Garcinia cambogia (GC) is a tree native to Southeast Asia and Africa. It produces a small, pumpkin-like fruit that is popular in the cuisines of Thailand and India. The fruit of GC is believed to offer some health benefits and is used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine.

Extracts of GC fruit contain hydroxycitric acid (often abbreviated as HCA on labels), a substance thought to contribute to weight loss by suppressing appetite and inhibiting fat production. Although some scientific studies in animals and humans have shown positive short-term effects of GC and/or HCA on weight loss, the majority of human studies have found no effect. There is currently insufficient reliable evidence to support the claims that GC extract is effective for weight loss in humans.

On its own, GC is generally well tolerated and has been used in studies for up to 12 weeks without serious adverse effects. However, recently there have been several cases of elevated liver enzymes, one report of acute hepatitis, and one case of acute liver failure associated with a specific dietary supplement product containing GC. More research is needed to confirm the association. However, caution should be used, particularly with multi-ingredient products.

Updated 01 February 2017

References

Chuah, L. O., Yeap, S. K., Ho, W. Y., Beh, B. K., & Alitheen, N. B. (2012). In vitro and in vivo toxicity of Garcinia or hydroxycitric acid: A review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1–12. doi:10.1155/2012/197920

Ibrahim, M. Y., Hashim, N. M., Mariod, A. A., Mohan, S., Abdulla, M. A., Abdelwahab, S. I., & Arbab, I. A. (2016). α-Mangostin from Garcinia mangostana Linn: An updated review of its pharmacological properties. Arabian Journal of Chemistry, 9(3), 317–329. doi:10.1016/j.arabjc.2014.02.011

Lopez, A. M., Kornegay, J., & Hendrickson, R. G. (2014). Serotonin toxicity associated with Garcinia cambogia over-the-counter supplement. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 10(4), 399–401. doi:10.1007/s13181-014-0390-7