My Garcinia Cambogia Review
Last updated August 19, 2013 - Obesity has been a global health scourge for decades. I recall reading a 2012 statistical study which showed that obesity afflicts more than half a billion people worldwide and around two-thirds of Americans. Largely led by unfettered consumption of fat-rich junk foods, processed foods, and aggravated by a sedentary work life in front of the PC, obesity comes with several associated health problems like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases that have galvanized the nation into a heightened level of health consciousness, especially among overweight persons in the last few decades.
In the scientific community, restoring good health has led to “re-discoveries” in alternative herbal medication, reviving old traditions in treating a number of ailments that include obesity. One of these “re-discovered” herbal solutions comes from a lowly tropical fruit – the Garcinia cambogia. Concentrated extracts from the fruit have fanned public clamor after it was featured in the highly popular Dr. Oz TV show in 2012. I remember watching that episode which featured the fruit as the “Holy Grail” among weight watchers. A quick online research turned out some interesting scientific studies confirming its ability to control weight, along with other health benefits years before the TV show. Needless to say, fueled by a growing public demand, pharmaceutical companies lost no time marketing diet supplements formulated with concentrated or pure Garcinia Cambogia extract (GCE).
The Garcinia Cambogia fruit
I never heard of Garcinia cambogia until it was featured in the Dr. Oz show. Largely unknown in Western countries until recently, the Garcinia cambogia fruit belongs to the Clusiaceae herbal family which has more than 400 species. The Garcinia mangostana, or the purple mangosteen, is among them. To me, the Garcinia cambogia looks like a baby pumpkin the size of an orange. The fruit is native to India, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, and in tropical African countries as well as in some parts of Australia and the Polynesian islands. It is also often referred to as Brindle Berry, Gambooge, and Assam fruit.
What makes Garcinia Cambogia special?
If you have tasted the fruit as I have, it’s quite sour and won’t make it to your list of favorite fruits. The dried rind of the cambogia is often used as a souring ingredient in several local dishes where it is natively cultivated. But what makes the Garcinia cambogia special is its abundant Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA content. Taking diet supplements formulated with pure Garcinia cambogia extract is known to provide the following health benefits:
- suppresses appetite resulting in reduced fat absorption by as much as 25%;
- regulates moods so that binge eating chronic snacking are minimized;
- maintains healthy blood levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides;
- hinders fat breakdown and storage in body tissues; and
- reduces overall weight and BMI (body mass index).
The Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA comes from the exocarp or dried fruit rind of the Garcinia cambogia. HCA shares a similar molecular structure with citric acids abundant in lemon, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. HCA is also found in several fruits in varying levels but is most abundant in Garcinia cambogia fruits, making them an excellent affordable source for the health-giving extract formulated in weight loss diet supplements.
How does Garcinia cambogia work?
When the calories we consume exceed the energy we burn off, the chronic imbalance results in fat accumulating in our tissues. When left uncontrolled, obesity sets in. I am certain you will agree when I say that being overweight gets in the way of looking young and sexy. But more insidiously, it increases your risk to developing hypertension, stroke, cancer, and heart disease. In my experience as a dieter, managing those risks means losing weight and restoring the proper body mass index (BMI). There have been several studies during the last two decades demonstrating that the HCA in the Garcinia Cambogia extract pharmacologically acts as follows:
(1) Suppresses appetite
HCA promotes the synthesis of and inhibits the re-uptake of serotonin (5-HT), a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain. Raising serotonin levels inhibits appetite or food cravings. It also promotes a “feel good” response when the brain interprets an increase in serotonin level as attaining satiation or satisfaction, thereby controlling the urge to eat more than is needed in nourishing the body.
(2) Controls mood-based binge eating
Because it raises serotonin levels, the Garcinia cambogia’s HCA extract not only suppresses appetite, it also controls one’s mood swings which reduces binge eating along with stress-induced snacking. Heightened serotonin levels calm anxieties and help lift depressed feelings that often lead to eating binges and frequent snacking. I have seen friends who undergo uncontrolled eating binges and snacking when depressed or stressed-out. After a short while, I see them wearing new clothes to accommodate a wider girth.
