Dietary Supplements

Can garcinia cambogia (HCA) help me lose weight?

A Answers (3)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Adding garcinia cambogia to meals is considered to be effective in making meals more “filling.” In some villages in Malaysia, garcinia is used to make a soup that is eaten before meals for weight loss because of garcinia’s appetite-blocking abilities.

    This plant offers one of the least expensive herbal supplements on the market. The ingredient from the rind of the fruit could hasten your weight-loss efforts. The natural extract is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and researchers claim that HCA can double or triple one’s weight loss.
    With proper weight-loss efforts (dieting and exercising), the average person taking HCA lost an average of four pounds a month.
    Garcinia may also be great for emotional eaters. Those who participated in the study showed an increase in their serotonin levels; hence, it may also improve mood and sleeping patterns.
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  • AJanis Jibrin, MS, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Garcinia cambogia (G. cambogia) is a small fruit originating in Southeast Asia that has been used in that region for cooking and medical treatments for centuries. In recent years it’s been sold in the U.S. as a weight loss supplement, either as garcinia cambogia extract or hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is the substance considered to be its active ingredient.
    The buzz around these supplements got started when some studies found that HCA limits the amount of fat the body produces. It’s also been suggested that HCA suppresses appetite and food intake.  
    Unfortunately the research doesn’t conclusively support evidence that these supplements do what is claimed. Most, but not all, of the 15-odd studies conducted found that people taking it in either form lost more weight than those who took a placebo. (In some of the studies the subjects didn’t change their diets; in others, they cut calories and exercised.)
    But -- and it’s a big but -- most available research doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Some studies didn’t include enough people and the trials didn’t last long enough to tell whether or not the supplements were effective.  In others, the supplements were taken along with other weight loss ingredients, making it impossible to know which caused pounds to drop. The form of HCA taken wasn’t always specified.
    In two recent reviews of the research -- one from Rovira I Virgili University in Spain in 2012, the other from Australia’s Victoria University in 2013 -- the reviewers said that the results weren’t conclusive:  While they couldn’t state that the supplements don’t work, there’s not enough proof that they do.
    If you decide to give garcinia cambogia or HCA a try, is it safe? Again, not clear. Most studies didn’t report serious side effects.  A few cases of leg cramps, nausea, diarrhea, gas and menstrual disorders were reported, but nothing serious enough to remove subjects from the study.  
    The bottom line: Neither garcinia cambogia nor HCA is the proven magic pill that melts away fat. Until someone discovers it, eating a nutritious, portion-controlled diet and regular exercise is still the most effective way in which to drop unwanted pounds and keep them off.
  • AKeith Roach, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Although there has been much in the news about this plant, the studies done so far have not definitively proven the effectiveness of helping people lose weight. There is at least one report of a serious side effect (liver damage). There is no such thing as a miracle pill. Nonetheless, taking garcinia appears to be mostly safe and may help to lose weight in combination with a prudent diet and regular exercise.
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