I’m sure you’ve either seen or heard of Garcinia Cambogia pills and extracts, which have been so widely endorsed by physician-turned-television-personality Dr. Oz and numerous other celebrities and self-proclaimed “experts”. In fact, among the countless supplements hailed as “miracle” weight loss solutions, Garcinia Cambogia is indeed at the top of the list.

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However, in spite of widespread popularity, the overall effectiveness and long-term safety of Garcinia Cambogia supplements remains to be seen.

What Exactly Is Garcinia Cambogia Anyway?

Garcinia Cambogia is a tropical species of the all-natural botanical fruit Garcinia. Grown in India, Southeast Asia and some regions of Africa, it’s a well-known preservative and flavor enhancer with a sour taste similar to that of lemon and other bitter citrus fruits.

The rinds and extracts of Garcinia are traditional ingredients in Asian and Indian cuisine. They are especially rich in a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which gives Garcinia its tart taste.

Does Garcinia Cambogia Really Work for Weight Loss?

While Garcinia Cambogia supplements are widely promoted as weight loss aids, the evidence supporting their overall effectiveness just isn’t there. In truth, most of the claimed weight loss effects of Garcinia Cambogia are actually related to the HCA contained in the Garcinia fruit.

In isolation, HCA has been shown to exhibit beneficial effects on fat metabolism, digestion, and the hormonal regulation of appetite, which is why it’s a common ingredient in other widely marketed weight loss supplements.

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Due to the general presence of HCA, Garcinia Cambogia extracts are commonly used as laxative agents in traditional medicine and are known to alleviate constipation by stimulating bowel movements. While the excretion of accumulated fecal matter could lead to small reductions in body weight over time, laxatives in general are meant for short-term use (less than one week) so there’s not much potential for long-term results.

Garcinia Cambogia extracts have also been claimed to help lower cholesterol. However, as with weight loss, this potential health effect is more owing to HCA than the fruit itself. But still this is another effect that has neither been proven nor clearly established.

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Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe to Use?

Despite the suggested effects of Garcinia Cambogia-dervied HCA, only a small amount of research supports its value for weight loss. Furthermore, the limited evidence that does exist is based on small scale, short-term studies most of which were conducted in animals.

Interestingly enough, HCA itself was once an active ingredient in Hydroxycut brand dietary supplements until numerous cases of liver damage (hepatotoxicity), seizures and other health problems were reported, particularly with long-term usage.

This is especially important to consider if you’re on the fence about whether or not to try Garcinia Cambogia. There is generally poor regulation of dietary supplements in the United States so why even risk it?

Most if not all Garcinia Cambogia supplements naturally contain HCA and, disturbingly, no therapeutic dosage has ever been clearly established for any of them. In this light, regularly using these supplements may indeed put you at increased risk.

The Net-Net

There’s truly a lack of reliable evidence to support the proposed weight loss benefits of Garcinia Cambogia supplements. Adding insult to injury, the long-term health effects of continued use are totally unknown. At the end of the day, you really have to ask yourself if the overhyped potential is really worth the risk.

Successful weight loss requires close and continuous attention to good nutrition and calorie balance. As a health and wellness expert, I’m all about novel products and brands that make these processes easier for the average person, as opposed to those that come with unnecessary costs, empty promises and meaningless results.

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That said, instead of investing in Garcinia Cambogia or even searching for the next “miracle” supplement, I encourage you to fully embrace a balanced approach to weight loss. Such an approach is one that includes a sensible diet based on sound nutrition, regular physical activity, and maintenance strategies that reflect realistic expectations that are within your comfort zone so you can implement them for a lifetime.

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