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Questions About Natural Products

Garcinia and HCA


Is taking a supplement that contains Garcinia combogia okay for Type A? I looked it up and all I could find is that it is a purple sweet fruit which is also known as the Malabar Tamarind.


A scan of the relevant lectin literature disclosed no lectin like activity in the plant (which I've also verified in my own lab), but the bigger question may be efficacy more than toxicity.

Hydroxycitric acid, the active ingredient in the herbal compound Garcinia cambogia, inhibits the extramitochondrial enzyme adenosine triphosphate-citrate (pro-3S)-lyase. As an enzyme that may play an essential role in de novo lipogenesis inhibition, Garcinia is claimed to lower body weight and reduce fat mass in humans. However, Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo. (1) A second study showed no difference in the short-term rate of fat oxidation in the fasting state during rest or moderate exercise, with doses likely to be achieved in humans while subjects maintain a typical Western diet; approximately 30-35% total calories as fat. (2)

Having used the product in years past in several patients, I've since stopped employing it as it appears that the reputed action of the herb is minimal at best.

1. Heymsfield SB, Allison DB, Vasselli JR, Pietrobelli A, Greenfield D, Nunez C. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1596-600.

2. McCarty MF. Utility of metformin as an adjunct to hydroxycitrate/carnitine for reducing body fat in diabetics. Med Hypotheses. 1998 Nov;51(5):399-403.

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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