Does hoodia work is the question? I think a lot of us are wondering that but first a little background information if you don't mind. Hoodia has several names: Cactus du Kalahari, Extrait de Hoodia, Hoodia Gordonii Cactus, Hoodia P57, Kalahari Cactus, Kalahari Diet, P57 and Xhoba. The scientific name is Hoodia gordonii of the family Apocynaceae.
Hoodia became popular after Tom Mangold travelled to Africa and sampled an ugly cactus-like plant called Hoodia. The cactus lives in very hot temperatures and takes years to become mature.
Supposedly, as seen above, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari dessert, a very old tribe have been eating the Hoodia cactus for thousands of years, to suppress the appetite before long hunting expeditious. The molecule supposedly responsible for the appetite suppressant effects has been nicknamed P57 by South African scientists.
The license to sell Hoodia was first sold to Cambridgeshire biopharmaceutical company, Phytopharm, who then sold the marketing and development rights to the Pfizer Corporation.
Tom Mangold, a BBC News Correspondent sampled the cactus four hours north of Capetown, wondering, does hoodia work? The plant was described as being "unattractive with sprouts about 10 tentacles, and the size of a cucumber, each tentacle was covered in spikes which need to be carefully peeled."
Tom ate about a half banana size of the cactus along with his camera man and described it as an unpleasant-tasting freshly plant. The cactus should make you feel euphoric to some extent which Tom seemed to have felt.
Tom was not hungry for dinner nor did he eat breakfast the next day. He described the feeling as a "magnificent deception." Lunch came and he ate without hunger. Slowly over the next twenty-four hours his hunger returned.
When Hoodia broke out, I made sure to buy a bottle of it. I took quite a few pills and my hunger never diminished. I never bought another bottle because I believed it was ineffective.
Apparently, many people have been ripped off on the internet because it has been found that several sellers of Hoodia haven't been providing the actual product to consumers. Since the FDA doesn't require providers of supplements to prove that the actual product is in the pills, they get away with this commonly. I may have very well been one of the internet customers that was ripped off.
I think if I want to try it again, I want to eat the actual cactus, fresh, after it has been picked and peeled. I don't know if I could tolerate the taste but that sounds like the best method of getting the actual benefit of Hoodia. Once it has been processed and made into pills who knows if that is sufficient to gain the benefit of actual appetite suppression. I doubt they sell the actual cactus, picked and peeled, ready for consumption.
In 2001, Phytopharm of Pfizer made a public statement saying they completed a clinical study of P57. P57, as reviewed above, was nicknamed the active ingredient inside the Hoodia cactus that suppresses the appetite. Whenever the owner of the product being sold does a clinical study, the clinical study itself is considered biased and by scientists evaluating the product, the product will receive less significance by the scientific community and the study may even be considered invalid.
This happens because the owner of the product has a very high interest in proving the product is beneficial because that leads directly to financial gain. If they show otherwise, they lose a lot of money because they can't sell the product. This is a huge bias, so you may not want to believe what they reported. What was reported was never published in a scientific journal either which is not the proper protocol for a clinical study such as this one.
Apparently, there were eighteen subjects that were allocated to receive P57 twice daily or placebo (sugar pill) twice daily for 15 days. Records were kept of daily calorie intake, body weight and body fat content during the last three days of dosing.
The study's preliminary data suggested that there was a significant reduction in average calorie intake of the P57 group than with the placebo group. No serious adverse effects were reported.
This study does nothing except make the provider or the owner of Hoodia look like they have a bona fide legitimate effective miracle pill. When you use only eighteen subjects in a study, most scientists will not associate the outcome with the product studied because eighteen subjects is way too small a sample size.
In fact, we are taught in school to perceive studies like this as practically worthless. A study that wants to prove effectiveness needs to be done with a high number of subjects, at least 1000, and the study cannot be done by the owner of the product. A 3rd party that is not biased needs to do the clinical study if it wants to appear legit. I'm getting tired of these small clinical trials done by the owner of the product claiming the product is effective. They all do it.
Not one of them bothers to pay for a large clinical study with lots of participants done by a non-biased party because it is really expensive to do this. I haven't seen one do this. And of course the product doesn't cause any side effects. I've seen other studies of the same size done, claiming there are no side effects, only to take the product and have raging unpleasant diarrhea from the product.
When you simply say that 18 people, one half taking Hoodia and one-half taking placebo received no unpleasant side-effects how can you possibly state that the public (millions of people) all with different susceptibilities and different digestive tracts and different genes are not going to receive any side effects? It is crazy to state that there are no side effects only because nine people tolerated it well. Do you see the importance now of having a very large clinical trial instead of a small one?
I really wish the FDA would clamp down on the supplement industry (A billion dollar industry) by forcing them to do more scientifically valid studies proving their product is effective before they market it to the public claiming that it is. If the FDA did this, they would do the entire U.S. a favor and we would receive less of these so-called "miracle" drugs and we would only receive what works in large amounts of people. We'd know if they were really that effective and if they were really that safe.