Hoodia doesn't help weight loss

2011-11-02 14:20

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.

Appetite suppressant

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.

  • Squeegee - 2011-11-02 14:41

    Another myth bites the dust...

  • Morné - 2011-11-02 15:18

    There must have been some indication of success if you plow R220 million into a product. They have the active ingredient now; give it a few years and another miracle product that looks remarkably like P57 will appear; minus of course the need to pay royalties to the San. Don't you just hate how experience in life turns you cynical?

      TheSkepticDetective - 2011-11-02 15:29

      The problem is that hoodia and P57 have been shown NOT to work for weight loss and appetite suppression, and have been shown to have serious side effects (vomiting, blood pressure increase and kidney damage to name a few). There was no indication of any success.

      Morné - 2011-11-02 15:44

      @TheSkepticDetective: Do I have to spell it out? I'm calling the results of the study done into question. In big business (and it does not get much bigger than pharmaceuticals) ethics often take the back seat to money/profits. The initial study results must have shown some success. Either they got the initial studies all wrong, they got the wrong active ingredient or the results of the clinical trials where manipulated. The only reason for the latter would be an effort to avoid paying royalties as explained above.

      Mike - 2011-11-02 16:01

      @Morne, by your own statement large pharmaceutical companies don't give a hoot about ethics especially in a sector that is as unregulated as health supplements. The efficacy of the drug has nothing to do with selling it, only the profits that they can make from the gullible public that buys it.

      Robin - 2011-11-02 17:35

      @ Morné, you have proof that big business is crooked and unethical? When cornered just shout that it's all the fault of big oil, big pharma, or big business. Are you not aware of the fact that big pharmaceutical companies have to spend many millions on R&D? If they didn't you would not have the many, effective and reliable, medicines, antibiotics, vaccines, etc, and that spending R220 million on R&D into Hoodia is just a piddling amount. TheSkepticDetective is absolutely 100% correct.

      Morné - 2011-11-02 19:30

      Robin, I'm well aware that capitalism (the breeding ground for big business) is the major driving force of invention and inventiveness in our society; possibly the only other stimulus to our creativity that would lead to faster technological progress is war. It does not mean I have to approve of its methods. From your statement you seem to infer that the benefits these companies bring set them above the need for ethical conduct and above public reprove. Are you blind to the fact that the more money you have the easier it is to bend, twist and break the law (written and unwritten) and get away with it? Yes, I have seen unethical conduct in big business and I am surprised that you have not. Is it unfair of me to expect the worst from this pharmaceutical giant? Probably. My comments ride on a lifetime of cynicism gained through practical experience and I believe these questions need to be asked. Society’s conscious can be regulated by government and law, but the ultimate test lies with us. If we don’t challenge the way things are done we have to accept the consequences without complaint.

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