Hoodia is a cactus-like plant that grows in the Kalahari desert in South Africa and Namibia. Advertising literature associated with hoodia claims that the herb has been used for thousands of years by the San people (commonly, though inappropriately, known as Bushmen) in order to stave off hunger and thirst during long desert treks. However, this statement has not been independently verified. Other sources state that the plant was used by the San rarely, and only as a food—in fact, as a disfavored food consumed only when better tasting food sources were not available.
What Is Hoodia Used for Today?
In approximately 2002, hoodia began to be heavily marketed as a supplement for weight-loss. However, there is no reliable evidence that it offers any benefit.
The manufacturer Phytopharm cites a double-blind, placebo-controlled study
evidence on hoodia is far too preliminary to be relied upon. One
The purported active ingredient of hoodia is a substance christened "P57." For a time, the drug company Pfizer investigated P57 as a possible weight-loss drug, but they ceased research in 2003.
1. MacLean, DB, Luo, LG. Increased ATP content/production in the hypothalamus may be a signal for energy-sensing of satiety: studies of the anorectic mechanism of a plant steroidal glycoside. Brain Research. 2004;1020:1-11
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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