Written by Lisa Allen, MD
Garcinia Cambogia (also known as Malabar Tamarind) is a supplement that’s gotten a huge amount of attention lately about it’s supposed weight loss enhancing properties.
But the hype can also outpace the science – and in some cases lead people to dangerous decisions.
So in this article, we’re going to answer two questions: does Garcinia Cambogia really help people lose weight? And more importantly: is Garcinia Cambogia safe?
Let’s start with the first question.
Does Garcinia Cambogia Help With Weight Loss?
The main idea behind the claim that Garcinia Cambogia helps you lose weight lies in an ingredient in the rind of Malabar Tamarind called hydroxycitric acid.
Simply put, hydroxycitric acid (or HCA) is thought to have a bunch of different effects in your body. Some studies have put forward support that HCA can help your body burn more fat. Other studies have taken a look at the interactions between HCA and your enzymes, and found that it inhibits an enzyme called citrate lyase, which your body uses to create fat cells and store fat.
Finally, HCA has been shown in some studies to raise the serotonin levels in your brain – which researchers hypothesize helps you feel less hungry and cuts down on your appetite.
Seems pretty open and shut, right? Looks like all the evidence is on one side saying that Garcinia Cambogia will help you with weight loss.
Unfortunately, the above effects that some researchers have found that HCA has on your body don’t necessarily translate into more weight lost in research studies.
The journal network JAMA has researched the effects of Garcinia Cambogia on weight loss, and found in a double blind study that there was no significant increase in fat burned or weight loss by subjects taking Garcinia Cambogia as opposed to subjects that were taking a placebo.
In addition, a review by researchers published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that there was no significant effect on appetite from Garcinia Cambogia. In other words – subjects who were taking Garcinia Cambogia did not feel more full or report any significant decrease in appetite.
However, the claim that HCA helps your body to burn more fat and stimulates your metabolism might have some merit. Some studies involving both humans and mice have found that the fat metabolism is stimulated and increased when taking HCA supplements.
So what does it all mean?
Well, one thing that’s clear is that more research needs to be done on Garcinia Cambogia and weight loss. There’s just not a clear answer either way at this point – and researchers are hard at work looking for more concrete evidence one way or the other.
One thing that’s really important is to look at claims about Garcinia Cambogia with a skeptical eye – especially if the person making the claims is the one who’s trying to sell Garcinia Cambogia to you. Odds are, the supplement has no chance of living up to many of the fantastical claims that people are making about it.
However, there are real effects that Garcinia Cambogia can have on your ability to lose weight and your body. If you want to figure out whether it can help you lose weight, one of the most effective things you can do is try it yourself and see what effect it has on you.
Of course, you need to talk to your doctor before starting any sort of supplement program to make sure it’s right for you.
And truth be told, the jury is still out on how safe Garcinia Cambogia is. Before you decide to try it or leave it on the shelf, let’s look at how safe (or unsafe) GarciniaCambogia has been found to be.
Is GarciniaCambogia Safe To Take?
Let’s start out with the list of known side effects for Garcinia Cambogia.
People who take Garcinia Cambogia as a supplement have experienced side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, headache, and upset stomach or diarrhea.
So right away – the common side effects of Garcinia Cambogia can be an unpleasant experience. But can they actually be dangerous?
Garcinia Cambogia can absolutely be dangerous to you if you’re taking any of the following medications regularly: blood thinners like Warfarin, diabetes medicine like insulin, anemia supplements like iron, any psychiatric prescription medications, statins that lower cholesterol, pain medication, or medications to deal with asthma or allergies like Accolate or Singulair.
These medications interact poorly with Garcinia Cambogia and put your health at risk. Talking to your doctor before starting a new supplement is always the right thing to do – and if you’re taking any of the above medications, your doctor should immediately tell you that Garcinia Cambogia is not right for you.
In addition, women who are pregnant or nursing should absolutely not take Garcinia Cambogia – nor should anyone who has had issues with their liver or kidneys.
Garcinia Cambogia was also contained in a weight loss drug that had to be pulled from the shelves in 2009 when some people experienced serious damage to their livers after taking it.
The truth is, more research and time is needed to discover whether Garcinia Cambogia is completely safe for your body. The vast majority of studies that looked at Garcinia Cambogia use lasted for just 12 weeks – so long term effects on your body are completely unknown at this time.
If you’re thinking about trying Garcinia Cambogia, make sure to always talk to your doctor first. You and your health care professional are in the best position to figure out whether something like Garcinia Cambogia is right for you – so rely on the person whose expertise is responsible for keeping you healthy and happy.
The only way to make a smart, informed decision is to talk to someone who can see all the different pieces of the puzzle – and your doctor is that person.