Posted: Sep 9, 2013
I’m often asked about various supplements and whether or not they are worth taking. So I’ve decided to post my responses via posts entitled “Should you take…” The information I present will be evidence-based and will hopefully prevent people from buying products they don’t need and could potentially harm them.
Up first: Garcinia Cambogia (also known as Gambooge, Pazham Puzhi, Bitter Kola, Malabar tamarind, (-)-Hydroxycitric acid, HCA, Hydroxycitric acid, Brindal Berry, Gorikapuli and is the main ingredient in the product Hydroxycut).
A client recently asked if they should take this to help optimize blood sugar control after hearing about it on a popular medical show. Since I didn’t know off the top of my head, I reviewed the evidence. Garcinia Cambogia is a small fruit that is most commonly used to make food taste better. It is also touted to help with weight loss, as a way to reduce appetite, help control blood lipids, as well as affect levels of estrogen and testosterone. As far as blood sugar goes, a study of 35 participants showed that when taken with another supplement (L-carnitine) a 4% increase in blood sugar and cholesterol was observed. This is a very small number of subjects making it difficult to extrapolate the results to the general population. In addition, we don’t know whether it was the garcinia cambogia, the L-carnitine or a combination of both that yielded the results. There is also no evidence that it helps manage blood lipids or levels of estrogen and testosterone. And while studies involving rats have shown promising results for both weight reduction and appetite cessation, the results have yet to be replicated in humans as we’re different from rats in many ways including how we produce fat. In addition, humans can drop out of a study before any measurable effects (e.g. on appetite) are seen, while rats can be studied indefinitely. They can continually be fed a supplement at any dose for any length of time whereby a human may feel ill and request to be removed from the research.
So, should you take Garcinia Cambogia? Evidence to date suggests that it’s nothing more than a waste of money (unless you’re a rat).