Looking good and feeling great are two very important things we must acquire. Only then we are able to exude the kind of confidence like no other. But one detrimental factor that hinders us from achieving this is weight problem. Because of it, we shy away from the society for we know firsthand the kind of beauty standards the society sets.

In our looks-obsessed society, many people think that being overweight is an appearance issue. But regardless how being overweight affects your appearance, there is more serious problem that lies beneath your figures. Being overweight is actually a medical concern because it can seriously affect a person’s health. It may increase the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Fortunately, supplements come in a convenient package to help us get things done in our body. Supplements become a trend today for many people who want to lose weight and to get back in shape. One very popular supplement is garcinia cambogia.

What is Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia cambogia known as Garcinia gummi-gutta today is a small light-green or yellow pumpkin-shaped fruit commonly called also as Malabar tamarind and Brindleberry. This tree thrives in tropical countries such as Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Garcinia is a large genus in the Clusiaceae plant family which includes over 300 species of trees and shrubs (1). It is widely used in traditional recipes, as well as curries in a number of Asian countries. Various parts of the fruit and its extracts can be used for different flavor profiles, and it is also known as a traditional remedy for a wide range of pain and illnesses (2).

The hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a key active ingredient found in the rind of garcinia cambogia fruit, is what some research suggests that can help certain people lose weight (3). It is a derivative of citric acid, which is also found in certain other citrus and tropical fruits. Studies show that it has multiple sites of action, primarily in the liver and brain and is an inhibitor of citrate-cleavage enzymes (ATP-citrate lyase). Simply put, HCA can reduce the conversion of carbohydrates into stored fat by inhibiting certain enzyme processes (4). Hence, garcinia cambogia supplements with HCA are marketed for weight loss. Other than weight loss, garcinia cambogia has also been used as a dietary supplement for rheumatism, intestinal problems, and other conditions (5). Garcinia cambogia is made into a tea, capsules, extracts, tablets, and lotion.

Health Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia

1. Weight Loss

Garcinia cambogia might, in fact, be able to help with low amounts of fat loss. Preliminary studies show HCA can inhibit the enzymes involved in fat production while increasing glycogen storage in skeletal muscle after exercise (6). HCA works by blocking a certain enzyme called adenosine triphosphate-citrate-lyase, which contributes to the formation of fat cells (7). The meta-analysis reviewed results from 12 different trials involving this supplement and revealed a small, statistically significant difference in weight loss favoring use of garcinia cambogia products containing HCA slightly over use of a placebo (8). On average, garcinia cambogia has been shown to cause weight loss of about 2 pounds (0.88 kg) more than a placebo, over a period of 2–12 weeks (9). 

2. Improve Metabolism

Garcinia cambogia increases metabolism rate, which means even faster results in the weight-loss realm. When metabolism is increased, it means more immediate energy and less packaging of calories into adipose fat (10). HCA works on biochemical pathways that decrease LDL cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar and insulin response (11). Indeed, garcinia cambogia is able to create a more efficient metabolism. The metabolic process is actually a sequence of chemical reactions that keep the body in a constant state of imbalance (12). HCA helps to balance these reactions and make the process more efficient (13). As a result, the body uses more energy than it takes in causing it to tap the fat stores for fuel. Garcinia cambogia reduces fat and keeps excess weight down (14).

3. Suppress Appetite

Garcinia cambogia raises levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which may make you feel less hungry. The supplement prevents you from eating more than what your body needs since the food that you eat can be stored as fats in your body. These fats are used by your body as a source of energy but if these fats are unused, you can gain more weight. This supplement may reduce your appetite so your body can use your stored fats for energy. In studies conducted among rats show that those given garcinia cambogia supplements tend to eat less while some human studies found that garcinia cambogia suppresses appetite and makes you feel full (15). Studies suggest that the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia can increase serotonin in the brain and since serotonin is a known appetite suppressant, higher blood levels of serotonin could reduce your appetite (17). 

4. Reduces Stress

Preliminary studies showed the compound HCA present in the extract can regulate cortisol levels in the blood, which is one of the most common stress hormones (18). This supplement can help improve the health and functioning of all your organ systems, and cut down on oxidative stress throughout the body by reducing the level of stress hormones and controlling anxiety (19). Consuming garcinia cambogia may help at reducing stress and depression since it is said to increase the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is associated with calm and happy feelings (20). 

5. Helps lower Cholesterol

Garcinia cambogia improves cholesterol levels and lowers high triglycerides and might also be able to help raise HDL “good” cholesterol. As garcinia cambogia helps those who use it for weight loss, it may also optimize the cholesterol balance in the body. HCA and other compounds in this herb are able to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels (21). This will help reduce your likelihood of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, while also lowering blood pressure and giving you more energy for your daily tasks. The hypocholesterolemic effect of garcinia cambogia is confirmed by a study published in the Phytotherapy Research journal (22). 

6. Helps lower Blood Sugar

Some evidence exists showing that garcinia cambogia controls blood sugar by improving how cells take up glucose (sugar) to be used for energy (23). One way in which it might improve weight loss is through inhibition of pancreatic alpha amylase enzymes, changes in intestinal alpha glucosidase and alterations in fatty acid synthesis and this might be able to change how carbohydrates are metabolized (24).

Conclusion

Garcinia cambogia is indeed an amazing supplement not only for weight loss but for other outstanding health benefits as well. However, it is also revealed that taking this supplement can also lead to some side effects. Take caution when taking this supplement since it may lower a person’s blood sugar and can interact with diabetes treatments (25). It may also pose a problem for patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia (26). In addition, there are very few severe side effects of garcina cambogia like diarrhea, brain fog and, in rare cases, liver damage. Garcinia cambogia is pretty safe for short-term use especially 12 weeks or fewer (27). Excessive consumption of this plant can cause liver toxicity, ketoacidosis, and pancreatitis, so even after adding it to your health regimen, it should be taken in moderation (28). It is important to consult your health practitioner when considering taking this supplement.