Pharmacological review of Caralluma R.Br. with special reference to appetite suppression and anti-obesity

J Med Food. 2012 Feb;15(2):108-19. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1555. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Caralluma fimbriata extract has received Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for use as a nutraceutical to combat the most serious public health concern (i.e., obesity). More than 260 species grouped under the genus Caralluma (Family Apocynaceae) are distributed in tropical Asia and Mediterranean regions of the globe. Ethnobotanically, some species have been used as traditional and modern dietary ingredients to suppress appetite. Many species of Caralluma are commonly used as traditional medicine for the treatment of rheumatism, diabetes, leprosy, paralysis, and inflammation and have antimalarial, antitrypanosomal, anti-ulcer, antioxidant, antinociceptive, and antiproliferative activities. The genus is known for compounds like pregnane glycosides, flavonoid glycoside, flavones, magastigmane glycosides, pregnane steroids, steroidal glycosides, saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, aromatic and nonaromatic volatile compounds, and β-sitosterol. An extract of C. fimbriata (Slimaluna(®), Gencor Nutrients, Anaheim, CA, USA) is used as an anti-obesity agent and appetite suppressor. It is also seen that the pregnane glycosides isolated and identified from African Hoodia are reported as anti-obesity and appetite-suppressant compounds. On reviewing the studies undertaken on the chemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutic potential of Caralluma, it is concluded that the genus is also composed of pregnane glycosides as one of the major constituents. Availability of pregnane glycosides in Caralluma is an indication of the appetite-suppressant property of this genus. This coupled with the GRAS status of the extract of C. fimbriata has opened the possibility of developing an anti-obesity/appetite-suppressant product from other species of Caralluma. The main objective of this article is to review the studies undertaken on the plant in light of further research for anti-obesity drugs and nutraceuticals from species of Caralluma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apocynaceae / chemistry*
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Appetite Depressants / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Plant Extracts