Garcinia Cambogia: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, Reviews
Garcinia cambogia has exploded in popularity in recent years, though it has been a slow-burning product for fat burning for at least twenty years in the United States. What is garcinia cambogia? What are the benefits of taking it, and how does that compare to the relative risks? Who shouldn’t take Garcinia cambogia? What forms of garcinia cambogia are available, and which one may be right for you? And how can you tell if you’re taking a safe and effective garcinia cambogia supplement?
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is an Indonesian herbal remedy, though the citrus fruit is found across Southeast Asia. The pumpkin-like fruit ranges from green to yellow in color. The scientific name for this plant is Garcinia gummi-gutta. Famous names for it include the Malabar tamarind, brindleberry, the kudam puli and just garcinia. In India, the herb is called kankusta or vrikshamla.
Westerners sometimes mistake it for garcinia hanburyi. That herbal remedy is regularly used to expel worms and treat constipation. Do not take garcinia cambogia and a similar herb at the same time unless you’re intending on going through a colon cleanse, because it will aggravate your digestive tract.
Garcinia cambogia is promoted as a natural supplement to suppress appetite and lose weight. The main chemical ingredient in it for this purpose is hydroxycitric acid. The fruit extract is also used in making a variety of curries because it is thought to aid digestion. It has been used along with or in place of tamarind to make meals more filling, though it was also used as a flavoring agent and condiment in and of itself.
The attraction of herbal remedies like garcinia cambogia is manifold. There are few drugs on the market to prevent obesity, and there are relatively few herbs that aid weight loss without a high cost, both financially and physically. Many weight loss drugs are stimulants, and more than one has been pulled from the market for causing heart palpitations or even death.  This makes herbal remedies particular attractive since they have safety records that in theory go back thousands of years. Garcinia cambogia has been part of Ayurvedic medicine so we can assume it is generally safe compared to prescription drugs that just arrived on the market. That massive knowledge base also gives us an understanding of the potential side effects, risks, and complications that come from using the herb.
Garcinia Cambogia Benefits
Garcinia cambogia is linked to increased levels of energy and a better mood. Garcinia cambogia is sometimes used to help those dealing with a loss of appetite and encourage people to eat healthier food. Ironically, the garcinia cambogia is also linked to reduced appetite. This is thought to be due to the supplement’s impact on serotonin levels. For this reason, it could minimize over-eating brought on by stress and lack of interest in food from depression.  We cannot recommend garcinia cambogia as a treatment for depression, though HCA increasing serotonin levels in the brain could cause that.
A 2013 meta-analysis of fourteen studies found that most plant extracts didn’t reduce body weight through appetite suppression except for Caralluma Fimbriata extract and Garcinia Cambogia. Garcinia cambogia caused twice as many cases of a digestive upset as those who were taking the placebo. We do need to state that the reason they didn’t snack as much or eat as much as meals were not directly due to the somewhat more significant rate of digestive upset since most people taking garcinia cambogia didn’t suffer those ill effects.
Garcinia cambogia has a substantial, positive impact on one’s blood sugar levels. It does this by improving intake of glucose by cells. It may also inhibit the uptake of consumed carbohydrates. HCA inhibits pancreatic alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase in the intestines, impacting the carbohydrate metabolism.  You know you’re taking too much or suffering from blood sugar issues when the supplement causes “brain fog.”
Garcinia cambogia can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It both increases good cholesterol and lowers blood serum cholesterol. Furthermore, it reduces triglyceride levels. 
Garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid or HCA. This substance interferes with an enzyme that is involved in fat storage. This is why hydroxycitric acid is linked to weight loss and, specifically, fat loss. Interestingly, garcinia cambogia is related to fat loss and weight loss though someone is on a high-fat diet. The weight loss benefits are moderate but demonstrated in scientific studies.  One unusual finding was that the weight loss benefits and improvement in blood lipids were higher in women than in men.  The treatment group saw increases in weight, BMI and waist-hip ratio. These benefits were seen by those who took the supplement three times a day over sixty days. In this study, their insulin levels and leptin levels didn’t change significantly. Increased weight loss was in the range of a pound a month in that study. In this study, the dosage was 800 mg of garcinia cambogia extract with 50% HCA taken three times a day. You could see even more significant weight loss by taking the supplement, adopting a healthier diet and increasing your activity level. There isn’t much data that suggests a higher dosage would result in more significant weight loss. You could, however, take garcinia cambogia extract with a higher level of HCA twice a day or take a real pill of 100% garcinia cambogia once a day and likely achieve the same results.
In theory, these improvements in one’s blood chemistry would lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Losing weight, especially those pounds packed on around your belly, would do the same. There isn’t much data on the safety or benefits of taking garcinia cambogia long term. For that reason, we’d recommend garcinia cambogia as a way to accelerate weight loss and improved BMI over a few months but not suggest taking it every day for years as a maintenance medication. You could take garcinia cambogia to jumpstart your weight loss and help you stick to your diet until you’re set in the new ways, and then drop the weight loss pill. If your weight starts creeping up, you could resume taking the weight loss supplement.
