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Weight Loss Feature Article

Hydroxycitric Acid for Weight Control


Also known as: Garcinia cambogia, HCA

Illustration

What is it?

(-)-Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a compound found in Garcinia cambogia, a type of fruit. HCA has a chemical structure similar to that of citric acid (the primary acid in citrus fruits).

Where is it found?

HCA is found in only a few plants, with one rich source being the rind of a little pumpkin-shaped fruit called Garcinia cambogia, which is native to Southeast Asia. This fruit (also called Malabar tamarind) is used as a condiment in dishes such as curry.


Why do dieters use it?*

Some dieters say that hydroxycitric acid

  • helps promote fat loss.

What do the advocates say?*

The promise of (-)-Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is based on animal studies that suggest it inhibits fat synthesis and perhaps suppresses appetite. Human studies have not been consistent, however, with one reporting no benefits while another reported improved results when combined with a weight-loss diet.


How much is usually taken by dieters?

HCA, extracted from the rind of the Garcinia cambogia fruit grown in Southeast Asia, has a chemical composition similar to that of citric acid (the primary acid in oranges and other citrus fruits). Preliminary studies in animals suggest that HCA may be a useful weight-loss aid.1 2 HCA has been demonstrated in the laboratory (but not yet in clinical trials with people) to reduce the conversion of carbohydrates into stored fat by inhibiting certain enzyme processes.3 4 Animal research indicates that HCA suppresses appetite and induces weight loss.5 6 7 8 However, a double-blind trial found that people who took 1,500 mg per day of HCA while eating a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks lost no more weight than those taking a placebo.9 A double-blind trial of Garcinia cambogia (2.4 grams of dry extract, containing 50% hydroxycitric acid) found that the extract did not increase energy expenditure; it was therefore concluded that this extract showed little potential for the treatment of obesity at this amount.10 Nonetheless, another double-blind trial found that using the same amount of Garcinia cambogia extract significantly improved the results of a weight-loss diet, even though the amount of food intake was not affected.11


Are there any side effects or interactions?

HCA has not been linked to any adverse effects.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with HCA.


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