Here's a quick update on the state of the hoodia gordonii supplement industry. You probably already know that I don't sell hoodia products nor do I make any commissions on any such sales, so I've been looking into this as a consumer advocate, trying to sort out fact from fiction for those people interested in using natural appetite suppressants.
According to my research, the vast majority of the hoodia gordonii sold in the United States and around the world is still counterfeit. I spoke with Elan Sudberg at Alkemists Pharmaceuticals, who confirmed that they're getting about a 60 percent failure rate for hoodia. That means that 60 percent of the hoodia samples submitted to them for verification are failing -- and these batches are coming from companies who believe they have genuine hoodia. There are probably many more samples that never get sent in for testing because the companies selling them either don't care or already know they're not genuine. I am estimating as much as 80 percent of the hoodia currently being purchased by consumers is either adulterated, which means cut with other ingredients, or contains no actual hoodia gordonii whatsoever.
The supplements that are consistently verified as being genuine hoodia gordonii include the Desert Burn brand, the Hoodoba brand from Strictly Health Corp., and the Hoodia Hoodia brand from Millennium Health. Those three pass on a more consistent basis than the products being distributed in retail, in fact. This is the rare case where the internet is offering better quality and more honest products than you can buy at retail. Even some of the big retail chains selling hoodia weight loss products are selling counterfeit hoodia gordonii. I'm not going to name names, because there aren't enough lawyers in the world to defend me against the onslaught of legal claims that would be unleashed if I did; however, I can tell you I would only buy hoodia online through the sources that I've mentioned, or through any others that consistently pass the certification tests.
How to know who to trust
The problem is that it's really tough to know which companies to trust. There are companies that will post counterfeit CITES certificates -- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a document required to sell hoodia and verify that it has been obtained through legal channels. They can fake the lab tests by submitting a genuine batch for approval and then replacing it with adulterated material in the actual production run. They can steal CITES certificates from other companies and then use Photoshop to replace the company name.
There's even evidence now that some companies are using soluble material to cut their product in a way that is difficult to detect in laboratory testing. Hoodia supplement retailers and sellers are certainly coming up with very creative ways to keep selling the counterfeit product without anyone knowing.
But whether it's real or not is really only one part of the question concerning hoodia. As I've said, my estimate is that 80 percent of the hoodia being sold today contains no genuine hoodia gordonii. Not all the people selling hoodia are crooks: wholesalers have swindled some into thinking they're buying real hoodia when, in reality, they're being hoodwinked.
Does genuine hoodia really work?
It is sad that this mess overshadows the other part of the question, which is whether or not hoodia gordonii works as an appetite suppressant even if you have the real thing. Because there has been so much counterfeiting and so much adulterated hoodia being sold to consumers, most people who have used hoodia didn't notice any effect. They think that hoodia doesn't work, but they probably weren't taking real hoodia in the first place.
I believe that hoodia holds potential for being a highly effective appetite suppressant. As I reported earlier in my own experiments with genuine hoodia, it did take the edge off the hunger, even though it wasn't a magic pill that just turned off hunger like a light switch. It could be quite valuable as part of an ongoing weight loss effort that includes high-density nutrition, avoidance of high-glycemic foods and a regular physical exercise program.
In fact, I think genuine hoodia gordonii could be more effective than prescription drugs for helping people lose weight. But most people will never find out whether hoodia works for them because they'll never get their hands on the real thing. Until the Federal Trade Commission steps in and begins to really crack down on the con artists who currently dominate much of the marketing and advertising in the hoodia industry, American consumers are going to continue to be victimized.
The bottom line is that genuine hoodia, if you can find it, seems to help as an appetite suppressant and at the very least holds promise for future research into weight loss supplements. But beware, because if you're buying hoodia retail or even from honest-looking companies online, you're probably not getting genuine hoodia.
And finally, as I've always said, there's no such thing as a magic pill that's going to cause you to lose weight without changing your diet (eliminating high-glycemic, processed foods) and engaging in regular physical exercise. While there are, indeed, natural supplements that can aid in your weight loss efforts, putting your full faith in any single weight loss pill -- whether it's a drug, an herb or a succulent -- is likely to result in disappointment.