(3) Reduces cholesterol levels and fat metabolism
Fatty acids in fat-rich diets get metabolized in a biological process called “de novo lipogenesis” or DNL. This process turns unused fatty acids into lipids which are easily stored in the body’s adipose tissues so they can be converted back into energy during times when food intake is limited. Unfortunately, they never get converted into energy when you continue eating. Hence, the stored fats simply accumulate and you start gaining weight. HCA is known to retard or inhibit this process. The Garcinia cambogia extract suppresses adenosine triphosphate-citrate-lyase (ATP citrate lyase), an enzyme that promotes DNL, impairs fat metabolism and reduces cholesterol levels, so that unused fat metabolites are flushed out through either the bowels or the urine.
Scientific studies confirming health benefits of Garcinia cambogia extract
Based on the online studies dealing with the extract, I present below a short summary of a few of the various scientific studies and clinical tests proving the health giving benefits of the Garcinia cambogia extract:
This 12-week clinical test involved 89 mildly overweight women treated with controlled diets for 12 weeks. They were tested under two groups: 42 women treated with 400-mg of GBE an hour before each meal for a total daily dose of 2.4g, and a placebo group with 47 women. Body weight was taken and compared with baseline data every other week.
Outcome: The treated group measured statistically higher weight losses against the placebo group (3.7 kg versus 2.4 kg) due to lower food intake. HCA showed clear evidence of its efficacy as an appetite suppressant resulting in body weight loss.
This 8-week clinical trial conducted in Elluru, India in 2004 explored the efficacy of the Garcinia cambogia extract taken alone or combined with Gymnema sylvestre extract (GSE) and niacin based chromium (NBC). The study involved 60 mildly obese patients with a BMI of 26 kg/m2 or higher and with ages from 21 to 50 years. The volunteers were segregated into Group A who were fed with a diet supplemented with HCA, Group B fed with HCA, GSE, and NBC, and Group C fed with placebo.
Outcome: Groups A and B showed 5% to 6% reduction in weight and BMI resulting from fewer food intake. They also showed significant reduction in blood serum leptin and cholesterol levels. On the other hand, Group C showed no significant results. On its own or in tandem with NBC or GSE, the Garcinia cambogia extract suppressed appetite, inhibited fat break down, and reduced body weight without adversely affecting the central nervous system.
This 2004 90-day laboratory study investigated the dose-dependent effects of 60% HCA extract on Sprague-Dawley rats. The study assessed the BMI, hepatic lipid peroxidation, and other clinical health parameters of the subject rats before and after treatment.
Outcome: At the stated dosage, the results indicated remarkable weight loss among subject rats without any significant changes in clinical health parameters.
This clinical test conducted in 2008 assessed the therapeutic efficacy of Garcinia cambogia diet supplements with 52.4% HCA mixed with konjac extract formulated with 94.9% glucomannan. The test involved 58 obese volunteers with BMI from 30.0 to 39.9 kg/m2 and grouped into treated and control placebo group.
Outcome: The results showed statistically significant decrease in overall cholesterol levels compared with the control group.
Other clinical trials:
This randomized clinical test conducted over 4 weeks involved 150 obese patients segregated into treated and placebo control groups. The treated groups were administered with 55 mg of Garcinia cambogia extract, 240 mg of chitosan, and 19 mg of chrome 19 mg, coupled with a weight reduction regimen.
Outcome: The results of the trial showed that the treated group administered with the Garcinia cambogia diet supplement exhibited statistically significant dose-related decrease in LDL cholesterol, Triglycerides, overall weight and an improvement in HDL cholesterol over the groups.
This randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 40 patients over an 8-week period. The treated group was administered with 500 mg of the HCA while the other group was treated with placebo.
Outcome: Patients treated with the extract exhibited statistically higher weight losses and improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those in the placebo group.
Garcinia cambogia side effects
I have seen many dieters suffer nausea, heart palpitations, heightened nervousness, low energy levels, sleep dysfunctions and stomach cramps from using popular names in weight loss dietary supplements. These unwanted side effects can be attributed to such active ingredients as caffeine, ephedra or phenylpropanolamine which can adversely impact on the central nervous system. In contrast, my observation with dieters taking Garcinia cambogia supplements is that they suffer no unwanted side effects at dosages recommended in the labels. This confirms what most literatures on the extract have pointed out as well as several studies evaluating its potential toxicity as a weight loss diet supplement. Here are summaries of a couple of the studies proving its safety:
This 2002 lab study on Albino mice explored (a) HCA safety in vivo, and (2) effects of serotonin 5-HT uptake in brain cortex in vitro. HCA safety was assessed via primary dermal and eye irritation tests at various HCA doses.
