Is hoodia an effective appetite suppressant?

Answers from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

Although hoodia is marketed as an appetite suppressant to aid weight loss, there's no solid evidence that hoodia is effective.

Hoodia — whose scientific name is Hoodia gordonii — is a succulent plant native to Africa. Interest in its use for appetite control and weight loss arose because of reports that native Africans use hoodia to reduce hunger during long hunts.

However, there's no evidence from scientifically sound clinical trials that hoodia aids weight loss. Evidence about the safety of hoodia also is lacking.

Still, some dietary supplement manufacturers market hoodia products as a way to suppress appetite and aid in weight loss. The Federal Trade Commission has warned manufacturers to stop making these unsubstantiated and misleading claims about hoodia and weight loss.

In addition, the quality of hoodia products varies widely. In some cases, hoodia products have been found to contain unidentified ingredients that could be harmful.

Remember, just because an herbal supplement may be natural doesn't mean it is safe. Steer clear of products that make unproven claims. And always check with your doctor before taking supplements.

Feb. 25, 2015