Pittler & Ernst, 2004).
A meta-analysis (a study where they draw conclusion by collecting evidence from numerous scientific studies) conducted in 2010 suggested that while Garcinia cambogia may induce short-term weight-loss, it is of little clinical significance. And, there isn’t enough evidence to go by to label it a weight-loss agent in the strictest sense of the term (Badimon, Vilahur, & Padro, 2010). Further research needs to be conducted in larger number of human volunteers to get to the bottom of the affair, the researchers suggested. A similar meta-analysis conducted the following year concluded that Garcinia cambogia was not as effective as other weight reducing agents like Orlistat (Rucker, Padwal, Li, Curioni, & Lau, 2007; Onakpoya, Hung, Perry, Wider, & Ernst, 2011). This is what the authors of this study had to say – ‘Garcinia extracts/ HCA generate weight loss on the short term. However, the magnitude of this effect is small, is no longer statistically significant’ (Onakpoya et al., 2011).
Another large study with rigorous controls conducted by the WHO ‘found no significant difference in weight-loss between Garcinia cambogia and placebo supplementation’ (WHO Expert Consultation, 2004).
Even the other alleged health benefits of Garcinia cambogia – lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood – are more apparent in animal studies than studies carried out in human beings (Kim et al., 2011; Amin et al., 2011).
Although there does seem to be anecdotal evidence of health benefits of Garcinia cambogia, it cannot be said for sure if it indeed causes weight-loss.
To conclude – celebrity and manufacturers’ claims notwithstanding – we reserve our judgement on this one. In our book, the proof of Garcinia cambogia being an effective weight-loss supplement remains inconclusive until such time that some concrete evidence is unearthed.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.