What’s all the hype about Garcinia Cambogia?


What do you think about Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia cambogia has received media attention lately for its use as a weight loss supplement. From the rind of the tamarind fruit, the bioactive compound thought to have weight loss effects is the naturally occurring chemical, hydroxycitric acid.

Where can you find Garcinia Cambogia? If your mind goes straight to Tamarind chutney at your favorite Indian restaurant like ours, be aware this chemical is found in the rind, and so extra-chutney isn’t going to help! Most research trials involve ingesting Garcinia cambogia tablets 30 minutes before meals, three times daily. According to a review of available literature, there were no adverse effects associated with intake up to 2800 mg/day in both animal and human studies for twelve weeks or less (1). However, trials have been with mostly healthy obese patients, and safety is unclear for other populations, like pregnant women or the elderly, so proceed with caution.

How does it work? Researchers suggest that hydroxycitric acid stops ATP-lyase from working. ATP-lyase is involved in your body’s production of its own fat stores (1). So when you eat too much birthday cake and the extra calories are stored as fat, this is the biochemical machinery that gets it done. Additionally, some say Garcinia cambogia can suppress appetite (1). Both explanations account for the potential weight-reducing effects of the supplement.

But does it really work? To determine the safety and efficacy of weight-loss supplements we must turn to the research. There are many scientific articles written about the effectiveness of using Garcinia cambogia for weight loss. Some conclude it is effective, and others do not. At this moment in time the scientific community is unsettled about whether or not Garcinia cambogia is an effective weight loss supplement. We will provide you with some evidence on both sides and ask you to weigh in (pun intended).

What the Pro side says:

There are a few studies that show the supplement is effective. One such study with 39 participants published in 2003 compares visceral fat loss over 12 weeks between a calorie-restricted placebo group and calorie restricted Garcinia cambogia treatment group which took 1000 mg of hydroxycitric acid daily (2). All participants were identified as having the visceral fat accumulation type of obesity. Visceral fat is fat that accumulates around organs and has been associated with higher risk of chronic disease. This study was a randomized, double blind control trial, the “gold standard” of research design. Despite the small sample size, statistically significant greater reductions were seen in visceral fat for the Garcinia cambogia group than the placebo group. It is curious that visceral fat was significantly different, but weight loss was not. Perhaps a greater sample size would strengthen or weaken the findings of these researchers?

What the Con side says:

There are a few trials that do not show any greater weight loss for participants taking Garcinia camobgia. For instance, a 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared 135 subjects split into two groups of obese patients who were on reduced calorie diets. One group received Garcinia cambogia, and the other a placebo. At the end of the 12 week experiment, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight and body fat mass. This study used superior methods to many previous trials, being a randomized double blind control trial. The investigators did note that while they had an independent lab test their supplement for purity, they did not have blood tested for levels of hydroxycitric acid, a possible weakness to their study (3).

Our current recommendation:

While the scientific community is still working on the issue, we noticed trials involving Garcinia cambogia supplementation also included lifestyle modifications, like caloric restrictions and exercise. Supplementation is not a long-term solution, since safety has only been shown for up to 12 weeks of use. For that reason we recommend whether or not you choose to use Garcinia cambogia supplementation, you talk to use about sustainable lifestyle modifications, to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it!

So, what do you think about weight loss supplements like Garcinia cambogia? Have you tried them before? What has worked for you?



1. Soni MG, Burdock GA, Preuss HG, Stohs SJ, Ohia SE, Bagchi D. Safety assessment of (-)-hydroxycitric acid and Super CitriMax, a novel calcium/potassium salt. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004;42(9):1513-29.

2. Hayamizu K, Ishii Y, Kaneko I, Shen M, Okuhara Y, Shigematsu N. Current Therapeutic Research Effects of Garcinia cambogia ( Hydroxycitric Acid ) on Visceral Fat Accumulation : A Double-Blind , Randomized , Placebo-Controlled Trial. 2003;(8):551–567. doi:10.1016/S0011-393X(03)00152-8.

3. Preuss HG, Rao CV, Garis R, et al. An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management. J Med. 2004;35(1-6):33-48.

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