GarciniaCambogia, despite the rather intimidating name, is really nothing more than a fruit that looks like a small pumpkin. It is found in many Asian countries, including India.
Today, GarciniaCambogia—or at least, chemicals extracted from its pulp and rind—is used in homeopathic or natural cures. One of its most popular uses is for weight loss. Supporters believe that its key ingredient, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), helps lower appetite and boost the body’s ability to burn fat. Apparently, HCA controls an enzyme (citrate lyase) which converts carbohydrates into fat, fooling the body into burning off the carbohydrates instead. Claims have yet to be scientifically substantiated, however. The most successful studies have been done on animals, but tests on human beings have led to mixed results. One of the most famous studies, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that there was no improvement in weight loss. However, GarciniaCambogia supporters maintain that the study was affected by the high-fiber diet given to the subjects. According to them, the fiber affected the body’s absorption of HCA (and the test did not conduct exams to see if the HCA was, in fact, active in the subjects’ cells).
Many people, however, that GarciniaCambogia extracts falls in the category of “there’s no harm in trying.” There are no known risks associated with it, though it is important to consult a doctor before using it. For example, most doctors advise children and pregnant and lactating women from taking the drug. Diabetics and Alzheimer patients are also cautioned against using it, because of the possible interaction between HCA and blood and brain chemistry.