Garcinia Cambogia Reviews: Does It Work or Not?

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Weight Loss supplements, love them or loathe them, there are hundreds and hundreds of ‘miracle’ products out there. It can be a real slog, trying to figure out which ones actually work. Whether they produce enough weight loss to be worth the effort and expense. Whether or not they have nasty side effects.

Review articles are hard to trust. A lot of time (not always) the review article is biased, because the reviewer want to sell you the supplement. I think we’ve probably all been taken in by fantastic claims at one time or another, especially with ones that promise that this or that miracle pill will melt away 20 pounds in 6 minutes flat, tone up every muscle it comes across, walk the dog, put dinner on the table and achieve world peace. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but if anyone knows of a pill like that I want in!

You’re here because you want some hard facts about garcinia cambogia, and my inquiring mind has found an itch that needs scratching, so I’m going to delve into the depths of the internet and bring you the lowdown on this weight loss supplement. I’m going to look at the claims made for garcinia cambogia extract, examine the evidence for those claims, look at the safety data and the side effects you might experience from this supplement and provide everything that you’ll need to know in order to form an opinion on whether garcinia cambogia is the right weight loss aid for you.

What Is Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia Cambogia Extract is taken from the rind of the malabar tamarind fruit which is native to Southeast Asia and India. The tamarind fruit has a long history of culinary use. It is used as a:

Souring agent, used in traditional Indian or Southeast Asian hot and sour curries

Food preservative, coloring agent and curing agent – notably for curing fish.

According to a study carried out by Purdue University, the fruit is rich with calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, which makes it a nutritious food to eat.

But the weight loss claims aren’t connected to actual fruit, those claims are reserved for a constituent found in the rind of the fruit. The active ingredient which has been identified in the rind is hydroxycitric acid (HCA)

What Are The Claims?

weight loss

Lose 10 pounds in thirty days!

Blocks fat – by inhibiting the production of Citrate lyase, an enzyme that plays a role in producing fat from excess sugars and starches

Lessens hunger – by stimulating increased production of Serotonin, which signals to the brain that enough food has been consumed. This can result in decreased hunger, and a lowered calorie intake. Low serotonin levels are also associated with emotional or reactive eating.

Garcinia cambogia also claims to specifically decrease belly fat and change body composition by increasing lean muscle mass.

Additional benefits are an alleged improvement in overall health, a reduction in the levels of bad LDL cholesterol and an increase in levels of the good HDL cholesterol, a decreased risk of diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease and ulcers.

Sounds good. A natural weight loss aid that boosts fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass, with an overall health enhancing bonus.

What Does The Science Say?

In studies carried out on rats, garcinia cambogia extract has shown promising results. It was able to reduce the metabolic disturbances caused by a high fat diets, reduce visceral fat and stop fat accumulation, although it was highly toxic to the rat’s testicles. And garcinia cambogia displayed an ability to selectively inhibit gene expression related to abdominal fat gain.

But that was in rats. In humans, unfortunately the results were not so good.

When compared to placebo, 1500 mg of garcinia cambogia extract per day failed to produce significant weight loss or fat mass loss in overweight humans.

400 mg of garcinia cambogia taken before meals (as recommended by suppliers), failed to suppress appetite or increase feelings of satiety in overweight humans.

A 2012, review of the human evidence concluded that little evidence exists for garcinia cambogia’s weight loss effects.

So why is this weight loss supplement so popular?

Well, other research has found that garcinia cambogia extract does indeed cause significant weight loss.

In 2004 Dr Harry Preuss carried out an 8 week human study involving  30 “healthy but overweight people” between the ages of 21 and 50, in Elluru, India

All of the subjects were required to consume a diet of 2,000 calories per day. They were also asked to walk for 30 minutes five days each week.

The individuals were divided into 3 groups.

Those in group A were given HCA-SX 4,667 mg (60% HCA providing 2,800 mg hydroxycitric acid.

Those in group B were given a combination of HCA-SX 4,667 mg, Niacin Bound Chromium 4 mg and GSE 400 mg (providing 100 mg gymnemic acid).

Group C were given a placebo.

By the end of the study, both of the treatment groups A and B had lost 6-7% of their body weight and had a comparable reduction in BMI. There was no significant reduction observed in the placebo group.

The study also found that those taking HCA group saw their serotonin levels double compared to the placebo group and achieve a 16% reduction in the amount of food they ate per meal, compared to the placebo group.

