That's so true! Everyone wants to look amazing without having to do all the hard work and sacrifice that it takes to get there.
Hence the constant search of the American public for the "magic pill". Lately, hoodia is getting a lot of press as being this magic pill. My brother-in-law recently asked me what I knew about -- the truth is not much, so I did a little digging to get the 411.
Hoodia is really hoodia gordonii a succulent plant which grows in South Africa. It has been used for ages by the San Bushmen of the Kalahari to help suppress their appetites and thirsts during long hunts. (Hmmm..not too many fat bushmen...the stuff MUST work. Then again, there aren't too many couches or 7-11s in the Kalahari)
There isn't a lot of research on the safety or effectiveness of Hoodia. The most often sited research is from a small study done by Phytopharm (a British pharmaceutical company). That study did find that obese individuals ate 1000 kcals less per day after 15 days on the drug. Even more encouraging, there did not appear to be any short-term side effects.
The problems is hoodia gordonii is very rare and difficult to grow. In fact, hoodia is actually on a watch list of plants in danger of extinction. Apparently Pfizer pulled out of a partnership with Phytopharm because of concerns on the harvesting, farming and sustainability of the plant. This means that hoodia is very rare making it highly unlikely that most of the many hoodia products currently on the market have much hoodia at all.
Ironically, Phytopharm (in partnership now with Unilever) which is the only company with the patent license for studying hoodia as an appetite supressant -- doesn't sell a hoodia product yet! They are still doing clinical trails to find out more about how P57 (the compound in hoodia believed to effect the hypothalmus) works. Phytopharm does not anticipate having a product on the market for the next several years pending the results of their research.
The bottom line on Hoodia...
- There is some anecdotal and research evidence that it works
- There is no regulation of this substance now -- including how much of it is in the supplements currently available
- It is very rare (and expensive) so it is likely that most products currently on the market have little to no hoodia
- We don't yet know the long-term health effects or appropriate dosage
- Probably best to hold off on hoodia for now-- do the thing you'll need to do ANYWAY -- (sigh) yes, diet and exercise! But keep your eyes open for future research developments.
Geralyn Coopersmith, MA, CSCS is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer and the creator of The Best Me Ever, a comprehensive weight loss and wellness system just for women