Are you ready for a natural appetite suppressant that really works—and without any harmful stimulants?

You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz recently about the appetite suppressant hoodia, a natural substance said to literally take your appetite away. When Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes traveled to Africa to try hoodia, she reported that she lost the desire to eat or drink the entire day after ingesting a small amount of it. “I’d have to say it did work,” she says. “Imagine this: an organic pill that kills the appetite and attacks obesity,” writes BBC Two correspondent Tom Mangold in a May 30, 2003 report on hoodia. “It has no known side effects, and contains a molecule that fools your brain into believing you are full.”

With these and other reports from major news outlets, no wonder hoodia is creating a buzz among dieters.

But what is hoodia? How does it work? Is it really safe? Is there any science behind it? And, how can you ensure you are purchasing a quality, effective hoodia supplement? The following information will give you all the facts you need to know about this groundbreaking new supplement…

Hoodia (or properly known as Hoodia gordonii) is a newly available, powerful appetite suppressant sourced from a specific prickly succulent (although it looks like and is often referred to as a cactus) in Africa’s Kalahari Desert. This unique plant contains a special substance, which signals the brain telling it your body is satisfied and does not need more food. The substance works by simply stopping cravings and one’s desire for food. Since hunger and a desire to eat food are one of the main reasons why people fail at dieting, using hoodia shows much promise in successfully losing those extra pounds and inches.

To easily understand how hoodia works, one simply needs to know how a tribe in southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert has been using it for centuries. The year was 1937. A Dutch anthropologist studying the San Bushmen of South Africa observed that, on their hunting trips, they consumed the stem portions of a prickly desert plant known as hoodia in order to suppress their appetites, ward off thirst, and promote endurance.

This observation, however, went largely unrecognized until 1963, at which time researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa’s national laboratory, began studying the plant for its commercial and medicinal value, including its alleged weight-loss potential.

According to one report, “Initial results were promising— lab animals lost weight after taking hoodia.” However, perhaps even more exciting to the scientists was their eventual discovery of a previously unknown molecule, which has since been christened “P57.” P57 has an effect on nerve cells in the brain that is quite similar to glucose—in effect fooling the body into thinking it is full, even when it is not, thus curbing the appetite, according to an August 7, 2003 ABC News report.

An expert familiar with the pharmacology of the P57 molecule says that the reason hoodia works so extremely well is that in the mid-brain area, the hypothalamus, are nerve cells that respond to simple sugar. When we eat, this causes our blood sugar to spike and turn on these cells. So we feel full. In many cases with morbidly obese people, their nerve cells do not respond to simple sugars as sensitively or effectively as in most normal weight people. Hence, people eat and overeat. They cannot be satiated as easily.

Hoodia’s P57 molecule is said to be 10,000 times more active than simple sugars like glucose. Plus, it is able to travel to the mid-brain area and tends to make sugar-sensitive nerve cells fire up. Even if you haven’t eaten, the molecule turns on these nerve cells. In one of the early experimental studies, rats, known for eating almost anything, simply gave up eating. Even when the rats were tempted with some of their favorite foods (e.g., salami and chocolate), they were not interested.

A clinical trial in the United Kingdom suggests P57 could reduce appetite by up to 2,000 calories a day, making it a potential runaway success in the multimillion-dollar dieting industry, says the BBC report. While the jury is still out and much more study is required, the preliminary data is encouraging, particularly in that it appears quite safe with both traditional use and when clinically observed.

Hoodia appears to be very different (and safe) from diet stimulants like ephedra and Fen-Phen, which are now banned or restricted because of potentially dangerous side effects. Hoodia doesn’t stimulate at all, like ephedra, and does not appear to have any of the heart-related toxic effects, like the Fen-Phen combination. Scientists say this molecule fools the brain by making you think you’re full. When the first human clinical trials were conducted, a morbidly obese group of people from Leicester, England were chosen and placed in a “phase 1 unit,” a place as close to prison as it gets, says the BBC report. All the volunteers could do was read papers and watch television—and eat. Half the group was given hoodia, half placebo. At the end of 15 days, the group given hoodia had reduced their food intake by 1,000 calories a day. Given the average daily diet is around 2,200 calories, this study was considered a huge success.

Although hoodia itself is certainly not new, only recently has its active ingredient been patented by the CSIR. Subsequently, the British biotechnology company, Phytopharm, acquired the rights to develop and commercialize it as an anti-obesity drug for use in the West (and at the same time a royalty agreement that will financially enumerate the San Bushmen for use of their traditional knowledge has been established).

