Garcinia Cambogia: A Word of Caution on This ‘Miracle’ Weight Loss Supplement

Garcinia Cambogia

Story at-a-glance -

  • Garcinia cambogia fruit, also known as Malabar tamarind, has been touted as a “simple solution” that can “bust body fat for good.” It’s said to block the body’s ability to produce fat and suppresses appetite
  • Garcinia cambogia has caught the attention of people who want a quick path towards a slimmer body. But not everything you hear about this supplement is true – read on and discover the truth about Garcinia cambogia

By Dr. Mercola

Garcinia cambogia fruit, also known as Malabar tamarind, has been touted as a “simple solution” that can “bust body fat for good.” It’s said to block the body’s ability to produce fat and suppresses appetite.1 But is there any truth to these claims? What is Garcinia cambogia and how exactly does it affect your body? Here’s what you should know about Garcinia cambogia, and why you should avoid this weight loss supplement at all costs. 

What Does Garcinia Cambogia Do?

Sometimes called gambooge fruit, Garcinia cambogia is a sweet tropical fruit that’s native to Southeast Asia2 and grows across southwest India, Indonesia and Myanmar.3 Once ripe, the pumpkin-shaped fruit, which is about the size of an orange, turns a reddish or yellowish color.4

Garcinia cambogia has long been used to aid in stomach problems, but it’s more popularly known for its culinary uses. The fruit is delicious on its own,5 and the dried rind is sometimes added to curries and chutneys, too.6 However, all that changed in the 1960s, when scientists discovered that a natural substance in Garcinia cambogia’s rind called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) has “potentially attractive qualities.”7

HCA is said to inhibit a key enzyme known as citrate lyase, which is essential for the body’s mechanism of action for producing fat from carbohydrates, and also increases your body’s serotonin levels, hence suppressing your appetite.8 For this reason, Garcinia cambogia extract manufacturers claim that this supplement can lead to these effects:9

Weight loss

Decreased belly fat

Low levels of bad cholesterol

Change in body composition and increased lean muscle mass

Improved overall health

But despite these claims, Garcinia cambogia is not the “miracle cure” it’s promoted to be, as there’s insufficient evidence that it can successfully lead to weight loss.

Garcinia Cambogia Clinical Studies Do Not Confirm Its Weight Loss Effects

There have been several studies conducted on Garcinia cambogia, yet they show different results. Animal studies did reveal the potential effects of the extract, as mice who took the substance ate less and lost weight.10 However, human studies are not as conclusive. In fact, human studies on this supplement found conflicting results. While some studies found that Garcinia cambogia causes modest weight loss, other studies reported that it had no noticeable change on people’s weight.11

An extensive review of existing Garcinia cambogia research also concluded that there’s simply no solid evidence that this supplement had an effect on appetite and satiety.12 In addition, the largest individual study on this supplement, which lasted for 12 weeks and involved 135 participants, found that those who took Garcinia cambogia had no difference in terms of weight loss to those who were given a placebo.13

Beware of These Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects

While no adverse effects have been recorded with consuming the fruit, the same cannot be said for the supplement, as adverse reactions have been reported on it. Minor side effects include:

Dry mouth

Dizziness

Headache

Upset stomach or diarrhea

However, there are some people who experienced life-threatening reactions after taking the supplement. One of the severe side effects of Garcinia cambogia is its effect on liver health. People who took a supplement called Hydroxycut, which contained Garcinia cambogia, experienced liver problems,14 leading the FDA to warn the public against using weight loss products that had Garcinia cambogia as an ingredient.15

Another side effect of Garcinia cambogia is its potential to interact with diabetes medications. Taking this supplement can actually cause a diabetic person’s blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels.16 In mice studies, excessively high intake of this extract has been found to cause testicular atrophy (shrinking of testicles) and interfere with sperm production.17,18

Meanwhile, a woman who was taking antidepressant medications developed serotonin toxicity after supplementing with over-the-counter Garcinia cambogia capsules.19 This supplement is also ill-advised for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as it can worsen these two conditions.20

The Best Way to Manage Your Weight Is Through a Healthy Diet and an Active Lifestyle

The truth is that “magic” weight loss supplements are a nod to the pharmaceutical Band-Aid mentality – they go against the idea that a healthy lifestyle is the key to achieving optimal health.

Instead of relying on these supplements to reach your weight loss goals, I recommend eating a balanced healthy diet and embracing a proper lifestyle instead. One incredible strategy that can complement your weight loss effects is Peak Fasting – it’s safer and will give you better results than Garcinia cambogia, or any diet pill for that matter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Garcinia Cambogia

Q: Is natural Garcinia cambogia fruit safe?

A: While there are some safety concerns about Garcinia cambogia supplement, the fruit itself is safe to eat, and has been used in culinary preparations for a long time. The Garcinia cambogia fruit is acidic, and can be eaten raw or pickled. Its fleshy rind, whether fresh or after being dried and smoked, is popular as a condiment added to curries and as an alternative to tamarind, lime and mango in various dishes.21

Q: Does Garcinia cambogia work for depression?

A: One of the effects of the HCA in Garcinia cambogia is increasing serotonin levels, a hormone that’s linked to behavior, mood, appetite and sexual desire. Low levels of this neurotransmitter is said to cause depression and anxiety. However, there are no significant studies that confirm that Garcinia cambogia can alleviate depression.22

Q: How much Garcinia cambogia is advisable to take?

A: According to WebMD, there is currently insufficient scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Garcinia cambogia. It may also depend on several factors, such as the user's age, state of health and several other conditions.23

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