Garcinia cambogia is regularly sold as an anti-inflammatory and treatment for conditions like rheumatism. The critical component in garcinia cambogia has been found in the lab to have anti-inflammatory properties, but its ability to treat these conditions in the human body isn’t as well documented. 
Garcinia cambogia is touted as a way to improve one’s endurance and energy level, but aside from lifting one’s mood, there isn’t strong evidence for that.
Something that hasn’t been as well studied is the impact of taste on food consumption. Garcinia cambogia, when used as a spice, makes curries sour. If this literally isn’t per your tastes, then you may eat less just because the meal doesn’t taste as good. Garcinia cambogia can cause digestive upset like nausea. That, too, could lead people to eat only what is necessary. Note that garcinia cambogia will not prevent excess calories from being absorbed, so don’t use the supplement as an excuse to eat more than usual.
Garcinia cambogia is sometimes advertised as an immunity booster. This is partially true. It is derived from a fruit rich in vitamin C. Taking vitamin C helps your body fight off influenza and prevents disorders like scurvy. We do want to note that there isn’t much vitamin C in most garcinia cambogia supplements, though there may be someone who combined that weight loss herbal remedy with a citrus extract. If you need vitamin C, take a vitamin that contains it or just have a glass of orange juice. We can say this because studies have shown that taking garcinia cambogia had no impact on antioxidants in the blood of those who took it. 
Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects
We know from a variety of studies that Garcinia cambogia is generally safe to take for up to 12 weeks. That data comes from many medical trials. Ayurvedic medicine suggests it can be taken much longer. One of the benefits of garcinia cambogia is that it doesn’t have any known, severe interactions with prescription medications. It is incredibly safe.
Garcinia cambogia can irritate your digestive tract, causing nausea and diarrhea in some. Do not take Garcinia cambogia while taking laxatives, or you could suffer even worse diarrhea. Ironically, Garcinia cambogia is sometimes sold as part of a colon cleanse; the colon “cleanse” will purge the Garcinia cambogia out of your system too fast to have any benefit.
While garcinia cambogia can elevate your mood, this can be bad if you’re already suffering from a mental illness that affects your mood. If you suffer from bipolar disorder or are taking antidepressants, talk to your doctor before you take garcinia cambogia, because it has been shown to cause hypomania.  Stop taking garcinia cambogia if you start to suffer from delusions, become highly irritable, suffer slurred speech or start having trouble sleeping. These symptoms mean the garcinia cambogia is triggering mania, and that’s dangerous. If you’re starting to feel irritable or irrational euphoria, you likewise need to stop taking garcinia cambogia. In these cases, consult with your doctor. You may be able to take garcinia cambogia at a lower level, or you’ll need to try something else.
Garcinia cambogia has been used to help lower the pH of fish to help preserve it, especially in conjunction with salt. The main benefit of garcinia and cambogia, in this case, was how well it killed bacteria when food was cured.  However, that doesn’t mean that garcinia cambogia can and should be used as a cure-all for any condition.
While garcinia cambogia is promoted as an anti-fungal product, no major scientific studies are showing this to be true in humans. Likewise, some Ayurvedic practitioners say it has anti-cancer effects, but we cannot recommend it for that purpose.  It has only been shown to work against some types of cancer in the lab.  This doesn’t mean you can’t gain some benefit from consuming fish curry, though. And its overall health benefits to your health cannot be denied.
Garcinia cambogia can cause dry mouth. That’s easily solved by drinking more water, something most of us need to do anyway.
Garcinia cambogia can cause headaches. Drinking water may alleviate this; that is especially true if your mouth is dry.
Garcinia Cambogia Warnings
If you take too much garcinia cambogia, it can cause liver damage.  In at least one case, this caused liver failure, necessitating a liver transplant.  We need to note that tamarind, too, contains HCA. Don’t take garcinia cambogia plus tamarind, or else you’ll get too much of that compound.
Do not take garcinia cambogia with alcohol or any other supplement that can cause liver damage. Do not take garcinia cambogia if you have hepatitis. If you are taking garcinia cambogia and start to suffer from jaundice or general fatigue, stop taking it and consult with a medical professional.
Garcinia cambogia can lower blood sugar. This means you need to talk to your doctor before taking Garcinia cambogia if you have diabetes or are taking medication to regulate your blood sugar.
Garcinia cambogia extract combined with another appetite suppressant raises safety concerns. That is why the FDA has ordered more than one removed from the market, the last in 2017.  In particular, avoid any Garcinia cambogia product that also contains sibutramine.
Garcinia cambogia itself doesn’t affect blood pressure, but Garcinia cambogia plus sibutramine can dramatically and even dangerously raise blood pressure. The best strategy here is to buy Garcinia cambogia supplements that only contain Garcinia cambogia and inert fillers.
Garcinia cambogia has not been tested for safety or effectiveness when pregnant, so pregnant women should avoid this supplement.
