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Role of Garcinia Cambogia in Fat Burners

By Janet Renee, MS, RD ; Updated July 18, 2017

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, gallbladder disease and fatty liver disease. Garcinia cambogia is an herb added to weight loss supplements because proponents believe that it exerts fat burning effects. Evidence for Garcinia cambogia as a fat burner is preliminary at best, and there is no guarantee that a weight-control supplement containing Garcinia cambogia will have the active ingredients needed to help with weight loss. You should consult your doctor before taking weight loss supplements containing Garcinia cambogia.


Garcinia cambogia is a fruit-bearing plant native to tropical regions. Historically, people used the fruit rinds as a condiment and flavoring agent. In ayurvedic medicine, a system of medicine native to India, Garcinia cambogia is considered a beneficial herb. The primary active substance in Garcinia cambogia is hydroxycitric acid. According to Drugs.com, limited data suggests that hydroxycitric acid increases fat oxidation, which is the process of burning fat for energy.


Researchers from the University of Exeter conducted a review of randomized trials to determine the effectiveness of Garcinia cambogia as a weight reduction aid, with a focus on hydroxycitric acid as the active substance. After identifying and reviewing 12 studies, the team, lead by Igho Onakpoya, concluded that Garcinia cambogia can cause short-term weight loss. However, the review notes that the effect is considered small and more rigorous studies are necessary. Their review is published in the December 2010 issue of the "Journal of Obesity."

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Mechanism and Dosages

Though researchers are not completely certain how Garcinia cambogia causes weight loss, animal studies suggest that it affects certain enzymes, which results in low-density lipoprotein oxidation, according to Drugs.com. Low-density lipoprotein is considered a bad form of cholesterol, and oxidation is the process of burning energy. Doses used in clinical trials ranged from 1,500 to 4,667 milligrams per day.


The most common side effects associated with Garcinia cambogia are dry mouth, headache, nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach. Some individuals are allergic to Garcinia cambogia. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience serious allergic reactions such as swelling of the face, lips and tongue or difficulty breathing. Garcinia cambogia may interact with your medications. You should tell your doctor if you are currently prescribed medication.

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