Obesity has been a global health scourge for decades. I recall reading a 2016 statistical study which showed that obesity afflicts more than half a billion people worldwide and around two-thirds of Americans. Largely led by unfettered consumption of fat-rich junk foods, processed foods, and aggravated by a sedentary work life in front of the PC, obesity comes with several associated health problems like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases that have galvanized the nation into a heightened level of health consciousness, especially among overweight persons in the last few decades.
In the scientific community, restoring good health has led to “re-discoveries” in alternative herbal medication, reviving old traditions in treating a number of ailments that include obesity. One of these “re-discovered” herbal solutions comes from a lowly tropical fruit – the Garcinia cambogia. Concentrated extracts from the fruit have fanned public clamor after it was featured in the highly popular Dr. Oz TV show in 2012.
I remember watching that episode which featured the fruit as the “Holy Grail” among weight watchers. A quick online research turned out some interesting scientific studies confirming its ability to control weight, along with other health benefits years before the TV show. Needless to say, fueled by a growing public demand, pharmaceutical companies lost no time marketing diet supplements formulated with concentrated or pure Garcinia Cambogia extract (GCE).
How it works
Hydroxycitric acid, the main chemical in Garcinia Cambogia. The Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA comes from the exocarp or dried fruit rind of the Garcinia cambogia. HCA shares a similar molecular structure with citric acids abundant in lemon, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. HCA is also found in several fruits in varying levels but is most abundant in Garcinia cambogia fruits, making them an excellent affordable source for the health-giving extract formulated in weight loss diet supplements.
Some interesting clinical studies
Based on the online studies dealing with the extract, I present below a short summary of a few of the various scientific studies and clinical tests proving the health giving benefits of the Garcinia cambogia extract:
This 12-week clinical test involved 89 mildly overweight women treated with controlled diets for 12 weeks. They were tested under two groups: 42 women treated with 400-mg of GBE an hour before each meal for a total daily dose of 2.4g, and a placebo group with 47 women. Body weight was taken and compared with baseline data every other week.
Outcome: The treated group measured statistically higher weight losses against the placebo group (3.7 kg versus 2.4 kg) due to lower food intake. HCA showed clear evidence of its efficacy as an appetite suppressant resulting in body weight loss.
This 8-week clinical trial conducted in Elluru, India in 2004 explored the efficacy of the Garcinia cambogia extract taken alone or combined with Gymnema sylvestre extract (GSE) and niacin based chromium (NBC). The study involved 60 mildly obese patients with a BMI of 26 kg/m2 or higher and with ages from 21 to 50 years. The volunteers were segregated into Group A who were fed with a diet supplemented with HCA, Group B fed with HCA, GSE, and NBC, and Group C fed with placebo.
Outcome: Groups A and B showed 5% to 6% reduction in weight and BMI resulting from fewer food intake. They also showed significant reduction in blood serum leptin and cholesterol levels. On the other hand, Group C showed no significant results. On its own or in tandem with NBC or GSE, the Garcinia cambogia extract suppressed appetite, inhibited fat break down, and reduced body weight without adversely affecting the central nervous system.
HCA appears to be safe under recommended dosing. However, diet supplements that led to some adverse effects have polyherbal formulation where any active herbal content other than HCA might have caused the reported side effect.
Precautions, safety warning and potential side effects
(1) I strongly advise patients being treated for diabetes to consult with their doctors before taking Garcinia cambogia extracts. HCA can reduce blood sugar levels which could worsen their diabetic condition. (ref)
(2) People with allergies to HCA may not be aware of it until they start taking the supplement. The usual symptoms of allergy are skin itching, rashes, swelling of the mouth, stomach pain, breathing difficulties and headache. If you develop any of these, stop using the supplement and seek medical attention immediately. (ref)
(3) I am not aware of any clinical study indicating that HCA is safe for children under the age of 12, or for pregnant and breast feeding mothers. I would suggest these group of people consult with their doctors before attempting to use Garcinia cambogia extract. (ref)
(4) While there are no medical studies on the interaction of Garcinia cambogia extract with other medication, consult with your doctor before taking any diet supplement if you are under prescriptive medication in treating some health problems.
Recommended dosage for safe weight loss
The common recommended dosage for Garcinia cambogia diet supplement is 1500 mg to be taken before each meal. That means 4.5g each day. Current scientific studies have shown that a daily dose of the Garcinia cambogia extract at 389 mg per kg of body weight is safe. This means that for someone weighing 70kg (154 lbs), a 27.2 kg per day dose (@ 389 mg per kg multiplied by 70 kg) is safe. That gives all the recommended dosages in various Garcinia cambogia diet supplements a wide health safety margin.
When to take Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia Cambogia diet supplements are great when taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes to an hour before each meal. My experience with some of brands confirmed that its appetite inhibiting ability starts to work during this period and you tend to consume less food portions during the meal than you would otherwise do. I was once invited to a party where I know food would be served without limit and I could be indulging myself without control. I took the supplement before getting to the party and I was able to go home without penalizing my waistline. I also recommend not to take the supplement while eating. You could dilute the pharmacological potency of the Garcinia cambogia extract if it interacts with the food or drink you are taking.
Are there any genuine Garcinia supplements
Quick google search shows 100’s of millions of results. However, based on my careful research and analysis I would only recommend GarciniaExtra. There maybe others with potent ingredients, but I don’t have the time or patience to do deeper analysis.