What is Garcinia cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is a small-to-medium size tree, originally found in Southeast Asia (Indonesia) and cultivated across India, Southeast Asia and Africa for its fruit. It is also known as Brindal Berry, Gamboge or Malabar Tamarind. It has traditionally been used in cooking, for preserving food or for therapeutic purposes in traditional Indian medicine (for example, to induce satiety) or for veterinary purposes.
How does it work?
The active ingredient of the Garcinia cambogia extract is hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Studies in animals and humans have shown that HCA has potential activity on weight control and fat oxidation but the results were mixed.
The extract of Garcinia cambogia fruit rind has been used for weight control as an appetite suppressant and fat burner. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support its long-term use, according to a study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Garcinia cambogia in humans.
Nutrition and health claims are regulated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). No claims about Garcinia cambogia have been approved.
Garcinia supplement information
There are several nutritional supplements containing Garcinia cambogia extract available, mainly as HCA, some marketed as calcium- potassium salt of HCA or other formulations. Garcinia cambogia extract can be found mixed with other plant extracts or salts in weight loss nutritional supplements.
The recommended daily dose of Garcinia cambogia extract according to herbal supplements manufacturers is 4,500-6,000 mg. A dose of up to 4667 mg/day of Garcinia cambogia extract (HCA equivalent dose of up to 2,800mg) is considered to be safe based on studies looking at the safety of this HCA supplement.
Garcinia side effects and risks
Garcinia cambogia can cause mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea or diarrhoea.
Garcinia cambogia extract is not recommended for individuals with diabetes or dementia, pregnant or lactating women. Garcinia cambogia extract has been linked to liver toxicity but it is not clear whether this is a direct effect. Some studies have reported cases of rhabdomyolysis (break down of muscle tissue) and nephropathy (kidney damage).
Toxicity studies have not found conclusive interactions but some studies have reported interactions with:
- Drugs used for heart disease and irregular heart rhythms
- Drugs that lower blood glucose levels and insulin
- Iron supplements
- Potassium and calcium supplements
- Leukotriene receptor antagonists
It is advisable to talk to your GP or your pharmacist before taking a Garcinia cambogia supplement.