Ethnopharmacological relevance: Hoodia gordonii (family Apocynaceae) has become known globally for its claimed effect of appetite suppression. Despite a relatively large body of evidence of the plant׳s chemical make-up, peer-reviewed studies to provide scientific information on physiological effects of Hoodia gordonii are relatively sparse. The role of the pregnane glycoside P57-commonly accepted to be responsible for appetite suppression-has been questioned recently. Furthermore, a variety of physiological side-effects associated with consumption of the plant in extracted form questions its suitability for consumption. Although adverse effects have been described before, the relative abundance of non-peer-reviewed data originating from patent documents and lay publication for advertising, which specifically only focus on beneficial outcomes, skews the view of the risk-benefit-balance. Here we provide a review of peer-reviewed studies on the plant׳s physiological effects. Novel data from an in vivo rodent study further elucidate the benefit-to-risk ratio associated with consumption.
Conclusions: we conclude that although Hoodia gordonii seems to have a desired effect on appetite and weight loss, this effect may at least in part be a secondary symptom of the serious adverse effects that are associated with consumption of the high doses required to achieve therapeutic clinical effect.
Keywords: Appetite; Gastric emptying; Sympathomimetic; Ventricular hypertrophy; Weight loss.
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