The last few decades have seen an exponential rise in the number of overweight and obese persons. At the turn of the millennium, almost 65% of the adult US population was either overweight or obese (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, & Johnson, 2002).
Obesity and the pathologic conditions that it gives rise to – type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, to name a few – are a serious concern to the wellbeing of the individual as well the economies of world countries (World Health Organization, 1999).
Declining levels of physical activity combined with failure of contemporary methods of treating obesity means that the search for the ‘ideal weight-reducing’ prescription drug or fat-loss supplement is always on. Sadly, most of these drugs or supplements are either not effective or their use is ridden with the risk of severe adverse effects.
Arguably, ‘natural’ supplements (with ingredients derived from medicinal herbs and plants) are considered safer. What’s more, some of these are quite effective in causing loss of body weight.
Cissus quadrangularis is one such natural ingredient that many believe causes weight loss.
The question that begs to be answered though is whether Cissus quadrangularis enjoys scientific backing for it weight-reduction claims. And, if it does, whether it is safe enough for you and me to use?
Well, let us have a closer look!
Cissus quadrangularis (CQ) is a succulent vine indigenous to part of West Africa and Southeast Asia (Oben, Ngondi, Momo, Agbor, & Sobgui, 2008). It has been used in traditional African and Indian medicine since time immemorial.
The age-old discipline of medicine, Ayurveda, recommends the use of Cissus as an analgesic, anthelmintic, anti-asthmatic and anti-dyspeptic medication (Oben, Enyegue, Fomekong, Soukontoua, & Agbor, 2007). In India, local medicine men use it to treat fracture; Cissus, apparently, quickens the fracture healing process (Oben et al., 2007).
In addition to causing weight loss, supplementation with CQ has numerous other health benefits as well; these are discussed in the following section.
A proposed mechanism of action is interference with fat (and carbohydrate) absorption and digestion. CQ extracts, apparently, inhibit enzymes responsible for (fat and carb) absorption – pancreatic lipase by 60%, alpha-amylase by 90% and alpha glucosidase by 39% (Oben et al., 2007).
Cissus quadrangularis contains physiologically active ingredients – flavonoids, indanes, phytosterols and keto-sterols (Oben et al., 2008) – that have powerful antioxidant properties.
Other potentially beneficial contents of CQ are ascorbic acid, carotene, anabolic steroid-like substances, calcium, ?-sitosterols, ?-amyrin, ?-amyrone and flavonoids like quercetin (Chidambara Murthy, Vanitha, Mahadeva, & Ravishankar, 2003). Apparently, these have numerous physiologically and metabolically important effects on the human body (description of which is beyond the scope of this article – suffice to say that most of these are beneficial to human health).
The conclusions drawn from all these studies indicate that CQ may be effective in preventing or treating conditions (Kelley et al., 2002; Griffin, 1999; Oben et al., 2007; Yesilbursa et al., 2005) like:
The doses of CQ for treating most clinical conditions – including overweight or obesity – have not been defined. Most clinical studies investigating the effects of CQ on body weight have tended to use 300mg/day of CQ usually in 2 divided doses taken with meals.
Adverse effects reported by some are of mild nature; these are:
The safety of CQ on long-term use has not been investigated; it should be avoided in conditions like pregnancy, lactation, and severe liver or kidney disease.
A number of studies have investigated the alleged anti-obesity and anti-metabolic-syndrome actions of CQ (Oben, Kuate, Agbor, Momo, & Talla, 2006; Oben et al., 2007).
The authors of this study further suggested that these results are seen even in the absence of dietary restrictions or exercise.
Furthermore, they were of the opinion that combining CQ with another ingredient that causes fat loss – Irvingia gabonensis (IG) – may be even more effective that CQ alone. The study used a twice-daily dose regimen of 300mg of CQ and 500mg of IQ per day.
Studies investigating the other health benefits of CQ supplementation have also reported a positive relation (Chopra et al., 1975; UDUPA & PRASAD, 1962; Chidambara Murthy et al., 2003; Oliver-Bever, 1983).
Prima face, it appears that Cissus quadrangularis is indeed effective in reducing body weight. What’s more, it seems to have a plethora of other impressive health benefits as well. However, the confusion regarding the exact dosage to be used for effective weight loss means the benefits of its supplementation may not be seen in real life.
We reserve our judgement on this one until more concrete proof regarding its use as a weight loss supplement becomes available.
Yesilbursa, D., Serdar, Z., Serdar, A., Sarac, M., Coskun, S., & Jale, C. (2005). Lipid peroxides in obese patients and effects of weight loss with orlistat on lipid peroxides levels. Int J Obes (Lond), 29, 142-145.
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.