Dangerous dietary supplements: Garcinia cambogia-associated hepatic failure requiring transplantation

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 7;22(45):10071-10076. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i45.10071.


Commercial dietary supplements are marketed as a panacea for the morbidly obese seeking sustainable weight-loss. Unfortunately, many claims cited by supplements are unsupported and inadequately regulated. Most concerning, however, are the associated harmful side effects, often unrecognized by consumers. Garcinia cambogia extract and Garcinia cambogia containing products are some of the most popular dietary supplements currently marketed for weight loss. Here, we report the first known case of fulminant hepatic failure associated with this dietary supplement. One active ingredient in this supplement is hydroxycitric acid, an active ingredient also found in weight-loss supplements banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2009 for hepatotoxicity. Heightened awareness of the dangers of dietary supplements such as Garcinia cambogia is imperative to prevent hepatoxicity and potential fulminant hepatic failure in additional patients.

Keywords: Dietary supplements; Drug-induced liver injury; Fulminant hepatic failure; Hyroxycitric acid; Liver transplantation; Weight-loss supplements.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / adverse effects*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / surgery
  • Citrates / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Garcinia cambogia*
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / chemically induced*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Citrates
  • Plant Extracts
  • hydroxycitric acid