Here’s a thought–and frankly, I haven’t been following the hoodia craze, so it never occurred to me: hoodia to reduce craving. A woman emailed me recently asking if anyone I knew had tried it. She’s not able to get an Rx from her doc for the meds but is intrigued with accounts she’s read about Topamax and its piggy back weight loss side effect. She said she’d planned to purchase the CDs and supps and was committed to undertaking all aspects of the program. She wanted to know if she could take hoodia instead of Topamax along with the recommended MWO supps, as she’s desperate to lose weight along with her craving. She wondered if hoodia might help.
I have to admit, my industrial strength spam detector is incapable of holding the flood of messages about hoodia at bay, so I’ve always associated it with garbage. But it got me thinking that maybe I hadn’t given the supplement a fair shake. So I looked around a bit. Always start with the scholarly schtuff and was surprised to quickly learn that a controlled, double blind study had been published about its efficacy. And the results looked pretty good, though I haven’t run it by the official team here. However, from what I read, the data was so compelling, that much like kudzu, it attracted the interest of a large pharmaceutical company who hoped to turn it into a blockbuster. (Pfizer, but they ultimately dropped it when they learned they couldn’t reproduce the killer chemical in a lab.)
Hoodia, or hoodia gordonii to be specific, is derived from a South African succulent and it’s become one of the hottest selling weight loss products around. Although there are 20 types of hoodia, only the hoodia gordonii variety contains the natural appetite suppressant. The hoodia plant has been used for thousands of years by the Sans Bushmen tribe of the Kalahari Desert to suppress appetite in times of long hunting trips or hardship.
There are no reported side effects of hoodia, but that’s not necessarily true of products that aren’t 100% pure or don’t contain the specific chemical known to reduce appetite. Same thing goes for effectiveness–for example, varieties grown in different regions under other conditions don’t work nearly as well.
So how do you find the real deal?
A non-profit South African based company claims that 75% of hoodia products are fake, and they are dedicated to providing chemical analysis, along with potency reports on popular brands. They see what’s coming and don’t want the public falling victim to a flood of phony hoodia claims. They know their farmers have much invested–it takes several years to cultivate the real thing. According to the website, this company has spot checked a number of products, but admit they haven’t been able to do broad testing because of cost. Linked from their site is a “Hall of Pride”, “Hall of Shame” and invitation for manufacturers to join their program. I don’t know what their standards are but on first blush I was surprised to see a GNC label listed among others in Shame Hall. They provide data sheets with URLs to the limited products they’ve approved, which include Desert Burn, Ethno Africa, and King Hoodia. Maybe you need an ethnic/macho name to pass?
Then there’s Phytopharm, the company that actually gained rights to the appetite suppressing mystery molecule, P.57. They’ve tied up most of the hoodia gordonii market in a deal with the South African government, but as I understand, other companies are still able to legally provide it. It’s sorta complicated and we’re sure to be reading lawsuits about it in the near future.
Phytopharm spent about $20 million in research, which included human and animal studies. Their partner, Uniliver,(owner of Slimfast) plans to launch meal-replacement products in 2008 which contain the proprietary hunger suppressing agent in hoodia gordonii, P.57.
So back to the nice lady’s question. Should she take it? Will it work?
To be honest, I can’t really say–there’s certainly no research linking hoodia’s qualities to those that addiction specialists now know block opiate receptors or enhance/calm neurotransmitter activity. As I understand, hoodia imitates the effect of glucose on the brain. It simply makes you feel full. For a long time.
My gut tells me it will help with appetite; won’t help with alcohol. I hope I’m wrong. It’d be nice, anecdotally, anyway, if we could have asked those San Bushmen of the Kalahari if they felt less like partying after chewing on their day’s ration.
And unlike some of the supplements I’ve seen people pile onto our program, at least this one doesn’t seem a very reckless choice. As I’ve stated ad nauseum, I’m always concerned about the “more is better” philosophy because many people don’t fess up to their doc about their involvement in the MWO program, or are taking anti-depressants which may be contra-indicated with certain nutritional supplements, or have specific health conditions that have to be considered, or….
Overall, I guess this stuff looks pretty safe. I suppose the biggest issue would be for someone who’d be at risk for skipping meals.
This is NOT an official recommendation. To be honest, I find that often people ask me for advice and then go [fill in the blank] anyway.
So the important thing, I suppose, if our new MWO’er decides to [fill in the blank] is that she buys a high quality product, drinks tons of water when taking the supplement (hoodia reduces your thirst along with your hunger), and eats well balanced, healthy meals, even if she doesn’t feel hungry. Thin Topa folks have been there, done that. She should also eliminate sugar while force feeding herself.
And talk to the doc, talk to the doc, talk to the doc. Not sure hers will go for hoodia if s/he’s no fan of anti-craving meds in general. Hoodia schmoodia and all that. Maybe our friend will refer to the message below in finding someone to help out.
Have to admit, I can’t blame a girl for trying…I remember how wonderfully motivated I felt to keep up the good work after watching those numbers on the scale drop consistently each week.
I tell ya, I get the most interesting mail. I am rooting for her.