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Garcinia Cambogia, Another Traditional Health Food From Afar

Optimal Health Systems
October, 2010

Regular readers of the Optimal Health Systems archive have recently read about the health benefits of green tea, garlic, vinegar, beets, bee pollen, alfalfa, cacao, olive oil, Mexican yam, and more. But Garcinia cambogia?

Say what?

Garcinia cambogia, a small, exotic fruit similar to a tiny pumpkin, is likely still unknown to many in the western world, but it has been in use for thousands of years in India and Asia as a digestive aid, to relieve constipation and intestinal parasites, and to treat fevers, dysentery, open wounds, ulcers and tumors. In addition, garcinia has long been a central ingredient in curries and many other dishes in its native India and Southeast Asia. It’s a good bet that not too far down the road, the potent extracts from the little fruit may be almost as familiar in the weighty West as it is in the ancient Far East!


Because researchers, scientists and alternative health practitioners in recent years have become increasingly interested in garcinia as a potential aid in weight loss. The major phyto-constituent in garcinia rind is Hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been found to suppress the fatty acid synthesis. It works by filling the glycogen stores in the liver and other tissues, thereby reducing appetite while increasing energy levels. Garcinia lowers the production of triglycerides and cholesterol and may also increase thermogenesis (the burning of calories). Importantly, it is thought that, unlike chemical stimulants commonly used in weight loss products, garcinia does not act negatively on the central nervous system; thus, no side effects of insomnia, nervousness, or changes in blood pressure and heart rate. A primary mode of HCA action appears to be its ability to inhibit ATP-citrate lyase, an enzyme that helps to form the building blocks of fatty acids and cholesterol by promoting the conversion of carbohydrates into fat. “When this enzyme is inhibited from carrying out its intended part in the body’s metabolism, the process of carbohydrate oxidation is boosted; in other words, the excess carbohydrate is burned off or changed into energy.” (Darrell Miller,

Miller goes on to explain the further interaction of HCA with serotonin, a natural chemical found in the central nervous system that has many regulatory effects on the body, including appetite. As you get hungry, serotonin is released in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that regulates sleep and eating. The release of serotonin increases when you see or smell food and stops when the hypothalamus experiences repletion or satisfaction. Garcina cambogia extract has the effect of quickly stimulating the emission of serotonin into the hypothalamus, and so suppresses your hunger rapidly.

According to, the findings of a recent animal study showed that when obese animals were given garcinia extracts for three months, they experienced significant weight loss, particularly in the abdominal area. They also showed a substantial reduction in fatty protein levels present in the blood and an increase in the number of red blood cells, suggesting that garcinia could prove useful in the treatment of anemia. Similar results were reported in test rats by Japanese scientists from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition. And in Poland’s Poznan University of Medical Science, scientists worked with 103 obese human volunteers over a three-month period. While all the volunteers had the same diet, half of them received supplements of garcinia and chromium and the other half received a placebo. Those receiving the garcinia and chromium extracts experienced a substantially greater reduction in weight and body fat.

According to a study carried out by the National Cancer Institute, there is no documented toxicity effects on humans, and there is no regulation regarding the use of garcinia cambogia. In fact, it is included on the USDA’s list of Perennial Edible Fruits.

While extensive research indicates that garcinia cambogia shows great potential as a weight loss aid, it must be emphasized that the extract is not a magic weight loss pill and will likely have no significant effect on a sugary and fatty diet. Those committed to losing or maintaining weight naturally should maintain a healthy diet by reducing or eliminating consumption of refined sugar and flour as well as junk and processed foods.

Miller concludes his article thus: “…..there is ample evidence to suggest that a regular intake of the (garcinia) extract is beneficial—and not only with respect to the maintenance of healthy weight!”

For instance, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “the plant has been attributed with anti-inflammatory properties and has been found useful in cases of acne.”


But, most promising of all, the funny little fruit garcinia cambogia could prove beneficial in the fight against two of modern society’s most deadly diseases—cancer and the new drug-resistant superbug MRSA (Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus)!

Japanese scientists from the International Institute of Biotechnology in Gigu, found that garcinia rind contains a powerful natural chemical called xanthochymol. This chemical is able to inhibit the growth and speed up the destruction of abnormal and cancerous cells in the body. Scientists at the China Pharmaceutical University followed up on the Japanese studies and found that extracts of garcinia inhibit cancerous cell growth by interfering with enzymes needed for cancer cell division and development.

In the case of MRSA—a nasty antibiotic-resistant bacteria that appeared in recent years and is a threat especially to old, sick and weak hospital patients and those with damaged immune systems—scientists at the Prince of Songkhla University in Thailand, have found that garcinia extracts are effective at blocking the growth of the MRSA bug. The MRSA bug manifests in the eruption of hard-to-heal boils, abcesses and septic wounds on the skin and/or nose. Sometimes it may result in heart-valve problems, toxic shock syndrome and, in extreme cases, even death. In addition to fighting MRSA, the scientists report that garcinia blocks other harmful bacteria and fungi, including Candida albicans, which causes thrush, and Cryptococcus, which causes pneumonia.

So, research is stepping up on this therapeutic little fruit referred to variously as Gambooge, Malabar tamarind, Brindle berry and others (there are 50 to 300 different types of garcinia), that most people had never heard of a few years ago!

The pinelike garcinia tree has only been established in plantations since the late 20th century, according to Wikipedia and already, the largest importers of garcinia cambogia are the United States, Japan and Europe. It is now cultivated all over its native Southeast Asia and other tropical countries, but the major exporters to date are India, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brazil.

Quality garcinia cambogia extract can be found in good health food stores and supplements. It may also be recommended by physicians who are knowledgeable in the field of nutrition and natural and alternative medicine. Although it has no known adverse effects in healthy adults, some experts advise that it should not be taken by children under five, or pregnant and lactating women before consulting their medical practitioner.

Garcinia cambogia is one of the key ingredients in Optimal Health Systems’ Opti-Trim.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.