So we’ve got some conflicting results there haven’t we?

What Do Users Say?

Well according to some users on Amazon,  it’s more impressive than the second coming of christ, while for others it been beyond a waste of time and money. It’s one thing to see no results, but to see no results and feel like **ap, is quite a kick in the teeth.

Here’s a sampling of review titles from the best selling product on Amazon. First in the 5 star camp, we have delight and happy dances all round.

  • Lost 6lbs in 2 weeks
  • Love it
  • It’s The real Deal
  • Unbelievable Weight Loss
  • Dropped 6lbs in 1 Week
  • Lost 12lbs in 2 Weeks
  • Lost 60lbs in 4 Months
  • No Longer A Sceptic
  • So Far Lost 11 lbs in 2 weeks Just Taking This pills, ZERO exercise
  • Good product! Lost 15lbs in 30 Days

While in the 1 star camp we have disappointment and contempt.

  • No Weight Loss
  • Waste Of Money
  • Stay Away Fake Reviews
  • This Nurse Does Not Recommend
  • Awful
  • By The Third Day – Awful Stomach Cramps
  • Does Not Help With Appetite Control
  • Horrible Experience
  • Don’t Fall For Scams And Snake Oil Folks
  • 20 Dollars Worth Of Placebos

Pretty polarized opinions there wouldn’t you say? A lot of the glowing reviews state that they have received a free bottle in exchange for a review. And it’s well known that people are paid to leave fake reviews for all kinds of products on Amazon. Amazon are trying to fight back against that practise but they have an uphill struggle.

What Are The Side Effects?

People with diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are advised to avoid this supplement. Additionally anyone taking medication that affects blood sugar should only use garcinia cambogia under a doctor’s supervision.

People with a high risk for, or history of rhabdomyolysis should only use Garcinia Cambogia under medical supervision.

People taking statins, should seek medical advice before taking this supplement as the combination of garcinia cambogia and statins could increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis.

If you take warfarin, this supplement could be problematic.

People who take asthma and allergy medications should not take garcinia cambogia.

Those with Alzheimer’s or dementia should not use garcinia cambogia because of the possibility of forming acetylcholine in the brain.

If you are trying to conceive, are already pregnant or are breastfeeding you should not use this supplement.

Side effects reported by users include:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Jitters
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dizziness

How Much Do You Need To Take?

The studies that reported actual weight loss used 2.8mg a day of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). That daily dose should be spread out, so that you are taking one third of that amount before each meal.

Each dose should be taken 30-60 minutes before meals and should be taken with 8 ounces of water.

Garcinia cambogia extract is available in 500 to 1000mg capsules and the HCA content of those capsules should be 50-60%.

How Much Does Garcinia Cambogia Cost?

The number one selling garcinia cambogia supplement on Amazon retails at around $20 for a one month supply. That’s 90 capsules and less than one dollar a day. This isn’t a very expensive supplement. If it works.

Is There Any Controversy Over Garcinia Cambogia?

You betcha! Can you say class action lawsuit?

This year – 2016 – TV doctor Mehmet Oz is one of the defendants named in a class action lawsuit over claims that garcinia cambogia was a weight loss miracle.

In a 2013 show Dr Oz called garcinia cambogia  a “revolutionary fat buster” and the “most exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss today” as well as “the newest, fastest, fat buster.”

Viewers were given the impression that garcinia cambogia extract could help the pounds fall off with “no exercise, no diet and no effort”. To cement that impression viewers were introduced to a woman who said the supplement had helped her lose 10lb in four months.

In 2014 Dr Oz testified at a Congressional hearing that was hearing evidence about the weight loss claims made for three dietary supplements. Raspberry ketones, garcinia cambogia and green coffee extract.

During his testimony Dr Oz conceded that his language about all of those products had been “flowery,” and that “I recognize they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact but nevertheless I would give my audience the advice I give my family all the time.”

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration warned everyone to stop using a weight loss product that contained garcinia cambogia because of reports of liver problems in some people taking the supplement. The product contained other ingredients besides garcinia cambogia, so it’s unclear if garcinia cambogia itself is a problem. Some research suggests that it is safe for your liver, other research points to the opposite conclusion.

More confusion. Annoying isn’t it.

How To Choose A Garcinia Cambogia Supplement

How To Choose A Garcinia Cambogia Supplement

If you decide that you want to give this supplement a try, then you’ll obviously want to use one that has the active ingredient in it, instead of a bunch of fillers.

