Hoodia doesn't help weight loss
Johannesburg - A study has found that the indigenous plant-based diet supplement Hoodia gordonii causes a number of side effects and shows no significant weight loss effect.
"HgPE [gordonii purified extract] was less well tolerated than was the placebo and did not show any significant effects on energy intakes or body weights relative to the placebo," according to the findings, sourced from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Wednesday.
Blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, bilirubin (a yellowish pigment found in bile), and alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme released into the blood during injury, bone growth and pregnancy), show significant increases.
The effects on the user's energy intake and body weights did not differ significantly between the HgPE and placebo-treatment groups, the researchers said.
The study was conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of using the gordonii purified extract over 15 days, compared with a placebo, in humans.
Beeld reported that they tested 49 overweight women in the Unilever study in Madison, Wisconsin, in the US.
One group took a yoghurt drink with 1 110mg of Hoodia and the other group were given a yoghurt drink with a placebo.
Beeld reported that these results throw light on why Unilever decided not to continue developing the appetite suppressant from the Kalahari, after investing R220m in the project.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR) patented the plant's active ingredient P57 IN 1995. They had studied it because some San people took it as an appetite suppressant.
The CSIR believed P57 was responsible for suppressing appetite and came to an agreement with the San people over royalties if an appetite suppressant was developed.
British biotechnology company Phytopharm bought the rights to develop the product, and licensed it to pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
Nothing came of that and then Unilever became involved, Beeld reported.