While garcinia cambogia interferes in fat storage, that isn’t an excuse to go on a high-fat diet and assume the extra calories won’t have an impact on your body. Consult with your doctor before taking garcinia cambogia as a way to lose weight if you already take a drug to control your blood sugar.
Garcinia Cambogia Reviews
The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate garcinia cambogia as a drug; it classifies garcinia cambogia as a supplement. This means there isn’t a government recommended dosage for garcinia cambogia. Manufacturers can determine how much they want to pack in the pill. When you’re shopping for garcinia cambogia pills, be careful of the dosage per capsule. Some manufacturers put very little in each pill and then tell you to take multiple pills. Paying a little more for a product that contains significantly more Garcinia cambogia may be a better overall value.
Some garcinia cambogia are sold with so little garcinia cambogia in them that you aren't really getting any at all. A depressing number of garcinia extract pill manufacturers fail laboratory quality and quantity testing, tests that prove the supplements contain as much garcinia cambogia as they say it does and that the supplements meet industry safety standards. This variation is understandable because studies show that the HCA level in garcinia fruit can vary wildly.  The HCA levels of fruit ranged from 2% to 16%, so sourcing and natural variety led to supplements containing anywhere from 5% HCA to 50% HCA per capsule. The issue was compounded by manufacturers who used the related garcinia indica herb in their supplements. That is why DNA barcoding and spectroscopy are being recommended to verify the claims of manufacturers regarding what their supplements contain.
The solution here is to select a garcinia cambogia supplement manufacturer whose product quality, product composition, and safety are assessed by an independent third party. And we’re sorry to say, but the “all natural” and “organic” labels mean nothing in this regard. Identify reputable garcinia cambogia manufacturers who sell safe supplements that deliver the dosage level you expect.
There are two main recommended dosing regimens. One recommendation is to take 800 to 1000 milligrams of standard extract twice a day. The other recommended dosage is 500 milligrams of garcinia cambogia four times a day, assuming it contains 50% HCA. If you're looking at garcinia cambogia teas, you'll need to figure out how much to make to get the right amount of the herb in your system. Garcinia cambogia pills are better than teas because you don't have to worry about getting less than expected because you didn't steep it long enough or threw out too much of the good stuff when you rinsed out the cup.
If you only have minor side effects, you can undoubtedly shift from 1000 mg to 800 mg taken twice a day. Note that if you suffer nausea or minor digestive upset while taking garcinia cambogia, you could switch from the larger dosage twice a day to a lower dosage more times a day. This is also a tactic to reduce side effects like dizziness or a headache if they aren’t terrible.
Read the reviews for the garcinia cambogia supplements you’re considering so that you can weed out those supplements that cause too many users to suffer ill effects. Don’t rely on a few glowing testimonials to gauge its effectiveness. Instead, look for garcinia cambogia supplements that have many positive reviews regarding its effectiveness. If the customer reviews of the garcinia cambogia supplement regularly say it doesn’t have any effect, you may want to try a different brand. Look for products that get regular reviews stating they have the intended desirable results and are consistent over time. You don't want to buy garcinia cambogia with inconsistent quality, such that one dose limits appetite but the next has no effect.
Take the time to learn about industry standards and certifications. If in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist for recommendations. Brands that have sold well for a long time are probably of good quality, too, since items that fall short of customer expectations don't last that long.
The Forms of Garcinia Cambogia You Can Buy
Garcinia cambogia is available in many forms. Garcinia cambogia pills are a favorite type of weight loss, and they’re taken like any other supplement. Note that many products saying they are garcinia cambogia extract are in pill form. Garcinia cambogia extract is periodically available as a powder, but that’s rarely consumed because of the taste. Garcinia cambogia liquids let you add a few drops to the beverage of your choice, though taste remains an issue. That is why the most commonly used form of garcinia cambogia extract is a pill. Garcinia tea is occasionally found in Western markets, but others use garcinia powder to make tea.
There are a few people selling patches with Garcinia cambogia extract, but those may or may not actually deliver any of the critical compounds into your system. You can find garcinia cambogia in lotions where the compounds are supposed to be absorbed through the skin; this is sometimes recommended for those who suffer digestive upset when they take garcinia supplements. That form is also popular for those using garcinia cambogia to treat rheumatism. We haven’t found any recent scientific studies in the West that show garcinia cambogia is useful in any form in treating disease or arthritis.
Garcinia cambogia has been repeatedly, scientifically demonstrated to reduce appetite and fat storage in healthy adults. It is linked to improved health metrics like lower cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar. It is incredibly safe to take as long as you don’t have a health condition that contraindicates its use. The keys to seeing these benefits include finding high-quality supplements that contain the level of garcinia cambogia that the manufacturer says they do doesn’t carry dangerous secondary drugs and comes in a form you can tolerate. This may require some research on your part and reading reviews before you select a garcinia cambogia product to take. However, garcinia cambogia is one of the safe weight loss pills you can find on the market.
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