Garcinia cambogia is available as an herbal supplement and marketed as a weight loss agent. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) or hydroxycitric acid, is an active ingredient that is extracted from the rind of this Indian fruit. Research with garcinia cambogia in terms of weight loss has provided mixed results and there is no agreement in the medical community as to whether this herb is effective as a weight loss diet pill when used by itself.
Chronic administration of hydroxycitrate promotes lipid oxidation and spares carbohydrate utilization in mice at rest and during running.
Garcinia cambogia may have gastric ulcer protecting properties.
Appetite suppression, no effect
Effects of hydroxycitric acid on appetitive variables.
Physiol Behav. 2000.
Hydroxycitric acid reportedly promotes weight loss, in part, through suppression of hunger. However, this mechanism has never been evaluated in humans in a controlled study. Eighty-nine mildly overweight females were prescribed 5020-kJ diets for 12 weeks as part of a double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group study. Forty-two participants ingested 400-mg caplets of Garcinia cambogia 30-60 min prior to meals for a total dose of 2.4 g/day (1.2 g/day HCA). Forty-seven participants ingested matched placebos. Both groups lost body weight with the active group achieving a significantly greater reduction. No effects of the HCA were observed on appetitive variables. The active treatment group did not exhibit better dietary compliance or significant correlations between appetitive variables and energy intake or weight change. This study does not support a satiety effect of HCA.
Garcinia extract was used as a potential antiobesity agent. In week 3 of culture with insulin, the fat cells exhibited more numerous and larger intracytoplasmic lipid droplets (i.e. 30-40 microm(2)). When Garcinia extract and insulin were added simultaneously, the accumulation of lipid droplets was inhibited and the peak droplet area shifted to become smaller (10-20 microm(2)). The activities of glycerophosphate dehydrogenase, a marker of adipose differentiation, were not significantly inhibited. These findings suggest that the Garcinia extract inhibits lipid droplet accumulation in fat cells without affecting adipose conversion.
Garcinia cambogia extract is a herbal preparation that has been suggested as useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. In the present study this drug was tested for its antiulcerogenic effect. Oral pretreatment with Garcinia cambogia fruit extract (1 g/kg body wt/day) for 5, 10 or 15 days protected the gastric mucosa against the damage induced by indomethacin (20 mg/kg body wt). The volume and acidity of the gastric juice decreased in the pretreated rats. The glycoprotein levels of the gastric contents which were decreased in the untreated rats, maintained near normal levels in the pretreated rats. Protein which was elevated in the gastric juice of untreated rats, showed near normal levels in the pretreated rats. Garcinia cambogia was able to decrease the acidity and to increase the mucosal defense in the gastric areas, thereby justifying its use as an antiulcerogenic agent.
Side effects, risks, cautions, cause for liver concern?
I am a pharmacist and have read in a magazine that liver damage is linked to hydroxycitric acid in garcinia cambogia. Have you heard anything about this.
As of 2013, I have not come across any such research regarding liver damage from the use of this herb by humans in supplement form.
Is garcinia cambogia supplement safe to use for many months at a time?
It may be, but we prefer taking a week break every month if you plan to take this herbal supplement for prolonged periods.
Physico-chemical properties of a novel hydroxycitric acid extract and its effect on body weight, selected organ weights, hepatic lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation, hematology and clinical chemistry, and histopathological changes over a period of 90 days.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2004.
Garcinia cambogia-derived hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a popular and natural supplement for weight management. HCA is a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme ATP citrate lyase, which catalyzes the conversion of citrate and coenzyme A to oxaloacetate and acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA) in the cytosol. Acetyl CoA is used in the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and triglycerides, and in the synthesis of acetylcholine in the central nervous system. Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a novel 60 % calcium-potassium salt of HCA derived from Garcinia cambogia (HCA-SX, Super CitriMax) in weight management. Results have shown that HCA-SX promotes fat oxidation, enhances serotonin release and availability in the brain cortex, normalizes lipid profiles, and lowers serum leptin levels in obese subjects. Acute oral, acute dermal, primary dermal irritation and primary eye irritation toxicity, as well as Ames bacterial reverse mutation studies and mouse lymphoma tests have demonstrated the safety of HCA-SX. However, no detailed long-term safety of HCA-SX or any other HCA extract has been previously assessed. We evaluated the dose- and time-dependent effects of HCA-SX in Sprague-Dawley rats on body weight, selected organ weights, hepatic lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation, hematology and clinical chemistry over a period of 90 days. Our results show that 90 day treatment of HCA-SX results in a reduction in body weight, and does not cause any changes in major organs or in hematology, clinical chemistry, and histopathology.
Summary and review
Hydroxycitrate (or hydroxycitric acid) derived from garcinia cambogia, by itself, may not lead to a significant weight loss, but in combination with other nutrients and herbs it may have potential. The research with garcinia cambogia extract is still fuzzy and I am not yet convinced that it and hydroxycitric acid are effective in the treatment of obesity.
Other weight Loss options to consider
Green tea extract and Hoodia are popular weight loss herbs that may work in some individuals. 5-HTP is a nutrient that helps curb appetite in some individuals. 5-HTP, by converting into serotonin, can be used temporarily to improve will power and decrease the urge to eat until more established weight loss habits are in place.
High dose of Garcinia cambogia is effective in suppressing fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats, but highly toxic to the testis.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2005.
We investigated the ability of Garcinia cambogia extract containing hydroxycitric acid (HCA) to suppress body fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese (fa/fa) rats. We also examined histopathologically the safety of its high doses. The highest dose of HCA-containing Garcinia cambogia showed significant suppression of epididymal fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats, compared with the other groups. However, the diets containing 102 mmol HCA/kg diet and higher (778 and 1244 mg HCA/kg BW/d, respectively) caused potent testicular atrophy and toxicity, whereas diets containing 51 mmol HCA/kg diet (389 mg HCA/kg BW/d) or less did not. Accordingly, 389 mg HCA/kg BW/d was deemed to be the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL).
