At this time, no adequate studies have been conducted on the effectiveness and safety of hoodia. Before taking hoodia, let your healthcare provider know if you have liver disease, kidney disease, or other health problems. Make sure the manufacturer of your hoodia product is a trusted and reputable manufacturer, because sometimes what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle.
Hoodia is an herbal supplement often used for weight loss (see Weight Loss Pills). However, because no adequate hoodia studies have been performed and published, it is impossible to know whether it is safe for most people. You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking hoodia if you have:
- Liver disease, including liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any other chronic disease or health problem.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of hoodia include the following:
- In the United States, herbal and other dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods. This means that they do not have to meet the same standards as drugs and over-the-counter medications for proof of safety, effectiveness, and what the FDA calls Good Manufacturing Practices (although new laws and regulations are trying to improve the manufacturing practices). It is important to realize that no published studies have demonstrated that hoodia is either safe or effective.
- Drugs and supplements are often cleared from the body using the liver and kidneys. If you have liver or kidney failure, it is possible that your body may not handle hoodia as well as it should.
- It is not known whether it is safe to combine hoodia with other drugs or supplements (see Hoodia Interactions for more information).
- It is not known whether hoodia is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Hoodia and Pregnancy and Hoodia and Breastfeeding).
- If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than their label states. Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your hoodia product is a trusted and reputable manufacturer. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). It is also a good sign if a product has the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal, which means that the product has been independently tested and shown to contain the correct ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.