Anyone looking for a little help with their weight loss program has probably run across the term "Hoodia Gordonii" at some point. However, many people do not know about this weight loss product and what it can, and cannot do, for them.
So, let's talk about what Hoodia Gordonii is, where it comes from, what claims are made for it, can it really help with weight loss, what are the drawbacks of using the product, and should you use it.
What Is It and Where Does It Come From?
Hoodia is a plant, or group of plants, which appears to be a cactus, but is not. Various forms of Hoodia, in the wild, if you will, are found in Africa's Namib Desert, in a range from Central Namibia to southern Angola, especially in plains and rocky areas. Common names for it include "Bushman's Hat" and "Queen of the Namib". However, it is a more domesticated, though natural, form of the plant, Hoodia Gordonii, which is generating all the interest in the world of weight loss products and supplements.
At first blush, Hoodia Gordonii does not seem to be the stuff of which legends are made as it smells like rotting meat and is propagated through pollination by flies!
However, the natives of the South African region have made use of the plant for various medicinal and practical purposes for a very long time. Somewhat like aloe, Hoodia can be used to treat infections. It has also been used to treat indigestion, but one other use has brought it to the attention of the world's diet product manufacturers and dieters.
The natives of the region have found that chewing the "meat" of the plant suppresses their appetite and allows them to go for long periods without food or water. In a region where these commodities might be few and far between, that property alone can make Hoodia Gordonii valuable to them, but what about its value to "civilized" dieters?
The Claims Made for Hoodia Gordonii.
Those who sell or use Hoodia Gordonii will tell you that a Hoodia Gordonii diet pill acts as an appetite suppressant, which is the main way it helps to lose weight. It DOES SEEM to do what they claim, and, if you eat less, there is a chance that you will lose weight eventually.
Does It Really Help with Weight Loss?
Unfortunately, all evidence is either anecdotal (word of mouth), or the result of small, generally independent, studies. No large scale, double-blind, controlled studies have been done as yet. Animal studies seem to indicate that Hoodia Gordonii works as described, but the results have not been duplicated as yet in humans. One small, unpublished study did apparently result in those using some sort of Hoodia Gordonii diet product cutting calorie intake by about 1,000 calories a day.
What are the Drawbacks of Using Hoodia Gordonii for Weight Loss?
There are three potential drawbacks, as I see it.
First, diets, and taking Hoodia Gordonii creates a "diet", don't generally work. People using a hoodia diet pill will probably stay on their diet as long as they take the pill. However, most people don't stay on the pill for a long time, and, as soon as they quit taking it, they are going to go back to eating the same way that got them overweight in the first place. If they are on it long enough, their bodies may actually move to a lower metabolic rate, making it easier to gain weight even if they eat less than before. Depriving the body of food also deprives it of the fuel it needs for the physical activity which should be part of any healthy weight loss program.
Second, and again as with any diet, simply "not eating" deprives the individual of important nutrients for health. Being healthy is what helps us enjoy life, live longer, maintain a healthy weight, and stay out of the doctor's office. Additionally, when we don't eat, our body begins to take high quality tissue, mainly lean muscle mass, from the body in order to make up whatever deficiencies it can. A loss of lean muscle mass contributes to weight gain, and the loss becomes another hurdle to surmount at a later date should the individual want to take the exercise and nutrition route to healthy weight loss.
Third, Hoodia Gordonii diet pills seem to interfere with thirst signals. We usually don't get these signals until AFTER we have gone past the point where we should begin replenishing the water in our bodies. Water fulfills several important functions in health and weight management. In fact, one high level fitness trainer, when asked what were the important points he made to the stars who came to him, put "proper hydration" high on the list.
Should YOU use a Hoodia Gordonii diet pill or supplement?
Some people have trouble controlling their eating habits. I believe that, when used intelligently as part of an overall weight loss plan or program, hoodia could be of benefit in helping them maintain that control. In light of the information above, however, I would recommend that the person will need to pay attention to nutritional needs, perhaps at the very least, supplementing with a good daily multivitamin. They will also have to intentionally make sure that they drink an appropriate amount of water since they may not be getting the signals they would normally get.
Also, since, as mentioned above, any diet tends to deprive the body of lean muscle mass, they should incorporate physical activity and a fair amount of protein into their daily schedule to make up for this.
In the final analysis, each individual will have to decide whether taking a Hoodia Gordonii diet pill is right for their needs and personality.