Losing weight is hard. It’s no wonder, then, that people are constantly searching for a new food, workout or supplement that can give some real, practical assistance when it comes to dropping a few pounds. When a supplement does show some promise, it’s not unusual for it to skyrocket in popularity, especially when it receives a celebrity endorsement.
This is exactly what happened in the case of garcina cambogia.
What Is It and What Does It Do?
Garcina cambogia, more commonly known as tamarind, is by no means some new discovery. The southeast Asian fruit has a long history of use in cooking and traditional medicine.
Specifically, though, a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) that can be extracted from the rind of the tamarind has been the target of the media spotlight. Despite it’s role in traditional medicine, it was the famed Dr. Oz, who called the supplement a “magic” weight loss aid that drove up sales.
Oz and other supporters of HCA have claimed that the compound acts as an appetite suppressant and affects the way your body stores fat. According to Dr. Oz, HCA blocks the enzyme citrate lyase from turning excess carbohydrates in your diet into fat.
Despite its touted miraculous weight loss benefits, supporters of HCA are careful to note that diet and exercise are still necessary to achieve last weight loss. They also promote self-imposed portion control.
Following its success in animal studies and test tube studies demonstrating its fat-blocking effects, HCA quickly progressed to human trials for weight loss. Unfortunately, these studies have produced mixed, and sometimes frightening, results. As is often the case when looking at contradictory studies, an analysis of all the body of research can be a powerful tool.
Helpfully, a 2010 review published in the Journal of Obesity offers such an analysis. The researchers found that, overall, there exists proof that HCA can provide a very small weight loss effect in the short term. The full weight loss effects of taking the supplement over long periods of time is unknown.
Of greater importance than the modest weight loss benefits, though, is the significant risk associated with HCA. While tamarind has been eaten and taken medicinally for many years, ingesting a food containing a chemical occasionally is very different from taking a concentrated extract of that chemical every day. Since the full long-term effects of HCA need to be studies more fully, it’s recommended that you take this supplement with caution and only after discussing it with your doctor.
Also, due to a lack of research the recommended and safe dosage of HCA has no been established yet. Studies do suggest that the appropriate dosage depends on your age, health and any pre-existing conditions.
Severe cases of hepatoxicity, or chemically-induced liver damage, have been linked with HCA supplements. Several weight loss aids featuring the chemical have been forcefully taken off the market by the FDA due to these safety concerns and many experts point to HCA as proof that a stricter approach to supplements in general is needed.
Have you taken HCA supplements? Please share your experience in the comments.