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Quick and easy fixes to aid weight loss have been of the public interest for many years. It is the topic of many news segments and you may have found yourself inundated with ads not only online but in commercials on your TV, radio, or streaming device.
Supplements fill store shelves to an overwhelming degree with claims that make it difficult to decipher what is reliable and effective.
Many of these supplements and formulas have similar compounds and extracts, such as two well-known weight loss formulas like CitriMax and Hydroxycut. One of the most commonly used compounds in these formulas is Garcinia Cambogia.
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
It goes by many names, such as:
- Malabar tamarind
- Brindle berry
- Red mango
- Pot tamarind
- Kokum butter oil tree
- Garcinia gummi-gutta
The size of the fruit grown typically resembles that of a tomato, but it can also grow to the size of a grapefruit as well.
Garcinia has been used for centuries for culinary purposes as a condiment and flavoring agent in place of tamarind or lemon, and to make meals more filling.
You can most commonly find the rind of the fruit in curries, more specifically fish curries. The rind of the fruit is very sour and often pickled and used as a condiment.
Garcinia extract has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic medical system for many years in the treatment of intestinal worms and other parasites, for bilious digestive conditions, for dysentery, rheumatism, and in the treatment of tumors.
Garcinia Cambogia extract has also been used by people for diabetes, cancer, ulcers, pains, heart complaints, diarrhea, and constipation. The biggest claim that has also been the most researched is that Garcinia Cambogia may help speed up weight loss and reduce appetite.
What Does the Research Regarding Garcinia Cambogia and Weight Loss and Appetite Reduction Say?
Hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a compound found in large quantities in the rind of Garcinia Cambogia, is a derivative of citric acid and can be marketed alone as a weight loss supplement or in combination with other supplements. It can be found in the weight loss formulas previously mentioned, CitriMax and Hydroxycut.
Since HCA is similar in structure to citric acid, it can disrupt fatty acid synthesis in your body by blocking an enzyme that converts carbohydrates into body fat.
Therefore, the body is prevented from making and storing fat. In fact, in human studies, oral intake of HCA increased the body’s ability to break down fat when accompanied by moderate intensity exercise.
Another way that Garcinia Cambogia is thought to aid weight loss is through appetite suppression and increasing satiety, or fullness. However, the mechanism is not fully known, but animal studies suggest that HCA can increase the release or availability of serotonin in the brain and therefore lead to appetite suppression.
Definitive conclusions that Garcinia Cambogia/HCA supplements are efficient tools against obesity and other various health problems remains to be proven in larger-scale and longer-term clinical trials.
It has also been difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of Garcinia Cambogia as a weight-loss supplement as it is typically found in supplements containing several active ingredients, and therefore it cannot be directly pinpointed.
Other Possible Health Benefits from Garcinia Cambogia
Research studies suggest that Garcinia Cambogia could have some anti-diabetes effects, such as:
- Decreasing insulin levels
- Decreasing leptin levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving blood sugar control
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
Garcinia Cambogia may also boost the digestive system, protect against ulcers and reduce damage to the inner lining of the digestive tract.
Garcinia Cambogia is thought to produce cholesterol-lowering capabilities as some people have suggested HCA extract causes carbohydrates to be converted into glycogen instead of fat, disrupting the production of triglycerides, the bad cholesterol.
What are the Side Effects, Dosage Recommendations, and Considerations?
As with anything that is ingested or coming in contact with the body, some people may develop side effects, and therefore consulting with your doctor is recommended.
Some of the possible, milder side effects that have been recorded include:
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes
More serious side effects may include serotonin toxicity, especially if taking Garcinia Cambogia with antidepressant medications, and liver damage (and possibly liver failure) in certain individuals.
Consult with your doctor before taking Garcinia Cambogia or supplements with HCA to ensure the highest safety. People with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia should not take Garcinia Cambogia because it increases acetylcholine levels in the brain.
People with diabetes should be cautious when using this supplement, as Garcinia Cambogia/HCA has been known to lower blood sugar levels.
It is not known if Garcinia Cambogia is safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so it is best to discontinue the use of the supplement during these times.
Be cautious if taking other nutritional supplements or medications as Garcinia Cambogia has not been extensively studied for interactions, however, it may interfere with:
- Montelukast (Singulair)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
It is not recommended to consume more than 3,000 mg of HCA in a 24-hour period. The exact dosage for individuals may vary from person to person due to the different variables, circumstances, and needs of each individual.
Garcinia Cambogia is available in capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids. The capsules should be taken on an empty stomach, 30 minutes to one hour before a meal.
It is important to acknowledge that supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and so there is no guarantee that the actual content of HCA in the supplements will match the HCA content on the label, and therefore buying from a reputable manufacturer is important.
While Garcinia Cambogia has been used in different parts of the world for culinary purposes as well as treatment for various illnesses, it has been in the limelight for weight loss and appetite reduction and added to several weight loss supplements.
However, results have been inconclusive regarding its effectiveness. There is no convincing evidence that Garcinia Cambogia will help you lose weight or control cholesterol and more reliable human studies are needed.
As with most supplements and nutrients, effectiveness varies based on each individual, and if you are considering taking Garcinia Cambogia make sure to consult with your doctor beforehand and buy from a reputable brand that contains at least 50% HCA.
While supplements such as Garcinia Cambogia may seem like an easier approach to weight loss, whole foods, diet, and exercise have been shown to be the most effective methods regarding long-term weight loss results.
Speak with your doctor or even a Registered Dietitian to find the best method that works for your individual needs.
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