© Nico Laubscher CITES Photo
This fact sheet provides basic information about the herb hoodia—common names, uses, potential
side effects, and resources for more information. Hoodia is a flowering, cactus-like plant native
to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Its harvest is protected by conservation laws.
Common Names—hoodia, Kalahari cactus, Xhoba
Latin Names—Hoodia gordonii
What It Is Used For
- Kalahari Bushmen have
traditionally eaten hoodia stems to reduce their hunger and thirst during long
- Today, hoodia is marketed as an appetite
suppressant for weight loss.
How It Is Used
- Dried extracts of hoodia stems
and roots are used to make capsules, powders, and chewable tablets. Hoodia can also be used in liquid
extracts and teas.
- Hoodia products often contain other herbs or minerals, such as green tea or
What the Science Says
There is no reliable scientific evidence to support hoodia's use. No studies of the herb in people have been
Side Effects and Cautions
- Hoodia's safety is unknown. Its
potential risks, side effects, and interactions with medicines and other supplements have not been
- The quality of hoodia products varies widely. News reports suggest that some
products sold as hoodia do not contain any hoodia.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative
practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure
coordinated and safe care.
- Hoodia. Natural Medicines
Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on May 16, 2007.
- Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on May
For More Information