Botanical Name: Hoodia gordonii.
Other Common Names: Bushman’s Hat, queen of the Namib, hoodia, xhooba, !khoba, Ghaap, hoodia cactus.
Habitat: Hoodia gordonii grows primarily in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa and also in Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.
Description: Hoodia is often mistaken for a cactus because of the resemblance but it is actually a succulent plant.
Hoodia gordonii can grow up to 50 cm in height and it has fleshy, ribbed and thorny stems. It emits a foul smell similar to rotten flesh to attract flies to the flowers to aid with pollination.
The flowers, that Hoodia gordonii produces, are purple and it can take up to five years for them to appear and then and only then can the plant be harvested.
Because it takes such a long time until the plant can be harvested and its scarceness, the commercial products made from it tend to be expensive.
Plant Parts Used: The fleshy part of the stem. The Bushmen of the Kalahari desert, also known by the name “khoi-San”, used Hoodia gordonii for thousands of years to ward off hunger and thirst while hunting and looking for food.
The active ingredient in hoodia cordonii is called p57, a steroidal glycoside, and it is this ingredient that is thought to suppress appetite.
Health Benefits, Therapeutic Uses and Claims of
Hoodia gordonii was first introduced to the U.S. market in early 2004 and it has quickly become one of the most popular herbal remedy for weight loss on the market.
There are more than 20 plant species in the genus Hoodia. Hoodia gordonii is the only species in that genus known to contain the active ingredient p57 which is thought to suppress appetite.
The active ingredient p57 in Hoodia gordonii was initially discovered and is patented by CSIR (The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa).
A research study based on animal models published in the September issue (2004) of Brain Research found that if p57 was injected into the appetite center of the brain of rats it resulted in a loss of appetite. The rats that were given the P57 injections ate less than the rats that received plain placebo injections.
Hoodia gordonii is both scarce and expensive and therefore have some unscrupulous firms been selling products said to contain hoodia gordonii but do not contain it at all.
Other dishonest companies have been selling hoodia but just not hoodia gordonii containing the ingredient p57, so caution is advised when buying hoodia products.
Hoodia gordonii is on the list of CITES (Convention of Illicit Trade of Endangered Species) for protected plants which declares that it may not be harvested from the wild and growing and selling of the plant requires a special permit.
Dosage and Administration
It is often recommended to start with 800 to 1500 mg per day of Hoodia gordonii extract and gradually increase the dose up to 4500mg per day which is usually the maximum amount allowed per day.
The manufacturers’ doses should always be followed.
Potential Side Effects of Hoodia Gordonii
Hoodia gordonii is not considered a stimulant and there have not been any reports of negative side effects.
Still, more studies are needed for the long-term use of this herb so it should always be used with care.