The Garcinia Cambogia tree is a tropical evergreen tree originally from Indonesia. It is also known as the Malabar Tamarind or Garcinia Genus (as the Purple Mangosteen or Garcinia Mangostana). Nowadays, it is also grown in other Southeast Asian countries, as well as in Central and Western Africa.
It is the fruit of this tree that is the star. It has the appearance of a small pumpkin and is the size of an apricot; it is a yellow to green color when harvested and black when dried. When opened it has the typical characteristic of Garcinias, a white and pulpy endocarp, the edible part in the majority of Garcinia species. Its sour taste is used to prepare traditional Asian dishes and curry powder, so it is, therefore, an important ingredient in Thai, Indian, and Indonesian cuisines.
A Peculiar Fruit
Years ago, it was discovered that the extract from the dried skin of the Garcinia Cambogia contained significant amounts of Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA). HCA is similar to other acids, however, it can also limit the conversion of carbohydrates into fat. According to studies done in rats, the Garcinia Cambogia Extract (GCE) inhibits the enzyme citrate lyase, which transforms citrates into fatty acids and cholesterol, meaning it makes it more difficult for the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates. GCE also reduces appetite by increasing serotonin levels; low serotonin levels are associated with depression and emotional or responsive eating, so this also helps lead to weight loss.
Popularity and Marketing
The Garcinia Cambogia Extract boomed after a popular TV host and doctor presented it as a “safe and instant supplement” to aid in weight loss. It was referred to as the “Holy Grail of weight loss” with the magical promise of losing fat with “No exercise, no diet, and no effort.” GCE offered as miracle promise: lose weight by taking the extract of an exotic fruit that prevents fat conversion and stops your cravings.
The pills of the “newest fastest fat buster” invaded TV, radio, and the internet; with brands claiming that Garcinia Cambogia Extract
“Decreases belly fat, suppresses appetite, controls emotional eating, and changes body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. It doesn’t just produce weight loss, but it improves overall health. It decreases cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides by 10 – 30% and raises levels of the “good cholesterol” HDL.”
GCE appears to be safe as reported side effects are minor, including headache, nausea, stomachache, and diarrhea. However, it may react with other medications so ask your Doctor whether it is safe to use GCE. GCE is not recommended for people with Alzheimer, diabetes, dementia, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those who may become pregnant.
Too Good to Be True?
Before believing that we could be near the weight loss panacea, consider what the latest findings suggest and what the regulations are for this kind of supplement.
In further studies, Garcinia Cambogia Extract was tested in controlled human trials. The overweight participants were randomly divided into a test group and a control group. the test group took GCE pills three times a day, while the control group took placebo pills three times a day. Both groups followed a low calorie and high fiber diet.
Results from all the studies were weak and inconsistent; some studies showed a small amount of weight loss by the test group, while majority showed no statistically significant differences between test and control groups.
Based on these studies, the Garcinia Cambogia Extract may work but it not the magical solution to weight loss since it failed to produce significant weight and fat loss beyond what was observed with the placebo.
Don’t always believe the hype!
It is important to take into consideration that the U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate, study, or approve over-the-counter dietary supplements before they go on the market. In the FDA words, “Dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products. It is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and that any claims made about such products are true.”
This means that even if a supplement is sold in a store, pharmacy, or supermarket, it does not mean it is safe. Furthermore, as long as the product has a disclaimer that the FDA hasn’t evaluated the statements, products can make unsupported claims. The FDA will investigate and take measures to have these products removed from the market only if safety issues are suspected and justified.
It is key to check FDA recommendations and be aware of the fraud. If you are considering taking a nutritional supplement or if you already do so, the FDA suggests:
First, check with your doctor, health care professional, or a registered dietician on any nutrients you may need in addition to your regular diet.
- Always ask yourself: Does it sounds too good to be true?
- Be careful if the claims of the product seem exaggerated or unrealistic.
- Take caution with the products that claim “natural”, natural doesn’t mean safe.
- Pay special attention when products make extreme claims, such as “fast and effective,” “totally safe,” or “cure-all”.
- Be skeptical about anecdotal information from personal “testimonials” about incredible benefits or results obtained from using a product.
- Ask a professional for help distinguishing between reliable and questionable information.
So, dear readers, the magic potion hasn’t been found yet. While it may exist one day, in the meanwhile let’s start by trying the ancient, natural and proven method of staying in shape: eat a varied and moderate diet and exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes per day. If you need to eliminate fat and excess body weight, it is recommended to follow a diet under your doctor’s supervision.