It seems that every week the media “discovers” another weight loss miracle. This week, it’s garcinia cambogia, or simply “garcinia.” Dr. Oz is praising it as a “miracle” and there are no shortage of ads and news features touting it as the “wonder herb” for weight loss. But does it really work, and is it safe? What is the “real” story on garcinia?
First, what is garcinia? Garcinia is an herbal supplement that’s extracted from the fruit of the Malabar Tamarind plant found in Southeast Asia. The active ingredient is Hydroxycitric Acid, or HCA. HCA is the claimed “fat blocker” in garcinia. It is thought to prevent your body from turning carbs and sugars into fat, and slow down the storage of the fat that your body does produce.
Does it work? Here is where things get a bit tricky. The Journal of Obesity recently conducted a meta-analysis of garcinia studies (a meta-study compares the results of other studies to see if there are any consistent, repeatable findings). They found that there was only a very slight difference in weight loss between the groups using garcinia and the control groups that didn’t use it.
LiveScience.com also reviewed several studies and found that there was very little evidence that garcinia actually worked. They site a 2005 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology that found some weight loss in obese rats, and a 2013 study published in the journal Complementary Theories in Medicine that found no convincing evidence that garcinia accelerated weight loss in humans.
Is it safe? This is tricky too. Many sources claim that garcinia is completely safe, but often, these same sites are selling the product, so they have a financial incentive in convincing you not to worry. We recommend that, if you want to do your own research, you avoid any site that sells the product they are reviewing. You should trust only reputable, impartial sources.
One trusted source, WebMD.com, lists the side effects as nausea, digestive tract discomfort, and headache. They suggests that garcinia is safe, but only when used for 12 weeks or less. You have to ask why isn’t it safe for longer useage.
According to Healthline.com, garcinia has also been associated with lower blood sugar levels, which is an issue for anyone diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. It is also associated with muscle degeneration, and it may increase dementia symptoms in Alzheimer patients.
The bottom line is that, like many herbal remedies, we just don’t know enough at this point to say whether or not garcinia is completely safe. There haven’t been any long-term clinical studies done yet, only a few short-term studies, and repeatable results are hard to find.
Conclusions: The overwhelming evidence suggests that garcinia is not the miracle that many people claim it is, and that there are side effects, so use caution. One other caution: One source mentioned that some manufacturers are supplying garcinia that has been diluted with other substances and that can increase the risks. This source stated that pure garcinia should cost at least $40-$50 for a 30 day supply, and that if you see sources with lower prices, you should be cautious.
As we have said before, the best way to lose weight is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and lean proteins, and to exercise regularly. There are no side-effects with this approach, except more energy, clearing thinking and better health. This approach is also guaranteed to work!
To find out more about how you can reach your natural, healthy weight without relying on supplements like garcinia, check out our Eat Great, Live Well Program. What have you got to lose – other than bad habits, excess weight, low self-esteem, and fad dieting?
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?