Garcinia Cambogia and Weight Loss


       In recent years a lot of press has been generated concerning a fruit known as Garcinia Cambogia and its purported ability to facilitate weight loss.  This botanical has been featured in infomercials and even Dr. Oz joined the fray in featuring Garcinia on one of his programs.  What is Garcinia Cambogia and what evidence is there for it being effective in weight loss? 

       Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit that looks like a small pumpkin and is generally green in color.  It has been used for centuries in various parts of Asia, India and Africa as a flavoring agent in cooking.  While other components of Garcinia may be involved, the research done on Garcinia indicates that a substance in the rind (peel) of the fruit called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is mainly responsible for facilitating weight loss. 

       HCA appears to work in several ways.  It has been shown to suppress the appetite by increasing levels of the hormone serotonin.  Serotonin is a hormone produced in the brain that plays an important role in sleep and mood regulation. It also appears to have some regulatory effect on appetite.  Secondly, HCA inhibits the enzyme ATP citrate lyase which is a key enzyme in the process of de novo lipogenesis (DNL).  DNL is the process of converting excess carbohydrates into lipids (fats) for storage.

       As a result of the action of HCA on the enzyme ATP citrate lyase, two carbon units required for the making of fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides are diverted to the liver where they are synthesized into glycogen (stored carbohydrate) rather than converted into fats.  Glycogen is then released by the liver as needed by the body for energy.  During the DNL process, a signal is sent to the brain that triggers the release of the hormone serotonin which results in producing a reduction in appetite.

       Because of the action of HCA in inhibiting the conversion of carbohydrate to fat, the Garcinia Cambogia extract of HCA has been shown to be effective in reducing the endogenous synthesis (making of fats in the body) of cholesterol and triglycerides.   Fats ingested in the diet are not affected by HCA.  However, because of the mild appetite suppression associated with the DNL process, a person using Garcinia may eat less and consequently ingest less fat, as well as less carbohydrate.

       Several animal and placebo controlled human studies have found that supplementing with Garcinia Cambogia extracts has resulted in weight loss and appetite suppression.  On the other hand, other such studies have not shown this to be the case.  The problem in human studies has been that a wide range of potency levels have been used along with a variety of differently made Garcinia Cambogia products.  This has made it difficult to determine what the potency level of usage should be or what Garcinia formulation is most effective for weight loss.

       One study involved 60 overweight individuals who were given 440 mg of HCA three times per day for eight weeks.  This was a placebo controlled double blind study where half the individuals received the HCA and half received a placebo (dummy pill) with neither group knowing what they were getting.   This study showed significant weight loss for those receiving the HCA as opposed to those receiving the placebo (Thom E. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) in the treatment of obesity [abstract]. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996; 20 (suppl 4):75). 

       In another study lasting twelve weeks and also using the double-blind, placebo controlled protocol, 135 overweight individuals were given either a placebo or 500 mg of a standardized 50% extract of HCA from Garcinia Cambogia three times daily.  This study showed no loss of weight or effect on the fat content of the body (Badmaev V, Majeed M, Conte AA, et al. Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss [letter]. JAMA. 1999; 282:233-234).  It should be pointed out that this study had its participants on a high fiber diet which some believe negatively impacts HCA absorption.

       The research involving Garcinia Cambogia as a mechanism for weight loss has shown some measure of efficacy for this botanical producing weight loss in humans.  Such weight loss appears primarily related to the action of the HCA found in the rind of the fruit.  A number of individuals using Garcinia Cambogia have testified to having lost weight when using this product.  Further clinical trials need to be done to establish greater evidence for the effectiveness of Garcinia Cambogia as a weight loss product.

       At Milk ‘N Honey we carry several Garcinia Cambogia products.