Since that time, even the big drug companies like Pfizer and Unilever have been working with Phytopharm to develop a synthetic drug based on the P57 molecule (although it now seems Unilever has a partnership with hytopharm).

Consumers wishing to experience the weight-loss and appetite-suppressant effects of hoodia don’t need to wait until a drug is developed and patented—or pay any exorbitant prices. Hoodia gordonii, the source of this molecule, is now available to consumers as a dietary supplement. It is important to note that hoodia is NOT a drug. Hoodia (the "gordonii" form which will be further explained ahead) contains the appetite-suppressing molecule the drug companies are trying to capitalize on. The hoodia material in its pure, dried and ground form is very effective. Fortunately for consumers, natural products like hoodia cannot be patented, nor can their names be trademarked.

When selecting a hoodia supplement, exercise caution, as not all of them may be the specific plant noted for its appetite-suppressing benefits. First and foremost, purchase only Hoodia gordonii, not just hoodia. There are some 20 types of hoodia, but only the Hoodia gordonii version contains the appetite-suppressing P57 molecule.

Also, you’ll want an extract with a ratio of 20:1. This ensures you are getting the active part of the plant the San Bushmen used, and not just a ground-up portion of the outer parts of the plant, which were discarded.

While most nutritional supplements come in pill or capsule form, hoodia may best be utilized by the body in a product that delivers it in an oral form (i.e., spray, liquid). Here’s why—the San Bushmen of Africa originally consumed hoodia orally. They peeled off the skin, and chewed on the inner part of the plant. What this tells us is that there was an oral absorption, predigestion, and/or chemical signaling that immediately took place in the mouth cavity first.

Then, as the plant substance or juice is swallowed, there is a follow-up digestive process that accompanies it. The problem with most hoodia supplements available is that they come in the form of pills or capsules, which completely bypasses the oral phase of hoodia consumption. Using hoodia in an oral spray, preferably, or a liquid form, allows it to simulate exactly how the San Bushmen in Africa achieved maximum benefit.

As with other nutritional supplements, there are high and low qualities, as well as effective and ineffective hoodia products available. Be careful when shopping for a hoodia-based nutritional supplement. With the growing demand for this appetite suppressant there isn’t enough of the quality raw ingredients to go around. Hoodia gordonii, which is native to the semi-deserts of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola, is neither prolific nor fast-growing. In fact, it is a protected species. Over 20 different types of Hoodia have been identified, and it is believed that only the Hoodia gordonii grown in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa contains the P57 molecule.
We’ve tried to learn as much as possible about hoodia and what you should look for. Here are our recommendations for ensuring you purchase a quality hoodia supplement:

1. Get your hoodia from a quality company.
We think this is really important. Companies that have been around a long time and have excellent connections for sourcing raw materials are likely to have authentic hoodia. Because some see it as the next hot ticket, a number of companies have been formed just to sell hoodia, and some aren’t committed to quality.

2. Beware of products claiming to be 100 percent pure hoodia made from the whole hoodia plant.
In this process, the whole hoodia plant is ground into a powder. In fact, the San Bushmen discard the hoodia skin and consume primarily the stem and inner portion. Such products might be least expensive but don’t offer the best results.

3. Look for hoodia extract.
In the case of hoodia, extracts are thought to be more potent than products containing whole powdered plant. A quality hoodia product right now appears to be a 20:1 or 10:1 extract and could well be selectively extracted to eliminate the outer skin and other fibrous portions thought not to contain appreciable amounts of the P57 molecule. Essentially, 20:1 means 20 grams of the whole plant is required to make one gram of the extract

4. Prefer oral sprays or teas.
Hoodia is available to consumers in a variety of formats, including capsules, teas and, now, an oral spray. All methods of delivery apparently will work, with the oral delivery forms believed to be more effective. When the San Bushmen consumes hoodia, there is some passage into the digestive tract, but first an oral interaction. Pills and capsules do not simulate how the San Bushman originally used the product. Although capsules, teas and sprays all work, generally speaking, oral sprays and teas (savored) are the preferred method of delivering nutrients.

Since teas are not always convenient, a spray bottle with hoodia might be just the thing to carry with you when you are dieting.

Author's Bio: 

Jim Caras’s company, Health Direct, has supplied the world with premium health supplements for over 10 years. One of their best sellers is an all-natural appetite suppressant spray containing Hoodia gordonii and green tea.