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Garcinia Cambogia

What Should I Know About It?

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Updated December 05, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Garcinia cambogia is a fruit that grows in India, Southeast Asia, and some regions of Africa. Long used in herbal medicine, garcinia cambogia is thought to offer a variety of health benefits.

A number of studies have shown that garcinia cambogia contains compounds with antioxidant effects. In addition, garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid (a substance often touted as a natural weight loss aid).

Uses for Garcinia Cambogia

When used as a weight loss aid, garcinia cambogia is said to suppress appetite, boost metabolism, prevent fat buildup, and reduce abdominal fat.

In addition, garcinia cambogia is said to protect against the following health problems:

Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia

To date, research on the health effects of garcinia cambogia is fairly limited. However, there's some evidence that garcinia cambogia may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies:

1) Weight Loss

There is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of supplements containing garcinia cambogia as a weight loss aid. However, several preliminary studies indicate that garcinia cambogia may help protect against obesity.

In a 2005 study from Food and Chemical Toxicology, for instance, garcinia cambogia was found to fight the buildup of body fat in rats. In addition, a 2008 study from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that garcinia cambogia helped reduce the buildup of visceral fat in mice. (A type of fat located in the abdominal cavity, visceral fat may reduce risk of major health issues like heart disease and diabetes when it occurs in excess.)

2) High Cholesterol

In a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008, scientists determined that using garcinia cambogia in combination with glucomannan may help lower cholesterol levels in obese people.

For the study, 58 obese people took either a placebo or a combination of garcinia cambogia and glucomannan for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, members of the treatment group had experienced a significantly greater reduction in cholesterol levels (compared to members of the placebo group).

It's unknown whether garcinia cambogia on its own can help reduce cholesterol. It's also important to note that the combination of garcinia cambogia and glucomannan failed to reduce body weight in study participants.

3) Diabetes

Preliminary research suggests that garcinia cambogia may aid in diabetes control. In a 2003 study published in Fitoterapia, for example, tests on mice revealed that garcinia cambogia may help improve blood sugar metabolism.

4) Ulcers

Garcinia cambogia may help treat ulcers, according to an animal-based study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2002. In tests on rats, scientists discovered that garcinia cambogia might help alleviate ulcer symptoms by reducing acidity in the stomach.

Safety

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of garcinia cambogia. However, there's some concern that garcinia cambogia may trigger a number of side effects, including stomach upset, nausea, and headache.

Alternatives to Garcinia Cambogia

Some studies suggest that other natural remedies may help promote weight loss. For instance, there's some evidence that drinking green tea and maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Research also indicates that practicing mind-body techniques like yoga, meditation, and tai chi may support your weight loss efforts as well.

Where to Find Garcinia Cambogia

Widely available for purchase online, supplements containing garcinia cambogia are sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Hayamizu K, Hirakawa H, Oikawa D, Nakanishi T, Takagi T, Tachibana T, Furuse M. "Effect of Garcinia cambogia extract on serum leptin and insulin in mice." Fitoterapia. 2003 Apr;74(3):267-73.

Kim KY, Lee HN, Kim YJ, Park T. "Garcinia cambogia extract ameliorates visceral adiposity in C57BL/6J mice fed on a high-fat diet." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jul;72(7):1772-80.

Mahendran P, Vanisree AJ, Shyamala Devi CS. "The antiulcer activity of Garcinia cambogia extract against indomethacin-induced gastric ulcer in rats." Phytother Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):80-3.

Márquez F, Babio N, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. " Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of hydroxycitric acid or Garcinia cambogia extracts in humans." Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(7):585-94.

Oluyemi KA, Omotuyi IO, Jimoh OR, Adesanya OA, Saalu CL, Josiah SJ. "Erythropoietic and anti-obesity effects of Garcinia cambogia (bitter kola) in Wistar rats." Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 2007 Jan;46(Pt 1):69-72.

Saito M, Ueno M, Ogino S, Kubo K, Nagata J, Takeuchi M. "High dose of Garcinia cambogia is effective in suppressing fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats, but highly toxic to the testis." Food Chem Toxicol. 2005 Mar;43(3):411-9.

Vasques CA, Rossetto S, Halmenschlager G, Linden R, Heckler E, Fernandez MS, Alonso JL. "Evaluation of the pharmacotherapeutic efficacy of Garcinia cambogia plus Amorphophallus konjac for the treatment of obesity." Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1135-40.

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