Since the late 1990’s Garcinia Cambogia has been included in various weight loss products, but exploded in popularity in 2012 when Dr Julie Chen talked about it on the Dr Oz TV show.
Unfortunately, there is an avalanche of faulty information about Garcinia Cambogia on the web that we attempt to clean up below.
WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS
We looked at all the randomized, double-blind clinical studies on humans. Some we excluded were either too short (2 weeks), used too small a dose, or had other flaws such as a low fat, high carb diet which researchers believe had a negative impact on the results.
All of these were Double Blind,Randomized Controlled Trials, with subjects given Garcinia Cambogia or Placebo over 8-12 weeks.
The average for these 4 studies was 4.1 pounds lost vs 1.7 for those taking Placebo.
It should be noted that studies #3 and 4 used the highest dosages of 2800 mg daily, and showed the greatest amount of weight loss compared to placebo.
Studies #1 and 2 showed the least amount of weight loss benefit, and also used the lowest amount of Garcinia Cambogia, at 1200 mg per day.
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HATE GARCINIA CAMBOGIA
According to this article in Washington Post, it cost between $800 million and $2.6 BILLION to bring a new prescription drug to market.
Once they start clinical trials, the pharmaceutical company only has 20 years of patent protection to recoup that cost, so they have to charge exorbitant prices to make that back and pay their shareholders a good return on their investment.
Of course they don’t want potential customers to think a natural product that cost a tiny fraction of what they charge can be effective at all.
Hence pharmaceutical manufacturers often fund research studies they hope will cast the competition in a bad light. A few million dollars to fund a study on a competitor is nothing compared to the billions it cost to develop a drug.
For example, this meta-review that examines existing clinical studies on Garcinia Cambogia is funded by GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the prescription weight loss pill Orlistat, marketed under the name Alli.
For reference, Alli cost $60 for 120 capsules! The literature claims it can block 25% of the fat you eat from being absorbed.
Not surprisingly, the research they pay for often finds mixed results, with some studies showing positive effects for Garcinia Cambogia and some not.
The academic editor for that meta review was also the lead author for a few of the studies that found Garcinia to be ineffective. He also was the lead author for several studies that showed positive results for Orlistat (1,2,3).
HOW DOES IT HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?
Garcinia Cambogia is somewhat unique in that there are 2 pathways the HCA utilizes to help with weight loss
1. It May Help Reduce Hunger
Serotonin is the “feel good” hormone that promotes feelings of satisfaction and is well known to be an appetite suppressant. (20).
Those studies are in contrast to some others that found no benefit for suppressing appetite vs those given placebo. (21, 22, 23, 24). Its not clear why studies have shown such a difference and more study is needed.
Conclusion: Some studies have shown garcinia cambogia increases serotonin to suppress appetite, but there have been other studies that could not replicate this effect.
2. It May Block Fat Production and Reduce Belly Fat
The effect HCA has on fatty acids in the bloodstream is the most important factor in its ability to aid weight loss.
It is even more attractive as a weight loss aid as it helps reduce belly. (29).
Another study gave moderately obese individuals 2,800 mg of garcinia cambogia daily for eight weeks (30).
After completion, participants had dramatically lower markers of metabolic disease such as:
- 6.3% LOWER Total cholesterol levels
- 12.3% LOWER LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol levels
- 10.7% HIGHER HDL (the “good”) cholesterol levels
- 8.6% LOWER Blood triglycerides
By inhibiting citrate lyase, garcinia cambogia is thought to slow down or block fat production in the body. This may reduce blood fats and lower the risk of weight gain, two major disease risk factors (37).
Conclusion: Garcinia cambogia blocks the production of new fats in the body, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and blood triglycerides in overweight people.
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS
- Decreasing insulin levels
- Decreasing leptin levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving blood sugar control
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
Garcinia cambogia may also have benefits for the digestive system. Animal studies have suggested it helps protect against stomach ulcers and reduce damage to the inner lining of the digestive tract (41, 42).
However, these effects need to be studied further before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Conclusion:Garcinia Cambogia may help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity to combat diabetes
Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)
Garcinia Cambogia is recognized as GRAS by the FDA, meaning it has “been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use”.
There have been several studies to test the effectiveness of these products and in these controlled quantities there were no significant side effects.
This meta-analysis examined all published research on Garcinia Cambogia, and found garcinia to be free from any major side effects when taken at dosages up to 2800 mgs per day (with 60% HCA)
WHO SHOULD NOT TAKE GARCINIA CAMBOGIA
It IS safe for most people. But there are a few cases where you wouldn’t want to take it:
- Alzheimers or dementia
Garcinia Cambogia boosts serotonin levels in the brain (which triggers the satisfied, full feeling that helps suppress appetite).
For this reason, it is not advised for patients with neurological disorders such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, or other forms of dementia.
DOSAGE AND WHEN TO TAKE IT
Dr Harry Preuss is a researcher and pathologist at Georgetown University past president of the American College of Nutrition who has led 2 of the studies on HCA that showed the best results (43,44) He says:
“YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE RIGHT DOSE OF THE RIGHT PRODUCT, AND YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT PROPERLY.”
The 4 studies that were included in the meta-analysis referenced above noted that 1 to 2.8 grams daily were used in testing, and that 2.8 grams seemed more effective (45)
Different studies that have been performed to focus on side effects found no major side effects at dosages up to 2.8 grams daily (46).
Dosage recommendations from those studies are:
- 500 to 1000mg capsules
- 70% or higher HCA
- 3 times a day
- 30-60 minutes before meals
- taken with 8 ounces of water
70% HCA means that the manufacturer has standardized the extract to be 70% Hydroxycitric Acid by volume.
50-60% was the highest purity commercially available until recently, so has been the standard used for testing.
The higher percentage provides more total HCA per capsule, but is not more effective otherwise.
In other words, the higher HCA % is not “better”, you just need less of it.
For proper dosage, you should lower the quantity if you use a product with HCA % higher than the 60% used in studies.
For example, the maximum recommended dosage of 3 grams per day of a 60% HCA product would yield 1800 mg of pure HCA – the same as 2 grams of 90% HCA.
3,000 mg x 60% HCA = 1800mg pure HCA
2,000 mg x 90% HCA = 1800mg pure HCA
BUYING ON AMAZON – BEWARE THE SCAMS
With any popular diet product, there are lots of scams that sell crappy product at ridiculous prices, and some that disappear with your money.
You might want to review some guidelines by the FTC in spotting the crooks.
It is becoming more common now with Garcinia, so beware, and read some of our reviews of brands like Ultra, Extreme, Purely Inspired, Miracle, Whole Body, Natural, and Pure Garcinia Cambogia.
Amazon is super convenient, and great at making sure you get what you order. But they don’t do anything to ensure the quality of a product.
Any brand that just popped up yesterday and will be gone tomorrow is NOT concerned with quality.
DR OZ WARNS ABOUT FAKE PRODUCTS
There are now dozens of new “Brands” of Garcinia Cambogia sold on Amazon that just make up a name and throw a label on some garbage product. And, they LIE about what is in the bottle!
The following quote is directly from the Dr Oz website where they warn about such deceptive marketing.
This doesn’t mean all products sold on Amazon are bad. It just warns that products sold ONLY on Amazon are a much higher risk for being very poor quality.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
For Weight Loss, we are convinced that:
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can greatly increase your metabolism to make weight loss easier and faster.
As for Garcinia Cambogia, the evidence shows that:
- Garcinia Cambogia is NOT A MAGIC PILL that will melt the fat off
- Garcinia Cambogia CAN HELP you lose a few more pounds a month