Physico-chemical properties of a novel hydroxycitric acid extract derived from Garcinia Cambogia and its effect on body weight, selected organ weights, hepatic lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation, hematology and clinical chemistry, and histopathological changes over a period of 90 days.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2004.
Garcinia cambogia derived (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a popular supplement for weight management. HCA is a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme ATP citrate lyase, which catalyzes the conversion of citrate and coenzyme A to oxaloacetate and acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA) in the cytosol. Acetyl CoA is used in the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and triglycerides, and in the synthesis of acetylcholine in the central nervous system. Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a novel 60 % calcium-potassium salt of HCA derived from Garcinia cambogia (HCA-SX, Super CitriMax) in weight management. Results have shown that HCA-SX promotes fat oxidation, enhances serotonin release and availability in the brain cortex, normalizes lipid profiles, and lowers serum leptin levels in obese subjects. Acute oral, acute dermal, primary dermal irritation and primary eye irritation toxicity, as well as Ames bacterial reverse mutation studies and mouse lymphoma tests have demonstrated the safety of HCA-SX. However, no detailed long-term safety of HCA-SX or any other HCA extract has been previously assessed. Taken together, these results show that 90 day treatment of garcinia cambogia derived HCA-SX results in a reduction in body weight, and does not cause any changes in major organs or in hematology, clinical chemistry, and histopathology.
Body weight and abdominal fat gene expression profile in response to a novel hydroxycitric acid-based dietary supplement.
Gene Expr. 2004.
Traditional herbal medicines may have some potential in managing obesity. Botanical dietary supplements often contain complex mixtures of phytochemicals that have additive or synergistic interactions. The dried fruit rind of Garcinia cambogia, also known as Malabar tamarind, is a unique source of (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which exhibits a distinct sour taste and has been safely used for centuries in Southeastern Asia to make meals more filling. Recently it has been demonstrated that HCA-SX or Super Citrimax, a novel derivative of HCA, is safe when taken orally and that HCA-SX is bioavailable in the human plasma. We sought to determine the effects of low-dose oral HCA-SX on the body weight and abdominal fat gene expression profile of Sprague-Dawley rats. We observed that at doses relevant for human consumption dietary HCA-SX from garcinia cambogia significantly contained body weight growth. This response was associated with lowered abdominal fat leptin expression while plasma leptin levels remained unaffected. Under the current experimental conditions, HCA-SX proved to be effective in restricting body weight gain in adult rats. Functional characterization of HCA-SX-sensitive genes revealed that upregulation of genes encoding serotonin receptors represent a distinct effect of dietary HCA-SX supplementation.
Chemistry and biochemistry of hydroxycitric acid from Garcinia.
J Agric Food Chem. 2002.
Hydroxycitric acid HCA is the principal acid of fruit rinds of Garcinia cambogia, indica, and atroviridis. (-)-HCA was shown to be a potent inhibitor of ATP citrate lyase, which catalyzes the extramitochondrial cleavage of citrate to oxaloacetate and acetyl-CoA: citrate + ATP + CoA–) acetyl-CoA + ADP + P(i) + oxaloacetate. The inhibition of this reaction limits the availability of acetyl-CoA units required for fatty acid synthesis and lipogenesis during a lipogenic diet, that is, a diet high in carbohydrates. Extensive animal studies indicated that (-)-HCA suppresses the fatty acid synthesis, lipogenesis, food intake, and induced weight loss. In vitro studies revealed the inhibitions of fatty acid synthesis and lipogenesis from various precursors. However, a few clinical studies have shown controversial findings.
Effect of Garcinia cambogia extract on serum leptin and insulin in mice.
In this study we examined the effects of 3.3 % Garcinia cambogia extract on 10 % sucrose loading in mice for 4 weeks. Treatment was found to have no effect on body weight, fat pad weight or serum glucose level. On the other hand, serum total cholesterol, triglycerides, NEFA were observed. Levels of serum insulin and leptin, as well as the leptin/WAT ratio, were lower in the treated mice than in the control. These findings suggested that G. cambogia extract efficiently improved glucose metabolism and displayed leptin-like activity.
1998 Garcinia article in JAMA
Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial.
Obesity Research Center, St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.
Hydroxycitric acid, the active ingredient in the herbal compound Garcinia cambogia, competitively inhibits the extramitochondrial enzyme adenosine triphosphate-citrate (pro-3S)-lyase. As a citrate cleavage enzyme that may play an essential role in de novo lipogenesis inhibition, garcinia cambogia is claimed to lower body weight and reduce fat mass in humans. To evaluate the efficacy of garcinia cambogia for body weight and fat mass loss in overweight human subjects. Twelve-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Subjects were randomized to receive either active herbal compound (1500 mg of hydroxycitric acid per day) or placebo, and both groups were prescribed a high-fiber, low-energy diet. The treatment period was 12 weeks. A total of 135 subjects were randomized to either active hydroxycitric acid or placebo; 42 (64 %) in the active hydroxycitric acid group and 42 (61 %) in the placebo group completed 12 weeks of treatment. Patients in both groups lost a significant amount of weight during the 12-week treatment period; however, between-group weight loss differences were not statistically significant. There were no significant differences in estimated percentage of body fat mass loss between garcinia cambogia and placebo groups, and the fraction of subject weight loss as fat was not influenced by treatment group. Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.
Raw Material Suppliers
Garcinia Cambogia Extract Powder
50 % Powder
50 % Granular
60 % hydroxycitric acid
Hope this information was helpful.