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Hoodia Extract: Appetite and Portion Control, Weight Management

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on November 13, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH

What is Hoodia? Hoodia is a spiny, succulent plant that closely resembles a cactus, and which is native to the deserts of South Africa. It has been used for centuries by Sans tribesmen to ward off hunger and thirst on extended hunting trips. For this reason, Hoodia has gained much attention for weight loss.

Scientific studies have credited a compound called P57 as being the active compound in Hoodia that gives the plant its appetite-suppressing properties. Scientists report that P57 mimics the effects of glucose on nerve cells in the brain; specifically, that it increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the nerve cells in the hypothalamus, the control center of the brain that regulates thirst, appetite and temperature. When ATP levels increase, the nerve cells signal to the hypothalamus that the body is full and satiated.

The pharmaceutical industry abandoned Hoodia as a potential weight-loss ingredient when they discovered that it was not feasible to synthetically manufacture P57. They also discovered that there were limited wild stands of Hoodia, and that it did not grow fast enough under cultivation to suit their quantity demands. This is when the supplement industry began to market and educate on the benefits of Hoodia as a whole herb.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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