Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Vitamins & minerals health centre

Hoodia

Hoodia is derived from the South African succulent hoodia gordonii plant.

The South African government says hoodia is a protected species which has been a traditional medicine of the Northern Cape's San communities for centuries.

Illegal harvesting of hoodia has been highlighted as a risk to the survival of this plant species.

Hoodia research

Hoodia has been studied as appetite suppressant. The NHS Knowledge Network in Scotland assessed published studies of hoodia based in clinical trials. It found there is no reliable evidence to support its safe use or effectiveness in weight loss.

The respected US Mayo Clinic also concluded in a report on weight loss pills, that for hoodia there was: "No conclusive evidence to support the claim [of appetite suppression]."

Hoodia status in the UK

Since 2011 traditional herbal products have to be registered with the regulator MHRA. Unlike licensing for medicines, this registration doesn't mean that a herbal remedy has been tested and proven to actually work. It does mean the MHRA is satisfied the product is made to good quality standards with appropriate labelling and a product information leaflet. It also means the herb has been used in traditional remedies for more than 30 years.

Hoodia does not have this registration.

Instead, the MHRA defines hoodia as a medicine, which means it is covered by strict legislation about any claims which can be made about a medicine. Hoodia products making weight loss claims have had to be withdrawn from sale. Companies are also banned from making such claims in advertising in the UK, and the Advertising Standards Authority has taken action against some suppliers and the claims made.

It is possible for unlicensed herbal medicines to be supplied legally by a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Such practitioners can supply unlicensed herbal medicines which they have prepared on their premises for the needs of individual patients which have been identified in a face-to- face consultation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 08, 2016

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
man holding sore neck
16 tips when you have a lot of weight to lose
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
man holding sore neck
8 signs you're headed for menopause
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver