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Garcinia Cambogia (Garcinia gummi-gutta), also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a tropical fruit grown in Southeast Asia, India and Africa. It bears a small fruit, similar in appearance to a pumpkin and has been traditionally used to reduce appetite and help people with obesity, digestive and bowel problems, intestinal parasites, and arthritis. The key active ingredient in Garcinia cambogia is Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and its lactone responsible for weight loss, appetite reduction, and blocking fat accumulation (>, >).
The health benefits of Garcinia cambogia may include the following:
Scientific data show that HCA can reduce BMI and body weight, promote utilization of fatty acids as an energy source, suppress appetite, and increases serum serotonin and leptin levels helping to cope with emotional eating. Several experiments on rats have demonstrated significant belly fat reduction, weight loss, and lowered blood glucose levels (>, >, >). At least two studies reported a significant decrease in visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, and total body fat areas in the HCA group compared with placebo.
According to a 2015 scientific review of research on Garcinia cambogia, “Studies have shown that the extracts as well as the hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a main organic acid component of the fruit rind, exhibited anti-obesity activity including reduced food intake and body fat by regulating the serotonin levels related to satiety and increased fat oxidation. The extract from the plant also exerted hypolipidaemic (fats and cholesterol lowering), antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiparasitic, anticholinesterase (acetylcholine increasing) and hepatoprotective activities” (>). Hydroxycitric acid contributes to weight loss (1) > Hydroxycitric acid contributes to weight loss (2) >Garcinia cambogia extract ameliorates visceral adiposity in mice fed on a high-fat diet > Taking into consideration four relevant clinical human trials (>, >, >, >), the average weight loss as a result of taking Garcinia cambogia supplements (1.200-2.800mg per day, 50-60% HCA) was 3 pounds more than placebo. In a 3-month study, Garcinia cambogia reduced body weight by about 3.7 kilos, in 89 mildly overweight adults (>). In another 3-month trial it reduced weight in 20 obese adults by 3.5 kilos, of which 85% was fat (>).
Garcinia cambogia extract (HCA) can help lower appetite by increasing production of the neurotransmitter and antidepressant serotonin, which apart from being associated with calm and happy feelings, is also known to regulate appetite, reducing unhealthy cravings and desire for comfort foods (>, >, >, >, >, >, >, >, >). Since Garcinia cambogia leads to increased availability of serotonin which helps suppress appetite, it should be regarded as one of the mechanisms contributing to the weight loss effect of G. cambogia in humans.
Animal studies show Garcinia cambogia may also help increase energy expenditure (>).
In a 5-day experiment of 6 male athletes, hydroxycitric acid from Garcinia cambogia increased fat breakdown and decreased carbohydrates breakdown, thus helping boost endurance performance through sparing sugar reserves (>).
In another experiment, the use of Garcinia cambogia produced similar results. It again increased fat breakdown and decreased carbohydrates breakdown, enhancing exercise performance in six female participants (>).
Garcinia cambogia may help reduce insulin resistance and supports healthy blood sugar levels by encouraging body cells to increase the uptake of sugar (glucose) from the blood and use it to produce energy (>, >, >).
Raspberry ketone and Garcinia Cambogia rebalanced disrupted insulin resistance and leptin signalling in rats fed high fat fructose diet >
In an animal study, the Garcinia cambogia extract produced a diuretic effect increasing the elimination of excess fluids (water), which in fact, could be another factor that may contribute to its weight-reducing effect (>).
Normal use of HCA supplements shouldn’t cause any harmful side effects. However, as it is true with many other good natural remedies and nutritional supplements, taking higher doses may in rare cases lead to some gastro-intestinal problems.
According to a 2015 scientific overview of Garcinia cambogia, “Although the possible toxicity associated with the regular use of HCA has raised concerns, in most cases, complaints have been related to multicomponent formulations and at this stage G. cambogia has not been confirmed as the potentially toxic culprit” (>). A 2011 meta-analysis > which examined all published research on Garcinia Cambogia, concluded that it is safe and free from any major side effects when taken at dosages up to 2800 mg (60% HCA) per day . There are many other studies which demonstrated that Garcinia cambogia is safe and free from bad side effects (>).
Due to the lack of sufficient scientific data, Garcinia cambogia is not recommended to be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Garcinia cambogia is not recommended to be used by individuals who are on medications that help control asthma, allergies, diabetes, cholesterol (statins, etc.), blood thinning (warfarin, etc.), and mental disorders like anxiety or depression.
With regards to supplements containing HTC from Garcinia cambogia, typical recommended dose is usually about 500mg to 1000mg (minimum 50% HCA) taken two times daily 30-60 minutes before meals with a glass of water or herbal tea.
It is advisable to start from smaller dose such as about 500 mg per day, and then increase to 1000 mg per day after a week or so, and to not more than 2000 mg after another week.
It is better to not take Garcinia cambogia continuously for a very long time. Stop taking it after every week for 1 day; and after every three months, take one month break.
To get better results make sure to find a supplement which contains Garcinia Cambogia Fruit Extract which is standardised to contain minimum 50% HCA.
Unfortunately, many Garcinia cambogia formulas contain only a fraction of HCA active ingredient to keep costs down, but the effectiveness is very low.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
– Downs, B.W., Bagchi, M., Subbaraju, G.V., et al (2005) Bioefficacy of a novel calcium-potassium salt of hydroxycitric acid. Mutat Res. 2005 Nov 11;579(1-2):149-62.
– Ohia, S.E., Opere, C.A., LeDay, A.M., et al (2002) Safety and mechanism of appetite suppression by a novel hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX). Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Sep; 238(1-2): 89-103.
– Roongpisuthipong, C., Kantawan, R., Roongpisuthipong, W. (2007) Reduction of adipose tissue and body weight: effect of water soluble calcium hydroxycitrate in Garcinia atroviridis on the short term treatment of obese women in Thailand. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007; 16(1): 25-9.
– Preussa, H.G., Bagchib, D., Bagchi, M., et al (2004) Efficacy of a novel, natural extract of hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX) and a combination of (…) in weight management in human volunteers. Nutrition Research Volume 24, Issue 1, January 2004.
– Preuss, H.G., Garis, R.I., Bramble, J.D., et al (2005) Efficacy of a novel calcium/potassium salt of hydroxycitric acid in weight control. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2005; 25(3): 133-44.
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