African Plant Helps Fight Fat

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December 20, 2007 | 44,636 views

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. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have been eating the hoodia plant for centuries (not to lose weight, but to stave off hunger pains when food was scarce). It was first researched by a South African laboratory in the 1960s as part of a study about indigenous foods.

When the plant was fed to animals, the researchers realized that they lost weight. But it was another 30 years before the active ingredient was identified and its appetite-suppressing qualities realized.

Hoodia does, in fact, seem to naturally take away your desire to eat, without any after effects. It’s thought that it mimics the effects of glucose on your brain, making you feel full.

However, I would be wary of Phytopharm’s promised hoodia meal-replacement products, as they’re likely to contain an array of artificial sweeteners and other chemicals to mask the plant’s bitter flavor.

It is also a buyer beware environment when it comes to the hoodia products already sold on the Web. Many of them contain counterfeit ingredients and fillers, so you must be sure you are buying from a quality source.

Of course, you can always decide to lose weight the “old-fashioned” way, which has nothing to do with suppressing your appetite and everything to do with eating (healthy, that is).

Some tips to normalize your weight, with side effects of increased energy and vitality, include:

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