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Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss?

July 4, 2013 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

A few nights ago, I was on Twitter answering some questions, when I was besieged by an onslaught of tweets promoting Garcinia cambogia, a southeastern Asian fruit extract, as a potent weight loss agent. Rather than blow off these messages as commonplace “spam”, I decided to investigate. To be clear, I already knew all about Garcinia C. After all, it’s been on the US market as a dietary supplement for over 15 years. As far as I was concerned, it had come and gone with little fanfare like most other supplements of its kind. But, I wondered if perhaps there was some new, exciting evidence that was spurring this current buzz.

It didn’t take long to uncover the genesis of this particular trend. In November 2012, Dr. Mehmet Oz featured a segment, entitled “The Newest, Fastest Fat-Buster”, which included testimonials by several physicians and researchers. According to Dr. Oz and his guests, Garcinia cambogia is pretty close to a perfect weight loss aid. It’s inexpensive, safe and validated in clinical trials. The problem I have with these claims is that they’re backed by inconsistent and questionable research. What’s more, there doesn’t appear to be any recent data to support these assertions at all.

My review of the scientific literature only turned up one study in the last five years examining the efficacy of Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss agent. The results of a 10 week trial, published in the September 2011 issue of Nutrition Journal, determined that Garcinia C. “supplementation failed to promote weight-loss or any clinically significant change in % body fat”. The second most recent study was published five years ago. In that experiment, weight loss wasn’t even evaluated. Rather, the 2008 trial investigated whether or not Garcinia C. altered sex hormones in overweight subjects. The results revealed that it didn’t. Interesting to know, but not relevant with regard to weight management. Finally, I took a look to see whether there were any ongoing or upcoming studies on Garcinia C. Not one!

In fairness, a previous 8 week study did report statistically significant weight loss (5.4%) in users of Garcinia cambogia. Additionally, several trials using herbal formulas featuring Garcinia C. have found varying degrees of potential with regard to raising metabolic rate and promoting weight loss. However, it’s not possible to specifically attribute these benefits to Garcinia cambogia because of the other ingredients used in the supplements such as caffeine, chromium and gluccomannan – a highly viscous fiber source. Therefore, my conclusion is that the preponderance of the evidence suggests that Garcinia C. is likely ineffective and doesn’t appear to address the primary, underlying contributors of obesity. That’s why I suggest you pass on this “old is new” diet craze.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Does Glycine Max leaves or Garcinia Cambogia Promote Weight-Loss (link)

Study 2 – Effects of Garcinia cambogia Extract on Serum Sex Hormones in (link)

Study 3 – An Overview of the Safety & Efficacy of a Novel, Natural(link)

Study 4 – Effects of (-)-Hydroxycitric Acid on Appetitive Variables (link)

Study 5 – Garcinia Cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) As a Potential Antiobesity Agent (link)

Study 6 – Evaluation of the Pharmacotherapeutic Efficacy of Garcinia (link)

Study 7 – Acute Effects of Ingesting Java Fit Energy Extreme Functional Coffee (link)

Study 8 – Effects on the Human Body of a Dietary Supplement Containing (link)

Study 9 – Efficacy of Slim 339 in Reducing Body Weight of Overweight and Obese (link)

Study 10 – Efficacy of 12 Weeks Supplementation of a Botanical Extract-Based (link)

Garcinia Cambogia Doesn’t Promote Weight Loss

Source: JAMA. 1998;280(18):1596-1600. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutritional Supplements

5 Comments & Updates to “Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss?”

  1. rob Says:

    Good job on breaking down the study, many studies are flawed. And Dr.Oz claims.of this and that being ‘miracle’ for whatever ails you is worrisome b/c folks seemingly believe everything he recommends.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Rob. My hope is that someone in Dr. Oz’s camp will find constructive criticism like this column and use it to improve their own content. IMO, doing so would benefit the viewers that Dr. Oz and his staff hope to help.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:


    J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Feb;9(2):BF01-4.

    Efficacy of garcinia cambogia on body weight, inflammation and glucose tolerance in high fat fed male wistar rats.

    INTRODUCTION: Obesity leads to derangements in lipid and glucose homeostasis resulting in various metabolic complications. Plants containing vital phytochemicals are known to posses anti obesity properties and have proved to exert beneficial effects in obesity.