Outcome: Results indicated there were no statistically significant toxicity levels in inhibiting serotonin uptake.
This 2012 study reviewed various published lab reports on the efficacy and safety of HCA extract in various dosages. While most of the reviewed materials showed minimal reduction in overall weight with no toxicity when supplements used was formulated only with pure HCA extracts, other studies showed potential toxicity that led to spermatogenesis when the supplements used had polyherbal formulation with HCA as just among the active ingredients.
Outcome: HCA appears to be safe under recommended dosing. However, diet supplements that led to some adverse effects have polyherbal formulation where any active herbal content other than HCA might have caused the reported side effect.
(1) I strongly advise patients being treated for diabetes to consult with their doctors before taking Garcinia cambogia extracts. HCA can reduce blood sugar levels which could worsen their diabetic condition.
(2) People with allergies to HCA may not be aware of it until they start taking the supplement. The usual symptoms of allergy are skin itching, rashes, swelling of the mouth, stomach pain, breathing difficulties and headache. If you develop any of these, stop using the supplement and seek medical attention immediately.
(3) I am not aware of any clinical study indicating that HCA is safe for children under the age of 12, or for pregnant and breast feeding mothers. I would suggest these group of people consult with their doctors before attempting to use Garcinia cambogia extract.
(4) While there are no medical studies on the interaction of Garcinia cambogia extract with other medication, consult with your doctor before taking any diet supplement if you are under prescriptive medication in treating some health problems.
Recommended dosage of Garcinia cambogia extracts
The common recommended dosage for Garcinia cambogia diet supplement is 1500 mg to be taken before each meal. That means 4.5g each day. Current scientific studies have shown that a daily dose of the Garcinia cambogia extract at 389 mg per kg of body weight is safe. This means that for someone weighing 70kg (154 lbs), a 27.2 kg per day dose (@ 389 mg per kg multiplied by 70 kg) is safe. That gives all the recommended dosages in various Garcinia cambogia diet supplements a wide health safety margin.
When to take Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia Cambogia diet supplements are great when taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes to an hour before each meal. My experience with some of brands confirmed that its appetite inhibiting ability starts to work during this period and you tend to consume less food portions during the meal than you would otherwise do. I was once invited to a party where I know food would be served without limit and I could be indulging myself without control. I took the supplement before getting to the party and I was able to go home without penalizing my waistline. I also recommend not to take the supplement while eating. You could dilute the pharmacological potency of the Garcinia cambogia extract if it interacts with the food or drink you are taking.
Garcinia cambogia diet supplements can help you reduce weight even without changing your lifestyle. Some clinical studies on moderately obese volunteers fed with 1,500 mg of the extract lost 2-3 lbs within 30 days without altering their diets. But when taken with low-fat diets coupled with moderate workouts like walking, dieters typically lost 8-12 lbs during the same period.
Where to buy Garcinia cambogia diet supplements
After Dr. Oz featured Garcinia cambogia as the Holy Grail in weight loss, just about all health stores online and off started marketing several brands with pure extracts of HCA. A quick check online, particularly at Amazon, clearly makes the Garcinia cambogia diet supplement readily available to everyone. Don’t worry about FDA approval as diets supplements don’t get such approvals. In addition, your corner drugstore, health food stores in the mall and supermarkets carry a line of Garcinia cambogia products on their shelves.
What to look for when buying Garcinia Cambogia?
Before making your purchase for over-the-counter supplements like Garcinia cambogia, consider the following:
(1) Check the label and make sure it says “Concentrated” or “Pure” Garcinia Cambogia Extract which should contain no less than 50% HCA every 1,000 mg of GCE per capsule or tablet. Lower formulation may be cheaper but this defeats the price advantage when you have to consume more to get the promised weight loss benefits.
(2) Just like any diet supplement, there are brands that are truthful to what it says in the ads and there are those with dubious HCA content that may amount to no more than mere placebos. To be sure, get only the supplements manufactured by reputable and noted pharmaceutical companies with facilities approved by the FDA
(3) Check the ingredient list to be sure that there are few fillers in the Garcinia cambogia formulation. Potassium and Calcium salts have been known to enhance the absorption of HCA into the digestive tract and having them on the formulation can make the supplement more effective.
Attribution: Vssun at ml.wikipedia