Garcinia cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a small, sweet tropical tree fruit shaped like a pumpkin that grows in tropical climates around the world, including Southeast Asia, South India, and west and central Africa.
The fruit was traditionally used to add a sour flavor to meals but has now become trendy for its effects on weight loss.
The fruit itself looks like a small pumpkin. It commonly features a greenish, pale yellow color and has wrinkled grooved skin. In terms of size, it’s somewhere between a grapefruit and an orange.
Note – in 2018, over 2.1 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight.
For thousands of years, GC remained relatively unknown. However, in 2012 the trajectory of GC changed forever when world-famous TV personality Dr. Oz claimed that GC could be used for natural weight loss with “no exercise or diet” required.
Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is the main active ingredient in GC supplements. The mechanism of action is inhibiting an enzyme called citrate lyase, which is required in the synthesis of fatty acids, known as ”de novo lipogenesis”.
Based on clinical in rats, evidence of suppressed de novo lipogenesis has been noted and oral consumption of hydroxycitric acid appears to reliably reduce food intake and body weight.
The net result is a reduction in overall body fat storage. However, studies in humans, for the most part, fail to replicate this. This may be related to less actual activity of de novo lipogenesis in humans and a much higher level in rats.
In 1998, a study took place over 12 weeks and involved a total of 135 subjects. Some of the subjects took hydroxycitric acid, while others took a placebo. By the end of the 12 week period, the hydroxycitric acid group had not exhibited a statistically significant difference in terms of percentage weight loss or body fat loss.
The researchers concluded that GC failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.
Side effects of Garcinia cambogia
Our liver and kidneys remove toxins, waste and other compounds from our body. They are the main organs designed to clean the body of impurities. People who already have diseases of the liver or kidneys should not take GC because their bodies might not be able to utilize and remove the supplement effectively.
Lowers blood sugar level
While the hydroxycitric acid may be helpful to diabetics who need to have lower levels of blood glucose, the case is not the same for those with hypoglycemia (also called low blood sugar or low blood glucose, it occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels).
Taking supplements with high hydroxycitric acid content may cause the blood sugar level to go down, even lower than normal. Furthermore, those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should not take the supplement as it can worsen dementia that may be already existing.
Some people who take GC may have an allergic reaction to the supplement. Symptoms include redness, hives or rash on the skin, watery eyes, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea as well as feelings of fear and panic.
People who show signs of having an allergic reaction should stop taking the supplement and see a healthcare specialist immediately.
The supplement might decrease the number of nutrients for the developing fetus since GC is able to use the calories from the expectant mother’s food consumption and convert these into energy. Although this will be good for you, it might mean depriving the baby of getting the food nutrients.
Other commonly reported side effects include: dizziness, bad breath, mild headaches, dry mouth, diarrhea, trouble eating, restlessness and lack of sleep.
Moreover, patients taking statins should exercise caution as the combined medicines may increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. In general, if you suffer from any condition that requires constant medication, talk to your doctor before trying GC supplement.
To prevent any side effects or drug interaction, you should consult your healthcare specialist before you go ahead to take any supplement. Make sure that you follow instructions on the use of the supplement carefully.
Garcinia cambogia is not a miracle pill that will help you lose weight while eating pizza on the couch all day.