Hoodia: Miracle or Scam?

The plant Hoodia gordonii has developed a reputation as a miracle appetite suppressant.  This reputation has come from various media reports, including ones on CBS’s 60 Minutes and the BBC.  Many nutritional supplements claiming to contain Hoodia have flooded the market, being pitched on late-night infomercials and on the internet.  Therefore the question is, does Hoodia deserve this reputation, or is it just a big scam?

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Consumer Reports concluded that there was little or no evidence that Hoodia was safe or effective.  They also noted that the nutritional supplement industry is virtually unregulated, leading to unsupported claims by such products as TrimSpa, which uses Anna Nicole Smith as a celebrity endorser.  It has been found in some tests that many products claiming to contain Hoodia in fact contain so little of the active ingredient, P57, that they are actually completely ineffective.  TrimSpa Hoodia pills used to contain Ephedra until this substance was banned in the US.

Experts say that almost all of the evidence for Hoodia is anecdotal, and that little research has been done to confirm the assumption it has no side effects.  There is also some evidence that consumers who are buying the supplements over the Internet or at health-food stores may not be getting what they're paying for.  Many supplements seem to contain little or none of the active ingredients in Hoodia.  Some people have questioned whether or not products boasting of Hoodia actually contain Hoodia or its active ingredient. Some critics have pointed out that there hasn’t been enough Hoodia plant cultivated or imported to supply all of the pills that supposedly contain it.

Many people have had mixed success with Hoodia pills. For some, there are no discernible effects if they also drink caffeinated beverages or work out hard. If you go onto a dieting message board, you can compare different people’s experiences with different brands of Hoodia pills, and see which pills are just scams. Some pills are so weak or contain altered versions of Hoodia or might even contain no Hoodia at all. If you decide to purchase a batch of pills, be sure to choose ones that you have heard some people had success with, as well as, for your wallet’s sake, has a money back guarantee.

The Hoodia plant grows wild only in the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Its relatives are commonly found in the Namib Desert, and it is a protected plant. The only area from which this South African plant can be exported is the West Cape; other areas of South Africa and Africa are closed from export.

Because it is a protected plant, the average consumer cannot just go to South Africa and get some of the plant. It is difficult to take out of the country, for one reason, and for another, it can actually be fairly difficult to find a Hoodia plant. Also, it takes 5 – 7 years for a Hoodia plant to mature, and actually have appetite suppressant qualities.  North Americans can get Hoodia in pill form, however pure Hoodia is very expensive, and has often been obtained illegally.

hoodia gordonii


hoodia gordonii