Some brands make the claim that they have been endorsed by celebrities or doctors. Take those with a pinch of salt. Celebrities get paid to promote things that they’ve never even tried, and at least two doctors have refuted claims that they endorse particular garcinia cambogia products.

Unscrupulous suppliers that want your money will say pretty much anything to get it. If they can package sugar pills in a nice bottle and charge you $20, then they’ll do it without losing a second of sleep.

To weed out the fake pills from ones that contain the genuine extract follow these tips

  • Buy from a retailer like Amazon who have a no quibble guarantee. If the supplement doesn’t work as claimed then you can get your money back.
  • Look for a product that contains at least 50% HCA -hydroxycitric acid.
  • Choose a supplement with added chromium and potassium.
  • Make sure your supplement is free from fillers and binders.
  • The supplement should say that it uses the rind of the tamarind fruit.
  • Read customer reviews, especially the ones that gave a bad review. Sellers pay people to write fake glowing reviews, so 5 star Amazon are hard to trust, especially for contentious products like weight loss supplements.
  • Choose a supplement that gives you at least 600mg a day of the active ingredient.
  • If a supplement is claiming that it uses a protected proprietary formula and doesn’t list the specific amounts of the ingredients present in the formula then it’s a fake product trying to con you.

Don’t buy from independent websites that are singing the praises of this supplement. Many get you to unwittingly sign up to a monthly supply agreement – via a supposed free trial – and then charge your card $100 or more each month.

So buyer beware!

Is It A Weight Loss Miracle?

I’m going to say that in my opinion no, it isn’t. And I’ll tell you why I say that.

The only scientific research that points to garcinia cambogias efficacy is the research carried out by Dr Preuss. That research certainly sounds impressive doesn’t it? All of the other studies just used the wrong kind of the supplement in the wrong way. Silly studies and their incompetent researchers, right?

Wrong!

Besides the fact that the Preuss studies haven’t been peer reviewed, there’s another problem with Dr Preuss’s research. A huge problem in fact. And it’s revealed in the class action lawsuit documentation, which you can go through right here if you would like to. Use ‘ctrl f’ and enter ‘Preuss’ to get to the parts that mention him directly.

The filing reveals that Dr Preuss is a paid spokesperson for Interhealth. Interhealth is one of the defendants being sued in the lawsuit.

Furthermore, the document says that “Dr. Preuss has co-authored over ninety clinical studies with Dr. Debasis Bagchi — Interhealth’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development. Almost every study finds that a herbal supplement extract of some kind is “effective” or “novel.”

That’s a pretty impressive research record. Most researchers find out that the substance they are testing has no benefits after all.

It turns out that many of the Preuss/Bachgi studies were carried out in India at the Laila Impex Research Center. The Laila Impex Research Center is operated by Laila Nutraceuticals who are one of India’s largest supplement exporters.

Supercitrimax® the supplement used in Dr Preuss’s research is actually manufactured by Laila Nutraceuticals.

Supercitrimax® is manufactured in India and then imported into the United States by Interhealth. The defendants did not disclose this fact and instead made assertions to the contrary saying that the products are made in the USA.

According to the document, Interhealth was assigned the patent rights to Supercitrimax® directly from Laila executives and at least two patents note that the assignor of those rights was Mr Ganga Raju who is the founder of the multi-billion dollar Laila Group of companies and is a member of India’s parliament.

You can take away whatever you want from that information. I’ll be charitable and say there is a definite conflict of interests. I don’t know about you, but things like that really send up a red flag for me. I like independent scientific research.

Final Verdict

If you’ve got $20 – $30 burning a hole in your pocket and you don’t mind taking a risk on painful stomach cramps (those would certainly stop you eating wouldn’t they) and other side effects, then it’s your money and your decision.

Independent research hasn’t found any weight loss benefits attributable to garcinia cambogia, while research linked to the manufacturers has.

My advice (if you want it), is to spend that money on some good quality vitamins and minerals so that your body has the nutrients that it needs. When you are nutritionally fed (and not just full of calories), your body stops hounding you with hunger signals and you get a natural reduction in your appetite. Plus a properly fed body has better blood sugar control and the ability to metabolize fat for energy.

Quick fixes are always appealing. We always want an easy way to get what we want. But when it comes to weight loss, there just are no quick fixes.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.