Originally published December 5 2004
Hoodia gordonii is no miracle weight loss pill, health investigation reveals
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
This is part six of our investigative series on hoodia gordonii, the natural appetite suppressant herb now gaining widespread popularity as a potential weight loss pill. If you've read much about hoodia, it all sounds rather convincing: lose weight without feeling hungry. What could be easier?
But is it really true?
Let's take a hard look at the science and reality of using hoodia. First, there's the problem that there's only one decent study on hoodia, and it was conducted on a small number of people, all of whom were obese. Even if the results of that study hold out for larger numbers of obese people, it doesn't mean it will necessarily help people lose that last ten pounds of body fat. As you approach a greater level of fitness, your body chemistry adapts, and going from 20% body fat to 15% is nowhere near as easy as going from, say, 30% to 25%.
Clearly, the science is sparse on hoodia so far. That doesn't mean it doesn't work, only that the level of research conducted so far does not convince me that hoodia is useful for appetite control across the entire population. We need a lot more research before arriving at that broad conclusion.
Secondly, there have been no widespread clinical trials examining the safety of hoodia as a nutritional supplement. Although no problems have been reported to my knowledge, and the African tribesman apparently chew hoodia with no ill effects, the fact is that hoodia may have side effects we do not yet fathom when distributed to the public at large. Although there's nothing in the research that shows hoodia to be dangerous for people who wish to experiment with this appetite suppressant, there's also nothing to show that it's 100% safe for everyone.
This isn't a traditional Chinese herb that has thousands of years of medicinal use to back it up, for example. It's not something that comes with a convincing amount of evidence for long-term use by indigenous cultures. Even the San tribesmen only used it sparingly. They weren't taking this herb every day like many Americans plan to. And what is the safety of this herb for pregnant women? I don't think that question has been sufficiently addressed.
My own experience with hoodia
In addition to my skepticism about the studies conducted on hoodia so far, my own experience with hoodia uncovers some additional questions. Naturally, I tested hoodia on myself for quite some time (several months). During that time, I carefully noted my level of hunger three times a day (rating my appetite on a scale of 1 - 10), and noted my dosage of hoodia gordonii. Here's what I learned:
In other words, in my experience, hoodia was a help, but it was not at a miracle pill. It didn't just shut off my hunger like a light switch. It was an aid, yes, but I had to take a lot of hoodia to have any effect, and I still had to control my food choices or the hoodia offered no help whatsoever.
- Hoodia does help suppress your appetite, but there are many caveats, as you'll see below.
- The dosage of hoodia necessary to truly suppress my appetite was far, far larger than the dosages claimed by many websites selling hoodia. While some hoodia formulas contain only 100mg of hoodia per serving, I found that I needed 1000mg of hoodia three times a day to have any real effect. That's three grams of hoodia per day, and the cost adds up quickly.
- Hoodia does not counteract the blood sugar drops that occur following the consumption of refined carbohydrates like soft drinks, cookies, white bread, white rice and other simple carbohydrates. In fact, on days that I ate carbs, my appetite wasn't lowered at all. Hoodia only appeared to work in conjunction with a controlled carbohydrate diet. And some would say that a controlled carb diet works by itself anyway (which is partly true, but in my case, I also have to give some credit to the hoodia).
- Hoodia in no way stops your body from feeling intense hunger after a heavy workout. When I engage in strength training, I feel ravenous within minutes. Of course, I train harder than 99% of the people out there, but let this be a lesson: if you work out hard, you're still going to feel hungry, hoodia or not. In other words, hoodia doesn't cause your body to lose its mind. Your muscles still scream out for calories.
- Note: I have recently received lab analysis verification of the authenticity of the hoodia gordonii from Hoodoba - Hoodia Gordonii Diet Pills, which is now my #1 recommended source for hoodia capsules.
How I use hoodia
With this said, it is notable that I still use hoodia, and here's how: I now use the tincture exclusively, and I use it in the evening to help control late-night cravings. Even though I'm skeptical about the safety of long-term use of this product, I consider it safe for occasional use -- but that's just my own opinion, and I know I have stronger liver function than most people. Your results may vary. I personally believe hoodia to be perfectly safe, and I have chosen to make it part of my collection of nutritional supplements that I use to maintain ideal health and body weight. Whether you make the same choice is entirely up to you.
Hoodia does not release you from responsibility
If you choose to purchase hoodia, make sure you have realistic expectations about what will really be required to lose weight. On the Internet, hoodia is frequently promoted as a magic bullet solution. "Lose weight almost like magic!" But in reality, it isn't magic, and weight loss isn't really automatic. Let me explain:
Taking hoodia is not a license to eat. If you keep eating like you always have, you're going to gain weight. Hoodia doesn't change the laws of physics. What is does is suppress your hunger, allowing you to take control over your eating instead of letting your genes do the driving.
The only way you're going to lose weight is to eat less. Hoodia, in large enough doses, may give you the tool to do that, freeing you from the prison of hunger pangs. But hoodia can't control your arms, your mouth and your tongue. If you keep on eating, you're gonna get fat, plain and simple.
Also, hoodia isn't going to get you into shape. If you really want to lose weight, the best thing you can do for your body is boost your resting metabolism. And the number one way to do that is to add some lean muscle mass to your body by engaging in cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, and so on) and strength training.
Just because the people in the hoodia study sat on their butts and still lost weight doesn't mean that's the best way to do it. I suggest you go do something while taking hoodia. With your hunger turned down and your metabolism turned up, you just might find yourself burning 1500 calories a day or more, causing even more rapid weight loss!
Don't starve yourself
One more warning for the truly desperate: I know there are a few people out there who are thinking, "I'll just take a mega-dose of hoodia and turn off my hunger completely. I won't eat for days, until the fat disappears, and then when I'm slim and trim I'll start eating again."
This sort of plan is not only medically dangerous, it is utterly stupid. Only a fool would attempt to lose weight in such a radical way. Don't even try it. Fact is, if you're losing more than a pound a day, you're ill in some way and need to feed yourself some healthy nutrition!
Don't mega-dose with hoodia. If you take twenty pills or drink an entire bottle of hoodia tincture, chances are you will just make yourself sick and waste your money.
Don't be stupid with this: lose weight gradually. Drink a lot of clean water, exercise regularly, lay off the refined carbs, and take hoodia in reasonable doses (I take around 30 drops of hoodia tincture each evening).
And, as always, get some medical advice from a competent practitioner. If your goal is to lose weight, educate yourself about nutrition first. Do your homework. Be healthy, okay?
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