Diet Supplement Hoodia In Question - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/13/07

Diet Supplement Hoodia In Question

Imagine a wild plant that kills an appetite and could help fight the expanding belt line. The cactus like plant is called Hoodia.

Hoodia is only found in South Africa's Kalahari desert, but has become one of the hottest weight loss efforts in America. In fact, it's now listed as an endangered species by International Treaty because of increased popularity.

NewsChannel 11 wanted to know if the same trend was occurring in Lubbock.

Some area stores tell us they're having to increase orders just to keep this rare plant stocked. But while companies are cashing in, your belt line may not be getting any smaller, just your pocketbook.

When asked, Kayce Clark says she's seen it on the weight loss commercials on TV, while Nicole Chara says she's used it.

But Nicole says it didn't live up to the name.

Possibly because the Hoodia she took wasn't 100% the real thing. Currently the cactus like plant is not regulated by the FDA.

"Being under FDA regulation is a little more guaranteed of a safer product then if something is just considered a food supplement," says United Super Markets' Pharmacist John Floyd.

It's a supplement the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have been using it for thousands of years to ward of hunger and thirst during long hunting trips. But the rare plant only found in the desert of South Africa, is now one of the hottest selling weight loss remedies in Lubbock.

Ashley Howell, Living Well Specialist at United Super Markets says this is the latest diet craze.

"I've even had people in this store who have used it and come back and said they really liked it," says Howell.

 A smaller waist line also lured Dan Hadzic to use Hoodia.

"I tried Hoodia I struggled with weight issues, so I thought anything would be worth a try," says Hadzic.

Which he did for about a month, each half hour before lunch.

"It worked a little bit, but I had some bad side effects; a bad taste in my mouth"

"There aren't to my knowledge and I couldn't find any drug interaction records where it would be problem with anything known," says Floyd.

The drug manufacturer, Phytopharm claims Hoodia contains a compound that helps suppress the appetite, saying it goes to the mid brain, making those nerve cells feel as if you are full.

"Some of the very early studies indicate that it can reduce an individuals caloric intake by 1,000 calories a day," says Texas Tech, Clinical Nutritionist, Kathy Chauncey. 

There are 20 types of the plant, but only the Hoodia Gordonii is believed to contain the natural appetite suppressant. Nutritionist Kathy Chauncey says the active ingredient is found in the root not the stem, which many products are made of.

"If you want to look at the supply in the end there is not enough of the Hoodia plant on the earth to supply what Americans would need, "says Chauncey.

Or what American's want, making it easier for you to get scammed. Healthy Essentials Store Manager Anna Paden says, "Everybody gets on the band wagon when something becomes popular and you don't know what you're getting a lot of times."

And there's a number of Hoodia products for to pick from.

Paden says she sells three forms of Hoodia. The Bija tea which has some other herbs, an oral spray and a capsule, which also contains fiber.

Yet with the variety of choice brings an array of prices. NewsChannel 11 found some products selling for more than $100 on-line. But the high cost doesn't guarantee it will work, nor if it's safe.

As Pharmacist John Floyd says, it's too early to tell. While Paden says, "You're gonna have to make a life style changes, because when you quit taking the magic pill, the magic stops."

Our experts say if you don't change your diet and increase exercise, any weight loss supplement most likely won't have long term effects, including Hoodia. But if you do want to check it out, experts say read the label and look for 100% pure certified Hoodia.

NewsChannel 11 Investigates
NewsChannel 11 is digging deeper than just the news of the day, bringing you stories that no one else will do.  We have discovered some things in Lubbock you should know about.  See what Cecelia Jones has uncovered.

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