Page updated Feb 18, 2019.
First published Jun 24, 2013.
A plethora of fat-loss supplements are sold on the market today. Irvingia gabonensis extract (African Mango Extract) is one such fat-loss agent that’s being doing the rounds in recent years. Initial reports about fat-loss induced by Irvingia gabonensis are promising. Furthermore, it has an impressive health benefits profile as well.
Irvingia gabonensis causes fat loss by blocking deposition of new fat, absorption of sugars and by acting as a laxative. Also, it reduces blood pressure, blood cholesterol and the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart ailments. Scientific evidence seems to suggest that Irvingia gabonensis does indeed cause fat loss and is quite safe to consume.
Irvingia gabonensis extract is one such fat-loss agent that being doing the rounds in recent years. Initial reports about fat-loss induced by Irvingia gabonensis are promising. Furthermore, it has an impressive health benefits profile as well.
Here’s what we found out when we decided to dig deeper into what Irvingia gabonensis really was and how, if at all, it caused fat loss.
What is Irvingia Gabonensis?
The Irvingia gabonensis plant is native to West Africa (Ngondi, Oben, & Minka, 2005); the fruit of this plant is not very different from a mango. Also known as the African Mango, Bush Mango, Wild Mango, Dika Nut or Ogbono, this fleshy fruit finds use in traditional Nigerian and Cameroonian dishes.
The extract derived from the seeds of this fruit – called the Irvingia gabonensis extract – is being touted as the next big thing is fat-loss industry. It apparently causes fat loss and has other miraculous health benefits. So, how much of it is hearsay and what really is the truth? Well, let’s find out.
How Does Irvingia Gabonensis Work Its Magic?
Irvingia gabonensis is packed with bioactive agents and anti-oxidants. To date, the active principle of Irvingia gabonensis has not been identified. However, it is suspected that the bioactive agents, antioxidants like vitamin C or polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate may be responsible for the fat loss caused by Irvingia gabonensis extract (Ngondi, Etoundi, Nyangono, Mbofung, & Oben, 2009).
The following mechanisms for fat loss have been proposed:
- Inhibition of adipogenesis (the laying down of new fat) – Mature fat cells are responsible for storing fat within them. Irvingia gabonensis suppresses fat cell receptors known as PPAR- Gamma (Perioxisome profilerator-activated receptor-gamma); these receptors are responsible for maturation of fat cells (Egras, Hamilton, Lenz, & Monaghan, 2011). Thus, the storage of fats is blocked effectively.
- Positively influencing leptin and adiponectin levels – Irvingia gabonensis favourably affects the levels of leptin and adiponectin in the body.
- Both leptin and adiponectin are secreted by adipose tissue (fat tissue). However they influence fat metabolism differently. Whereas leptin increases deposition of fat, adiponectin helps in reducing fat. So, lesser the leptin and more the adiponectin in your blood, the leaner you will be. Research shows that Irvingia gabonensis reduces leptin while increasing adiponectin thus helping fat loss.
- Inhibition of carbohydrates absorption – Irvingia gabonensis extract is rich in soluble fibre. It acts as a ‘laxative’ – delays stomach emptying leading to slower absorption of simple carbohydrates (Vuksan et al., 1999). This prevents sudden rise in blood sugar levels; useful for prevention of diabetes or better control of blood sugar in diabetics. More importantly slower absorption of simple carbs (sugars) means your insulin will not shoot up after a meal. This prevents deposition of excess calories as body fat.
In short, Irvingia gabonensis extract;
- Blocks adipogenesis
- Favourably influences leptin and adiponectin levels
- Inhibits carbohydrate absorption
Other Health Benefits of Irvingia Gabonensis
Supplementing with Irvingia gabonensis extract has numerous other health benefits as well.
- Reduces blood pressure significantly (Ngondi et al., 2005)
- Reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides and LDL (the bad cholesterol) while increasing the good cholesterol – HDL (Ngondi et al., 2005)
- Improves parameters of metabolic syndrome especially insulin resistance – prevents development of diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases
- Increases adiponectin levels (Egras et al., 2011) – in addition to causing fat-loss, increased adiponectin levels improves vascular health and prevents development of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and cardiac ischemia
- Suppresses leptin levels (Egras et al., 2011) – prevents obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Irvingia gabonensis seems to be safe and is extremely well tolerate. Adverse effects are rare and mild in nature (Egras et al., 2011) .
