Hoodia Gordonii: How Hoodia Weight Loss Pills Work to Help you Lose Weight
|Hoodia Gordonii||Darrell Miller||12/10/08|
December 10, 2008 10:48 AM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Hoodia Gordonii
Hoodia Gordonii is a South African succulent plant of the family Apocynaceae. They are remarkable similar in appearance to cacti, although they are totally unrelated to them and grow predominantly in the region of Central Namibia in the south west of Africa, up to the southern regions of Angola. They are most commonly found in rocky ground and on the plains.
There are several species of hoodia, some of them grown domestically, and it is Hoodia gordonii that is used as an appetite suppressant in hoodia weight loss pills. Although the plant has historically found use in the treatment of infections and gastric problems, most interest is displayed in its use by the bushmen of the Kalahari Desert to suppress their appetite during long hunting trips when food and water are scarce.
The active ingredient was isolated in 1977, and given the name P57: the product is therefore often referred to as Hoodia P57. It was patented by its discoverers, the CSIR (South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and a license granted to UK company Phytopram, who worked together with Pfizer to isolate the active ingredients and manufacture them synthetically. This was found to be very difficult, if not impossible, since any synthetic form of the extract failed to display any hunger-suppressant properties.
Finally, the rights to the main ingredient were released by Pfizer in 2002, thus indicating that it was of no commercial benefit to them. The main problem they admitted with synthesizing P57 was not only the difficulty in doing so, but also that there were side effects of the extract on the liver caused by other components that could not be removed. No synthetic form of hoodia is therefore available, and only the natural plant is used in current Hoodia 57 preparations.
The rights of the San Bushmen to the plant were recognized by the CSIR in 2002, and not only do they receive a proportion of the profits of marketing hoodia, but also the plant is protected with wild-harvesting licenses provided to only certain individuals and companies. Due to the rising popularity of the hoodia weight loss industry, the plant has been named as an endangered species in the wild.
It is believed that the active ingredients are steroidal saponins that can fool the body into believing it is full. This theory is based upon the effect on appetite of glucose concentrations in the blood. Your appetite is controlled by the amount of unconverted glucose in your blood, and glycogen in the liver. When you eat carbohydrates, they are digested and converted into glucose which is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Under normal conditions your blood glucose levels increase to a level where a signal from hypothalamus stops you feeling hungry. Insulin is then secreted from the pancreas to prepare your cells to use that glucose in the mitochondria to create energy by means of the Kreb's Cycle, or Citric Acid Cycle as it is also known. This reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, and once it reaches a certain level the body begins to use its emergency energy supply, glycogen, that is stored in the liver.
A signal then informs the brain that more glucose is needed. You then feel hungry again, and this cycle is repeated several times a day in a normally healthy person. This cycle is controlled by certain hormones in the brain, specifically in the ventromedial center of the hypothalamus, where it is believed that the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) availability controls the release of the hormones involved.
ATP is the molecule of energy, and as the concentration of blood glucose and of glycogen drop, then the amount of ATP produced also drops and this is detected in the hypothalamus, which reacts by releasing ghrelin. Increased leptin increases the feeling of satiety and ghrelin increases the feeling of hunger. Serotonin acts on the brain to increase the effect of leptin in the hypothalamus, and therefore make us feel less hungry, or more satiated.
It is believed that hoodia gordonii, or the Hoodia P57 component of it, fools the brain into believing that your blood glucose or glycogen levels have reached the point at which it should trigger a satiated response, so that you stop eating even though your ATP levels might be low. The steroidal saponins that it contains is believed to be ten thousand times more effective than glucose in stimulated the secretion of serotonin.
Hoodia has also been found to contain a number of glycosides, including pregnane glycosides that some studies have indicated to help control appetite of the subjects tested. Most of these tests have been carried out on animals, although Hoodia weight loss preparations are offered in a form standardized on both steroidal saponins and pregnane glycosides.
Hoodia gordonii is becoming so popular as a weight loss product that its export is being monitored by the South African government. It has become so endangered that, since 2005, only hoodia grown on commercial farms is permitted an export license, and exporters must obtain a license from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Importers also require a permit from the US department of Agriculture, and a CITES certificate is also needed to re-export the finished product.
Because of this, more hoodia weight loss pills are being sold than there is hoodia gordonii to produce them. It is not uncommon for cacti such as the prickly pear cactus from Mexico, to be used, or for low concentrations of hoodia to be bulked up with fillers. Neither of these is of any use as an appetite suppressant, the former having no active ingredients whatsoever and the latter containing only traces.
If you are purchasing hoodia, therefore, be aware of this. Request sight of the CITES certificate and USDA permit, and also the analysis results by an authorized laboratory to confirm that the product is what it purports to be. Otherwise, there is some evidence that Hoodia gordonii can help you reduce weight, although to date there are only four recognized analytical laboratories registered to analyze the active content of hoodia weight loss products.
Finally, check for the analysis certificates. All Hoodia weight loss products should be analyzed by each of three methods: Microscopy, High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) - all there are needed. The four authorized laboratories are: the University of Mississippi, Chromadex labs in Irvine California, Alkemist Pharmaceuticals and Advanced Laboratories, Smithfield, NC.
No others will do, so if your Hoodia weight loss preparation has not been analyzed using the three methods by one of these laboratories, don't buy it, even if it can show the CITES and USDA documentation.