Hoodia is primarily used for suppressing appetite to help with weight loss. Unlike medications, supplements (such as hoodia) can be marketed without being shown to be safe and effective. Since no studies have been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of Hoodia use, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and possible risks before taking the herbal supplement.
Hoodia is an herbal supplement that supposedly works to suppress the appetite and, therefore, help people lose weight. It comes from a cactus-like plant that grows in South Africa.
With obesity on the rise (see Obesity Statistics), many people are searching for products to help with weight loss. Although the ideal weight loss plans focus on gradual weight loss by healthy eating and increased exercise (see How to Lose Weight), many people have difficulty following such plans (or feel they need extra assistance in their efforts). Before turning to drastic measures such as weight loss surgery, many people consider using weight loss pills, especially if they have unsuccessfully tried to control their obesity (and exercise and diet have been ineffective).
There are a few prescription weight loss drugs as well as one non-prescription medication (Alli™) that have been approved by the FDA. Hoodia is not one of these medications. In fact, because it is a supplement, hoodia is regulated by the FDA as a food, not a drug. This means that unlike medications, supplements can be marketed without being shown to be safe and effective, although there are restrictions on what exactly these products can claim to do. Perhaps even more importantly, the manufacturing of supplements is not closely regulated, and many supplements do not actually contain the ingredients they claim to contain. They may contain no active ingredients, or (more dangerously) they may contain other active ingredients that are not listed on the product label.