Dr. Oz’s Holy Grail Garcinia Cambogia: Will It Drop Your Weight Without Diet or Exercise?

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008
Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Oz has come out strongly in support of Garcinia Cambogia, the rind of a fruit. As he himself doesn’t profit from selling it, that doesn’t stop everyone else from having a field day. When he says that Garcinia is “the holy grail” that is basically telling supplement manufacturers to start counting the dollars.

He had an M.D. in integrative medicine talk about how Garcinia blocks the creation of fat. But a recent review of plant supplements for appetite suppression did not find that Garcinia alone was effective. Since the studies are being done in conjunction with diet and exercise, it is necessary to have subjects only do Garcinia without any other lifestyle improvements to see if there is any effect from the rind at all. So far the studies that show positive results are diet plus exercise plus garcinia and are short term.

The good news is that the rind has not been shown to be toxic in short-term studies, although that researcher notes that the weight loss studies on Garcinia are mixed. Another researcher found that Garcinia caused cell changes in mice.

One reason for the mixed results in weight loss may be that Garcinia leaves have been shown to be a diuretic, causing rats to lose more water weight.

Another may simply be that Garcinia is not “the holy grail.” In a 2008 Japanese study of overweight individuals using Garcinia over a year found that Garcinia did reduce oxidative damage, but the result over the year showed an INCREASE in cholesterol, blood sugar and HA1C, a marker for diabetes.

I found this study in ten minutes of medline research. It is disturbing for me to realize that is likely more research than was done by the “expert” on the show. When we start using hyperbole like “holy grail” when a supplement has very mixed reviews, we give people false hope and distract from the difficult daily choices they must make.

The bottom line is that no plant supplement replaces taking control of your lifestyle.

Here’s the complete Japanese study abstract:

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Mar;42(2):89-103. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.2008014.

Effects on the Human Body of a Dietary Supplement Containing L-Carnitine and Garcinia cambogia Extract: A Study using Double-blind Tests.


Anti-Aging Medical Research Center, Doshisha University, Kyoto 610-0394, Japan.


The effect of a dietary supplement with L-carnitine (600 mg/day) and Garcinia cambogia extract (500 mg/day as hydroxycitric acid) as main ingredients was studied in 35 healthy volunteers {48.3 +/- 6.9 years, body mass index (BMI): 26.3 +/- 1.7} in a double-blind test (18 subjects in the Test Group and 17 in the Control Group). The yearly examination includes the standard yearly medical tests done in Japan, tests for assessing hormonal age, and a survey for assessing physical and mental fitness of the subjects, called the Anti-Aging QOL Common Questionnaire (AAQol). Use of this supplement significantly improved the level of lipid peroxides (-12.8%) in the blood as well as physical symptoms such as “tired eyes,” “blurry eyes,” “muscle pain/stiffness,” “early satiety,” “epigastralgia,” “dizziness,” “arthralgia” and “easily breaking into a sweat.” The Control Group showed a significantly favorable improvement rate, especially for “dizziness.” On the other hand, groups of subjects using the test compounds saw a significant rise in total cholesterol (4.5%), fasting blood sugar (4.1%) and HbA1c (3.4%). Our findings suggest that the consumption of the supplement can reduce the oxidative damage; however, the effect on QOL was equivocal. Garcinia cambogia extract did not show dietary efficacy.



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