What is Hoodia Gordonii?

What is it?

Hoodia Gordonii is an herbal plant found in Southern Africa. It is being investigated for use as an appetite suppressant. The active ingredient identified is a steroidal glycoside labeled “p57”, which is found in Hoodia Gordonii.

What does it do?

As mentioned, Hoodia Gordonii is thought to have an effect in terms of controlling and suppressing appetite. One study published in the September 2004 issue of Brain Research, found that injections of p57 into the appetite center of rat brains resulted in altered levels of ATP, an energy molecule that may affect hunger. The animals receiving the P57 injections also ate less than rats that received placebo injections. Researchers from Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island described elegant animal experiments that show the effects of components of Hoodia on the central nervous system. The rat studies, performed by these researchers, led to their conclusion that an important mechanism of the regulation of food intake by the hypothalamus of the brain is the alteration of the contents of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the nerve cells of the hypothalamus. Energy content (i.e., ATP) in these nerve cells increased by a factor of 50-150% with Hoodia administration. Moreover, the manufacturer Phytopharm cites a clinical trial involving 18 human volunteers. Individuals who received the P57 Hoodia extract (Phytopharm PLC, UK) reduced their calorie intake in their diets, of their own free will, by about 1000 calories per day.

What side-effects does it have?

Jasjit S. Bindra, PhD, former researcher for Hoodia at Pfizer, stated in a letter to The New York Times that although Hoodia did appear to suppress appetite, there were indications of unwanted effects on the liver caused by components other than the active ingredient p57 that could not easily be removed during processing. Bindra added, “Clearly, Hoodia has a long way to go before it can earn approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Until safer formulations are developed, dieters should be wary of using it.” Other weight loss experts remain skeptical and do not recommend Hoodia to obese patients, including Adrienne Youdim, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Weight Loss Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Michael Steelman, MD, chairman of the board of trustees for the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. Youdim says, “There is no [published scientific] data to support its use.”

How should I use it?

Under the standard for a new dietary ingredient premarket Notification, dosage for Hoodia, as a dietary supplement, is recommended to be at the amount of 600mg per day, 300mg per serving, 2 servings per day and prepared in capsule form as a dietary supplement.


1. The Anti-Fat Pill and the Bushman, reported by Tom Mangold, Transcript of British Broadcasting Company documentary, June 1, 2003, pp. 23-25.

2. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al., Effect of Hoodia Plant on Food Intake and Body Weight in Lean and Obese LA/Ntul//cp-rats, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.4, p. A404 (2001)

3. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al., Effect of Hoodia Plant on Food Intake and Body Weight in Lean and Obese LA/Ntul//cp-rats, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.4, p. A654 (2002)

4. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al.,Mineral Content of Edible Hoodia Plant Species, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.5, p. A971 (2001)(Mineral Content)

5. Stumner, Robin, The Pill-Free Fat-Busting Machine, The Independent (London), September 7, 2003

6. Mangold, Tom. Magic Moledule…and the Millionaire Bushmen, The Age, June 23, 2003.