A Miracle Supplement? Concerns and Side Effects of Garcinia Cambogia

  • Published on February 5th, 2014

Every so often the curiosity bug bites me and I venture into the abyss of my email “junk” folder to see if anything important has been improperly filed. More often than not, this activity is simply an exercise in killing time. But, on some days my eye catches something unique that I’m compelled to explore. This week, after what appears to be a very concerted effort by the folks at Miracle Garcinia Cambogia to get me interested in their weight loss miracle, I decided to click through to learn more about this supposed wonder pill. What I found wasn’t really that unexpected: scripted testimonials and pseudoscience claiming that garcinia combogia is the latest and greatest weight loss supplement. However, with journalistic objectivity in mind, I thought it might be fun to look a little deeper into the matter so that we can each make the most informed decision possible concerning our health and supplements in general.

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According to their website, Miracle Garcinia Cambogia (related to tamarind!) claims that their weight-loss supplement suppresses appetite; prevents fat from being made; helps the body burn fat; and increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the brain chemicals responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Extracted from the skin of the garcinia cambogia fruit native to Southeast Asia and India, HCA (hydroxycitric acid) inhibits the metabolic process that converts excess carbohydrates to fat. According to Dr. Chen, who recently appeared on the Dr. Oz show, garcinia cambogia works by slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream and reduces stress associated with holding excess weight. Also, in this article from the Wall Street Journal, reviewers noted that many supplements may not contain the proper amount of the effective compound and may instead contain unnecessary and unwanted fillers and binders.

However, the website LiveScience claims that the evidence supporting the use of garcinia combogia is pretty weak and tracking the effectiveness of supplements containing it would be difficult. Although the benefits are not proven, there is some pretty solid evidence of the side effects of garcinia cambogia. Garcinia may lower a person’s blood sugar to the point that it interferes with diabetes treatment, may interfere with the health of pregnant and lactating women, and may be a problem for patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Basically, it may help some and it may harm others.

My opinion on the matter is a little more concrete. “Miracle” supplements like garcinia combogia that make extravagant claims like rapid weight loss are nothing more than gimmicks that prey on our insecurities and self-doubt. Although they may work for some, placing our faith and a tremendous amount of money in a magic pill, powder or whatever is misguided and unsustainable when it comes to improving health and vitality. More than likely, any benefit that is received without making the necessary lifestyle changes that promote long-term health will be lost when supplement use is discontinued.

Instead of participating in this roller coaster of weight loss and gain, which can be quite detrimental to our physical and emotional wellbeing, establishing a healthy dietary philosophy that best supports our current circumstance and nutritional need is a much more reasonable and sustainable to find your ideal weight and maximize health. Developing a routine that emphasizes nutrient dense foods, allows mindful indulgences, supports existing health concerns and establishes personal accountability is a great place to start in developing a healthy dietary philosophy. A few suggestions that might facilitate the process, include:

  • Eat a substantial breakfast, moderate lunch, and minimal dinner, while snacking healthfully in between.
  • Eat vegetables at every meal, including breakfast.
  • Wait 20 minutes after each meal and honestly assess your hunger before returning for seconds.
  • Prepare a homemade meal five days a week.
  • Pack the following days breakfast and lunch before bed.
  • Drink a 16 oz. glass of room temperature water upon waking (here are some other morning tips to help you feel well!)

What will work best is completely dependent upon the unique circumstance and disposition of each individual. However, any and every healthy habit that promotes physical and emotional wellbeing is a valuable tool in journey towards a healthy, happy and vibrant life. Ditch the miracle drugs and buy into the lifestyle changes that can permanently change your health and wellness.

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About the Author

A holistic nutritionist in the making, Matthew spends the majority of his time trying to unravel the beautifully complex relationship between food, health and spiritual well-being. While this may sound like a somewhat glamorous pursuit, his daily journey towards enlightenment often begins and ends in front of a computer or textbook with the occasional retreat to the kitchen to rejuvenate his mind and body. When not enthralled in his quest to greater understanding, Matthew can be found attempting some insane test of physical endurance on the highways of Arizona, eating peanut butter and banana bagel sandwiches in his pajamas, or watching cartoons with his amazing fiance and puppy. If you're interested in joining Matthew on his journey to health and wellness, please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@veggiematthew), Facebook or at his blog.