    OBJECTIVES: The present study was aimed to investigate the effects of Garcinia Cambogia on body weight, glucose tolerance and inflammation in high fat diet fed male Wistar rats.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five month old male wistar rats (n=40) were divided into four groups. Two groups were fed with standard rodent diet and the remaining two with 30% high fat diet. One group in each of the two sets received the crude ethanolic extract of Garcinia Cambogia at a dose of 400mg/kg body weight/day for ten weeks. Body weight, intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test, leptin, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and renal function (urea, creatinine, uric acid) were studied.

    RESULTS: High fat diet fed rats showed increased body weight gain, glucose intolerance, elevated levels of plasma leptin and TNF-α. Supplementation of Garcinia Cambogia extract (GE) along with high fat diet significantly decreased body weight gain, glucose intolerance, plasma leptin and TNF-α level. No significant changes were observed in the renal function parameters in any of the groups.

    CONCLUSION: Supplementation of the Garcinia Cambogia extract with high fat diet reduced body weight gain, inflammation and glucose intolerance.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:


    Phytother Res. 2014 Oct;28(10):1520-6.

    IQP-GC-101 reduces body weight and body fat mass: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

    IQP-GC-101 is a patented blend of the standardized extracts of Garcinia cambogia, Camellia sinensis, unroasted Coffea arabica, and Lagerstroemia speciosa. These individual ingredients of IQP-GC-101 have each shown promise in promoting weight loss; however, the efficacy of the blend has not been established. This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel group study conducted over 14 weeks (including a 2-week run-in phase) aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of IQP-GC-101 in reducing body weight and body fat mass in overweight Caucasian adults. Subjects took three IQP-GC-101 or placebo tablets, twice a day, 30 min before main meals. All subjects also adhered to a 500 kcal/day energy deficit diet with 30% of energy from fat. Ninety-one overweight and mildly obese subjects (46 in the IQP-GC-101 group, 45 in the placebo group) completed the study. After 12-week intervention, IQP-GC-101 resulted in a mean (±SD) weight loss of 2.26 ± 2.37 kg compared with 0.56 ± 2.34 kg for placebo (pU  = 0.002). There was also significantly more reduction in body fat mass, waist circumference, and hip circumference in the IQP-GC-101 group. No serious adverse events were reported. The use of IQP-GC-101 has been shown to result in body weight and body fat reduction in the current study, with good tolerability.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 12/17/15:


    Nutr Hosp. 2015 Dec 1;32(n06):2400-2408.


    INTRODUCTION: Due to the significant increase in the obesity rate in recent years, public health has been facing in many countries of the world, one of the major problems caused by this disease. Because of this, natural products arise, herbal, to assist in the treatment of obesity due to their safer effects. Among these, stands out the extract obtained from dried fruits of Garcinia Cambogia (GC), which has been studied and used as a natural supplement for weight loss.

    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the GC administration as a coadjuvant factor in the treatment of obesity regarding to its effectiveness, way of action, recommended daily amount, side effects and contraindications, as a way of food and nutritional security for the population.

    METHODOLOGY: Literature review. There were consulted the database of LILACS-BIREME data, SciELO and MEDLINE and there were selected scientific articles published in English, Portuguese and Spanish, between the period of 2007 and 2014 that conducted studies involving the administration of the GC as a way of treatment for obesity. The descriptors used for research articles in the databases were the following: Garcinia Cambogia in Portuguese, and in English the terms used were “Garcinia Cambogia”, “weight loss and obesity”, and “Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)”; this last one is not a descriptor indexed in Decs, but given the importance of this term for the search, it was adopted as a keyword. Thirty-four articles were identified, but only 21 were related to the objectives of this study. The first analysis of the articles was conducted by the title and then by the summary. In addition, 17 references were included because of their relevance to the study.

    RESULTS: In some analyzed works, there was observed that the GC showed positive effects on weight loss process, appetite reduction, body fat percentage, triglycerides, cholesterol and glucose levels, lipogenesis process, while others had no effect.

    CONCLUSION: Studies suggest positive results about the effectiveness of the GC on the weight loss process. However, the ideal dosage has not been well established yet. There is little evidence of adverse effects and signs of protective effect against hepatotoxicity induced by ethanol. Therefore, it becomes necessary to carry out further studies to confirm the efficacy of this phytotherapy in the weight loss process.

    Be well!


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