Acute liver injury following Garcinia cambogia weight-loss supplementation: case series and literature review

Intern Emerg Med. 2018 Sep;13(6):857-872. doi: 10.1007/s11739-018-1880-4. Epub 2018 May 25.


Herbal weight-loss supplements are sold as self-medication products, and are often used under the misconception that their natural origin guarantees their safety. Food supplements are not required to provide any benefit/risk profile evaluation before marketing; however, possible risks associated with use of herbal extracts in food supplements are becoming more and more documented in the literature. Some herbs are listed as the leading cause of herb-induced liver injury, with a severe or potentially lethal clinical course, and unpredictable herb-drug interactions. Garcinia cambogia (GC) extract and GC-containing products are some of the most popular dietary supplements currently marketed for weight loss. Here, we present four cases of acute liver failure in women taking GC extract for weight loss, and a literature review of clinical evidences about hepatic toxicity in patients taking dietary supplements containing GC extract.

Keywords: Adverse events; Dietary supplements; Garcinia cambogia; Herb-induced liver injury; Hydroxycitric acid; Liver transplantation; Weight-loss supplements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / complications
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / epidemiology
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Garcinia cambogia / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / epidemiology
  • Liver Failure, Acute / etiology*
  • Liver Function Tests / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*