Common Names: garcinia cambogia, garcinia, Malabar tamarind, brindle berry
Latin Names: Garcinia gummi-gutta
- Garcinia cambogia is native to India and Southeast Asia. The fruit pulp and rind have long been used in Asian countries as a condiment and food preservative.
- The rind contains a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been studied for its effect on appetite. Garcinia cambogia supplements with HCA are marketed for weight loss.
- Garcinia cambogia has also been promoted for relief of joint pain and digestive symptoms and to improve athletic performance.
How Much Do We Know?
- Several studies have investigated the effect of garcinia cambogia on weight loss in people. Less research has been done on other uses of garcinia cambogia.
- Several dozen cases of liver toxicity have been reported in people who were taking products labeled as containing garcinia cambogia.
What Have We Learned?
- A 2020 review of 11 short-term studies in people did not find significant effects of garcinia cambogia products on weight loss.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- Cases of liver damage associated with the use of garcinia cambogia products have been reported. This problem appears to be uncommon, but some cases were severe. Most of the reported cases involved products labeled as containing a combination of ingredients, but some involved products labeled as containing only garcinia cambogia.
- Other side effects associated with garcinia cambogia include headache and nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Little is known about whether it’s safe to use garcinia cambogia during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Keep in Mind
- Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
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- Crescioli G, Lombardi N, Bettiol A, et al. Acute liver injury following Garcinia cambogia weight-loss supplementation: case series and literature review. Internal and Emergency Medicine. 2018;13(6):857-872.
- Garcinia. Natural Medicines website. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on June 25, 2020. [Database subscription].
- Maunder A, Bessell E, Lauche R, et al. Effectiveness of herbal medicines for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism. 2020;22(6):891-903.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Garcinia Cambogia. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2019. Accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548087/ on September 21, 2020.
- Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Accessed at https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional on September 21, 2020.
- Semwal RB, Semwal DK, Vermaak I, et al. A comprehensive scientific overview of Garcinia cambogia. Fitoterapia. 2015;102:134-148.
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