- and very rarely, sleep disturbances
Evidence in Favour of Irvingia Gabonensis
There is no shortage of scientific studies that categorically state that Irvingia gabonensis causes fat loss exist (Egras et al., 2011; Ngondi et al., 2005; Ngondi et al., 2009; Oben, Ngondi, & Blum, 2008; Oben, Ngondi, Momo, Agbor, & Sobgui, 2008; Vuksan et al., 1999). What’s more impressive is that most of the scientific evidence comes from human studies and not animal studies (as is the case with most other fat-loss agents).
- A trial conducted by Ngondi and his colleagues in 2005 had 40 obese men consuming 350mg of Irvingia gabonensis extract daily (Ngondi et al., 2005). Over a period of 4 weeks, statistically significant reduction in body weight, waist and hip circumferences was observed.
- Another similar study found that 150mg of the extract over 10 weeks caused striking changes in body weight (12.8Kg), waist circumferences (16.19cm) and body fat percentages (6.3%) (Ngondi et al., 2009).
- Irvingia gabonensis has been shown to increase adiponectin level by as a phenomenal 159.8% over the baseline (Ngondi et al., 2009). Given the amazing anti-obesity role played by adiponectin, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Irvingia gabonensis extract causes fat loss.
- Supplementing with Irvingia gabonensis cause a significant fall in leptin levels (Ngondi et al., 2009). Plasma levels of leptin have a strong correlation with the amount of body fat you carry (Friedman & Halaas, 1998). Fall in levels of leptin caused by Irvingia may therefore be one of the mechanism which leads to fat loss.
So, what’s our verdict on Irvingia gabonensis? Well, it should cause fat loss! Not to mention, provide other health benefits as well.
- Conway, B. & Rene, A. (2004). Obesity as a disease: no lightweight matter. Obes Rev, 5, 145-151.
- Egras, A. M., Hamilton, W. R., Lenz, T. L., & Monaghan, M. S. (2011). An evidence-based review of fat modifying supplemental weight loss products. J Obes, 2011. Online Reference
- Friedman, J. M. & Halaas, J. L. (1998). Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals. Nature, 395, 763-770. Online Reference
- Ngondi, J. L., Etoundi, B. C., Nyangono, C. B., Mbofung, C. M., & Oben, J. E. (2009). IGOB131, a novel seed extract of the West African plant Irvingia gabonensis, significantly reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight humans in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled investigation. Lipids Health Dis., 8, 7. Online Reference
- Ngondi, J. L., Oben, J. E., & Minka, S. R. (2005). The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon. Lipids Health Dis., 4, 12. Online Reference
- Oben, J. E., Ngondi, J. L., & Blum, K. (2008). Inhibition of Irvingia gabonensis seed extract (OB131) on adipogenesis as mediated via down regulation of the PPARgamma and leptin genes and up-regulation of the adiponectin gene. Lipids Health Dis., 7, 44. Online Reference
- Oben, J. E., Ngondi, J. L., Momo, C. N., Agbor, G. A., & Sobgui, C. S. (2008). The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Lipids Health Dis., 7, 12. Online Reference
- Vuksan, V., Jenkins, D. J., Spadafora, P., Sievenpiper, J. L., Owen, R., Vidgen, E. et al. (1999). Konjac-mannan (glucomannan) improves glycemia and other associated risk factors for coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes. A randomized controlled metabolic trial. Diabetes Care, 22, 913-919. Online Reference
About the author: Rachel Butler
Rachel has been with us since we launched back in 2012.
Rachel has reviewed countless products over the years, and has written many articles offering sound advice. Her professional opinions are widely respected.
Rachel graduated a BSc in Clinical Science from the University of Leicester, U.K.
She lives in York with her husband and young daughter and their dog, a little terrier named Betsy.
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.
Have Your Say
2 comments on 'Irvingia Gabonensis: A Brilliant Fat Burner?'
The Efficacy of Irvingia Gabonensis Supplementation in the Management of Overweight and Obesity: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
Igho Onakpoya , MD, Lucy Davies , PhD, Paul Posadzki , PhD & Edzard Ernst , MD, PhD
This systematic review found the research flawed and the authors conclude saying they could not recommend Irvingia.
In this Irvingia gabonensis extract review you say that “Research shows that Irvingia gabonensis reduces leptin while increasing adiponectin thus helping fat loss.” and “Supplementing with Irvingia gabonensis cause a significant fall in leptin levels (Ngondi et al., 2009). Plasma levels of leptin have a strong correlation with the amount of body fat you carry (Friedman & Halaas, 1998). Fall in levels of leptin caused by Irvingia may therefore be one of the mechanism which leads to fat loss.” yet other products like Leptiburn say they work by increasing Leptin levels and increasing Leptin sensitivity. How do you reconcile this disparity? I have no financial interest in any of these products.