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Hoodia gordonii is a natural plant, it is not a drug. Eating raw natural Hoodia powder tricks your brain into thinking you’ve eaten, and makes you feel full. For some people, eating the hoodia extract works right away, but for some it may take several weeks before it “kicks in”. Key results of hoodia consumption include lowered interest in food, delayed onset of hunger, earlier feeling of satiety (feeling full), and a general feeling of well-being. Hoodia gordonii is not a stimulant, and its consumption has no known side effects. Eating hoodia appears to be safe.
The one thing Hoodia will not do for you is choosing the foods you eat. If you are living mostly on fast food, you will need to make changes. While supplementing with Hoodia you will eat much less food, but you will continue to compromise your health if you don’t eat quality nutrients. Consider our Superfoods as a convenient source of needed nutrients. Hoodia Gordonii is the botanical name for a leafless, spiky succulent plant that grows throughout the dry areas of the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa. The local tribes, the San Bushmen, have used Hoodia as an appetite suppressant for their long hunting expeditions. The Bushmen do not eat the skin or spines of the Hoodia plant.
Hoodia is a protected plant, which means you would need a permit to export Hoodia. CITES (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) issues permits only to companies that are legally allowed to export Hoodia. Transforming wild Hoodia Gordonii growing in Africa into a supplement is not simple. It takes 2,000 pounds of genuine Hoodia gordonii cactus cores to make 100 pounds of Hoodia Gordonii powder. The P57 compound (the concentrated powder) is not to be taken lightly. You could grow your own hoodia cactus, if you could stand the stench of the Hoodia cactus flowers. Just remember, the San only ate Xhoba (that’s what they call it) for survival purposes, not because they had eating disorders or some body image problem. Their lifestyle did not let them put on weight …
How Does Hoodia Work?
Clinical trials were conducted on an obese group of people who were confined in a special closed unit. All the volunteers could do was read, watch television, and eat. Half were given Hoodia Gordonii, half placebo. Fifteen days later, the group taking the Hoodia Gordonii appetite suppressants had reduced their food intake by 1000 calories a day. Despite having all the food they could eat – the Hoodia Supplements made them feel full and help them to lose weight. Dr Alvaro Viljoen, a lecturer in pharmacology and chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said: “I believe that this is going to be huge, far bigger than Viagra. Judging from the magnitude of the obesity problem, this will be enormously big. I don’t think we can even begin to comprehend the impact economically.”
The San Tribe of South Africa has for thousands of years used the Hoodia cactus as an appetite suppressant. Although not much has been mentioned about this Kalahari Desert cactus in the mainstream media to date, the day Pfizer launched what it perceives to be the obesity solution of all time, the interest in the plant has grown explosively. Hoodia cacti are native to the semi-deserts of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. There are about 20 species in this family but the gordonii is the one that contains a natural appetite suppressant. The Bushmen call it “Xhoba”. The Hoodia cactus is quite common and varieties can be purchased for your garden, although growing gordoniis for your own use is not the answer since they are slow growing, bitter tasting and produce stinky flowers that attract flies to pollinate them.
The reason it has taken so long to bring this natural compound to the marketplace has to do with modern research methodology since the effects were first observed in 1937 by a Dutch anthropologist studying the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. He noticed that they munched on the stem of a certain variety of Hoodia plant as an appetite suppressant and thirst quencher before and during nomadic hunts through the sparsely vegetated area. The San, who can trace their heritage back 27,000 years with rock paintings in their territory, are one of the world’s oldest and most primitive tribes. They have known about the properties of Xhoba for thousands of years. Unlike the western hunger suppressants, ephedra, caffeine, and amphetamines, that produce jittery feelings, Hoodia alleviates hunger and thirst, plus also provides a state of alertness. Xhoba is an ideal choice for long hunts where prey is tracked over hundreds of miles.
Hoodia sat on the back shelf in a lab for almost thirty years when South African scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) began studying it. Lab animals fed the flesh of the cactus lost weight, but otherwise suffered no ill effects. It was during these tests that CSIR researchers discovered the plant contained a previously unknown molecule, which has since been christened P57. CSIR, which patented the compound in 1997, sold the license to a Cambridgeshire, England bio-pharmaceutical company by the name of Phytopharm plc, which in 1998, subleased it and the marketing rights to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Corporation for US$32 Million plus royalties from future sales.
CSIR has been accused of selling something that didn’t belong to it in the first place although it claims to have the best interests of the San at heart. The San and their attorneys have a different opinion, however. As for the Bushmen, the unhappy current situation finds many of them smoking large quantities of marijuana, suffering from alcoholism, and having neither possessions nor any sense of the value of money. The San in Botswana and Namibia are often regarded as a nuisance by authorities and herded into towns where they have few skills with which to earn a living. They were persecuted by the apartheid regime in South Africa. The current Mandela government has granted them ownership of more than 40,000 hectares, (155 square miles) of marginal quality land.
Effects of Hoodia
According to Dixey, the hypothalamus is the organ affected by the P57 molecule because it’s the location of the “nerve cells that sense glucose sugar… When you eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, [and] these cells start firing [so you feel full]. What the Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that is about 10,000 times more active than glucose. It goes to the [hypothalamus] and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full. But you have not eaten. Nor do you want to.” Phytopharm performed the first animal trials, choosing rats because they are “creatures who will eat literally anything.” When fed the cactus, they stopped eating completely.
According to a January 4, 2003 article in The Guardian (UK), “Some [San] elders attribute aphrodisiac qualities to the plant, though Pfizer, which also makes Viagra, has not marketed that angle.” This produces an interesting conundrum for Pfizer since the FDA now grants only single-use patents. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of the U.S. male population uses Viagra which is contraindicated for those with heart and circulatory problems. This is purportedly not true of Hoodia. With time running out on Viagra’s patent (the drug giant can apply for an extension), which will be more lucrative: a fat-loss pill or a male potency enhancer? Let’s see if they apply for separate patents for the same compound under two trade names in the attempt to make profit from both uses.