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Does Garcinia Help Lose Weight?

By Sarah Terry ; Updated July 18, 2017

Garcinia cambogia is a plant native to Southeast Asia and is used medicinally for the properties in the rind of its fruits. The fruits are often used to make hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, which is marketed as a weight-loss supplement. Before you begin taking garcinia or HCA supplements for weight loss, consult your doctor about the possible health risks and correct dosage.


Garcinia fruits are also called Malabar tamarind, and the HCA extracted from them is similar to citric acid, according to the University of Michigan Health System. The HCA in garcinia fruits appears to block your body’s metabolism of simple sugars into fats. Garcinia cambogia is also thought to prevent fat storage by affecting a specific enzyme in your body, suppress appetite by increasing serotonin levels and stimulate the burning of stored fat for energy during long-duration exercise, says.


The HCA in garcinia is primarily marketed for its potential effects in promoting weight loss, notes. Due to garcinia’s apparent functions in the body for preventing fat storage and burning existing stored fats, the supplement may help you to lose weight. Specifically, garcinia appears to work best coupled with a low-fat diet or to counteract the negative health effects of a diet that’s high in simple sugars, explains the University of Michigan Health System. A high-fiber diet seems to inhibit the absorption of HCA from garcinia, so the supplement would have little benefit for people who consume a diet that contains large amounts of fiber, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Talk with your physician before taking garcinia or HCA for any health purpose.


The dosage of garcinia supplements are typically measured by the HCA content, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Although the exact effective dosage of garcinia is unknown, the typical recommended dosage is 1,500 mg of HCA daily, divided into three separate doses taken prior to each meal, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Ask your health-care provider about the safest and most effective dosage that’s right for you before taking HCA or garcinia to promote weight loss.


Although some medical studies have found that the HCA in Garcinia cambogia appears to promote weight loss, many studies have found no benefit, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For example, a randomized clinical trial published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in 1998 discovered that taking Garcinia cambogia did not produce significant weight loss. The 12-week-long study of 135 patients compared a group receiving HCA garcinia supplements to a group receiving a placebo, explains the National Institutes of Health. Both groups lost weight, but no statistically notable differences were seen between the two groups in terms of weight loss and reductions in body-fat mass.


Because garcinia can affect your body’s sugar metabolism, you shouldn’t take the supplement if you have diabetes, warns. No drug interactions or adverse effects have been seen from taking garcinia or HCA supplements, says the University of Michigan Health System. But keep in mind that very few medical studies in humans have been conducted, so the true health risks of taking garcinia are unknown.

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