Is there Any Hoodia in that Hoodia Weight Loss Product?
Copyright 2006 Richard Keir Gotten any email spam lately with a 'warning' about buying fake Hoodia products or Hoodia products with a variety of fillers? Of course, they assure you that THEIR product is 'the original product.' It may be the original product, whatever that might mean, but the chances of it containing Hoodia are pretty close to zero. Or maybe you're getting the spam about Hoodia 92--, whatever, or one about getting into skinny jeans or having men chase you, or the brickwall last 18 pounds spam with the large "disc0unts". Obviously the spammers see this as a potentially lucrative market. If any of the spam tempts you, you really need to be aware of a few things about Hoodia. The whole diet area is scam heaven for unscrupulous, dishonest con artists selling products that do nothing and cost a lot.
The few legitimate ones can be nearly impossible to identify among the fakes. Legally, only one company has the license to market Hoodia as a weight loss product. Hoodia gordonii, as a weight loss product, has been patented by CSIR (the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and patents have been submitted in territories all over the world. Exclusive license for these patents belongs to Phytopharm, a bio-pharmaceutical company. The main problem is that Hoodia is a slow growing succulent (it looks sort of like a cactus) which grows wild in limited areas in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
While not endangered (yet), it is listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). That means there are legal controls on collecting Hoodia and on exporting it. Hoodia contains a molecule called P57 (catchy name, isn't it?). According to Phytopharm's Dr Richard Dixey, P57 essentially tricks the brain into feeling full. No side effects except a sense of feeling good have yet been identified but clinical trials are still underway to ensure that the Hoodia extract is safe. Unfortunately, while P57 can be artificially made, the process cannot be scaled up to produce commercial quantities at affordable prices. Phytopharm is, however, in the process of developing extensive Hoodia plantations. This takes time since Hoodia has never been cultivated before and all the problems of pests, plant diseases, correct growing conditions, etc. have to be figured out. What all this really means is that right now the quantities of real Hoodia available are extremely limited.
Some legitimate supplement companies have even been scammed by their suppliers into believing that they were receiving genuine Hoodia when they were getting roots, other succulents, sawdust, etc. As a consumer, you are likely to get burned buying any weight loss product that is supposed to contain Hoodia unless it has been licensed by Phytopharm. Food supplements (NOT labeled as a weight loss product) may or may not contain Hoodia. Ones that may actually contain Hoodia may not have enough to have any weight loss effect. Some may contain Hoodia, but not the active ingredient (that P57 molecule). At this point, Phytopharm is planning to bring out various food products containing Hoodia gordonii, hopefully by 2008. Meanwhile, unless it's a Pytopharm product, if it claims to be Hoodia and to be for weight loss, at the very least the marketing is illegal and infringes on Phytopharm's rights, and, most probably, the product has either none of the necessary product or too little to be effective. Once real Hoodia products do become more widely available, they could be extremely helpful in weight reduction and appetite control. But now? Over the internet? Scams seem to rule, so be prepared to waste your money. While Hoodia certainly appears to work - and probably is safe, your chances of actually getting Hoodia, unless you are very careful, make focusing on maintaining a workable diet and exercise program a much more certain alternative for losing weight.