Can Hoodia Help You Lose Weight?

by : klively

The name sounds like an article of clothing you wear in the winter time. In actuality, it is the current buzzword in the diet and weight loss industry, the next big thing companies are touting to entice dieters to buy their products. It is hoodia gordonii, hardly a new product, but one gaining new attention as the war against fat continues to rage.

Often when a diet product is given extensive news coverage, it is likely related to something negative. In recent year there have been reports on the health risks associated with various weight loss supplements that did little to burn fat but much to damage hearts and bank accounts. With hoodia, there is attention, but it is much different.

Oprah Winfrey, known for her decades long struggles with weight, offered an extensive, unbiased article on hoodia in her magazine, while respected news reporter Lesley Stahl actually sampled hoodia in its purest form for a segment on 60 Minutes. National and international media have given hoodia gordonii quite a bit of exposure, and while not everybody insists it is the magic bullet to weight loss, there is very little to say about hoodia that is negative.

What is hoodia, and how does it contribute to weight loss?

The scientific name is hoodia gordonii, but it is also known as African Hat, the Queen of the Namib, or Ghapp. Hoodia is a prickly plant and a member of the succulent group, so named for its ability to store water in its roots and thick stems. Because the hoodia plant is indigenous to the desert, the water stores help it to survive in the heat. Hoodia is native to South Africa, though it may also be found in other dry, arid areas.

The hoodia plant is characterized by its cactus-like appearance, greenish stalks covered in sharp points, and by the pinkish brown flowers that sometimes grow from the stalks. However, it is the actual plant that is prized by the African people as a source of dietary aid. Cut away the spikes and dig into the flesh of the plant, and you have the prime ingredient for a powerful appetite suppressant.

So how does the hoodia plant control the urge to overeat? It is believed that the plant is the key resource for a molecule that overrides the nerves cells that detect increased blood sugar in the system. When a person eats, the blood sugar level is raised. When these nerve cells have detected enough sugar, they tell the brain that you are full. It is often said that is takes the brain approximately twenty minutes to tell the body that it is full, which is why it is recommended to eat slowly.

Taking hoodia internally is believe to expedite this process. With the molecules in hoodia powerful enough to encourage the brain to detect fullness sooner, the person by theory eats less.

It is believed the dietary benefits to taking hoodia were discovered in Africa, by people who had originally used the plant for other medicinal purposes. Noting that animals who ate the plant could work longer without eating so much, these same people determined the plant could work as an appetite suppressant. As noted by the many news reports done on hoodia since, ingesting the plant can lead a person to desire less food and in turn lose weight.

Is hoodia safe? While more intense scientific study has revealed that it is not entirely conclusive that hoodia works for everybody as a diet supplement, no major side effects are reported either. On the other side of the coin, informal tests of hoodia in extracted form have revealed loss of appetite in some subjects.

People interested in trying hoodia gordonii as a means of losing weight are encouraged to get all the facts before taking the supplement. Recent times have shown hundreds of companies selling hoodia products, from diet bars to pills to drinks, yet there is a chance not every product contains hoodia in its purest form. Research companies and labels and find out what is in the supplement before you buy it. You may find some diet pills have added ingredients you cannot have.

As with taking any diet supplement, too, know that a supplement is just that. It is an aid, not the only key to safe, effective weight loss. Combined with a good eating regimen and exercise, a supplement can help boost your weight loss if taken correctly. In this environment, perhaps hoodia could be effective.