African Plant Helps Fight Fat
December 20, 2007
Hoodia, a bitter-tasting cactus-like plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, may soon grab a piece of the $40-billion yearly market for weight loss products in the United States.
The plant, which has been eaten by the Bushmen of the Kalahari for thousands of years, has an ability to take away appetite by making your brain think you’re full, even if you’ve only eaten a small amount.
The appetite-suppressing ingredient in hoodia has been licensed to Phytopharm, an English pharmaceutical company that is trying to produce weight-loss products using the plant.
To date, the company has spent over $20 million on research, and trials have been promising.
Obese volunteers given hoodia ate about 1,000 calories less a day than those in the control group.
According to Phytopharm, current products on the market that claim to include hoodia may contain as little as 0.1 to 0.01 percent of the active ingredient claimed, and therefore will have no effect.
The company is in the process of growing enough hoodia to meet market demands, and they plan to have meal-replacement hoodia products on supermarket shelves by 2008.