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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    March 2005    Page 3       > About LCL Magazine     > Cover Page      > Inside Cover    Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11  12  13  14     


Feature Articles
 Being a Caregiver
 Giving Bad Habits the Boot!
 Hoodia Love?
 St. Patty's Day Feast
 Great Easter Recipes
 The Value of Eggs
 Cooking Q and A
 Keto: Going, Going, Gone
 A Letter from Dreamfields
 Are You a Busyholic?
 Panel: Being Remembered
 The Perfect Pedicure
 Making Beautiful Easter Eggs
 Industry Interview



                 Hoodia Love? by Cerise Cauthron

You're hungry. You know you are. Right now, this very moment. The pantry and refrigerator are singing to you in the most tantalizing harmony. You try and resist, but your body has a will of its own and you move forward, zombie-like, beckoned by their siren song?.

Sound familiar? If you are a normal person, this situation is not only familiar, it is nearly ritualistic. Our appetite governs us, it seems, some days. And, for many of us, that is a major factor in our quest for weight loss. How can one lose weight when every 5 minutes brings another load of calories piled into the mouth? Even a lowcarb diet will fail if the body is too overloaded with calories. And hunger brings another problem — food choices. There comes a point with hunger when anything will do to fill the hole and a little is not enough. Too great a hunger leads to binging, usually on the wrong foods. For too many people, the incessant pangs of hunger prevent weight loss and/or weight maintenance.

For this reason, appetite suppressants have been a focus in the pharmaceutical industry. What can we sell to people to make the hunger go away? Stimulant-based combinations have been traditionally offered, but the results are not always successful or pretty. Reactions to these products have ranged from mild jitters to death. Some have been banned, others reformulated, but the overall effectiveness has been sporadic through the population. For lowcarbers, some of these, such as caffeine, actually work against weight loss efforts by promoting insulin resistance! A new player in the field; however, shows promise and has a history of traditional use that supports its effectiveness — Hoodia.

Hoodia supplements are popping up in every health-food store one enters. The supplements are in the news, highly advertised on the Internet and debated on weight-loss forums. Cast as a natural appetite suppressant with no harmful side effects, Hoodia seems like the Holy Grail to many who need appetite control to see successful weight loss. What is Hoodia and how does it work?

Derived from the African plant, Hoodia gordonii, a member of the milkweed family, Hoodia has been used traditionally by Bushmen in Africa during extended hunts. Custom holds that the hunters cannot eat their kill until they return to the village and the duration of a hunting event can be quite extended. With little other food or water available, the hunters cut pieces of the Hoodia plant and eat it for its nourishment and moisture. But, an added benefit is that they also experienced significantly diminished hunger and thirst after Hoodia consumption and actually felt more energetic! The plant was also given to children who "ate too much," to moderate their eating habits. The Western world noticed this back in the 1930's, but no real application of this knowledge was made until more recent years when the cry for weight-loss assistance grew raucous.

When enough people chant "We Want?" and are willing to wave many dollar bills in the air, pharmaceutical companies take notice and are quite anxious to oblige. Therefore, the industry questioned native peoples, most notably the indigenous San people of the Kalahari in South Africe and tested samples of several plants for their appetite-suppressing abilities. Hoodia gordonii was found to work quite successfully and the pharmaceutical companies set about isolating the compounds that promoted these effects. Ultimately, it was decided that synthesizing the materials would be too costly and the plant should be cultivated instead. Wild plants are rare and can easily be mistaken for other species that are actually threatened or endangered. Cultivation would provide mass quantities of plants, would reduce the danger to threatened species, but would provide enough of the plant material to satisfy the dollar-waving public. But, Hoodia proved difficult to grow and it took time to develop sufficiently hardy stocks to cultivate on a massive scale. When this was accomplished, though, the bandwagon was leapt upon and Hoodia hit the weight-loss scene with a massive thump.

The action of Hoodia is simple in theory. When we eat, nerve cells monitor the levels of glucose in the system and when a certain level is reached, they signal "All Done!" and you feel full or satisfied. Your appetite, the urge to eat more, diminishes. It turns out that these receptor cells just adore Hoodia and, when bound with compounds in the Hoodia plant, they send dutifully the "All Done!" signal and your appetite shuts down. Taken before meals, Hoodia serves to hasten your feeling of fullness, so you eat less to get that same level of satisfaction. Also, Hoodia can act to stop hunger pangs between meals. The Hoodia compounds simply mimic the effects in the body that would be felt if you knocked back a bag of Doritos in response to that rumbling tummy.

Miracle of miracles? The jury is still out, actually. Despite a rich history in the African cultures, Hoodia has not undergone extensive testing either in animals or in humans. The few studies conducted have shown promise, but the body of empirical scientific data is very sparse. A study on obese individuals did demonstrate a diminished level of hunger and decrease in daily caloric intake and studies with rats documented reductions in body weight and food consumption when provided with Hoodia supplementation. Anecdotal reports (folks chatting about this and that) do point towards the effectiveness of Hoodia in stomping on hunger like a boot on a bug and the effects can be quite rapid. Some individuals report diminished hunger as soon as they begin a regimen of Hoodia, others report that it takes a little time before Hoodia manifests its benefits (up to 2 weeks).

Another jewel in the Hoodia crown is the apparent lack of negative side effects. Hoodia is not a stimulant and, therefore, does not have the hazards of substances such as caffeine and ephedra. Also, there have been no side effects associated with Hoodia use and no reports that Hoodia aggravates existing health conditions. Hoodia is not known to cause dependency or to persist in the system for prolonged periods of time. Regardless, individuals with major health issues and pregnant women should not take Hoodia without consulting their doctor.

As with all supplements, shop wearing your lowcarb detective hat (oh, don't worry?no one will stare). First, not all supplements are created equal. There are many counterfits and low-quality products on the market. Buy from a reputable source and purchase a known, trusted brand. Second, carefully read the label for the ingredient list. Many supplements use rice flour, potato starch or other form of lowcarb no-no's as a filler. Also, some products may contain sugar for palatability. But, there are many brands that avoid these lowcarb pitfalls and a reading of the label will highlight these brands.

Will Hoodia work for you? No one can say for certain whether a supplement will be effective for specific individuals, but if hunger is a major stumbling block for your weight-loss goals, Hoodia might be worth trying. Discuss the idea with your doctor if you have health risks that could be compromised by a supplement and then, if given the green light, find a suitable brand and start your experimentation. Be aware that the effects may take awhile, so no reaction at the onset of your test does not necessarily indicate that the product isn't going to perform as advertised. But, it might not work at all, be aware of that also. With living systems, there are no guarantees.

If you have the desire, time and money to add another supplement to your daily routine, Hoodia might be worth consideration. As with any supplement, use it only if you truly think you have a need. There is no sense in loading the body with compounds, safe or otherwise, that are not necessary to its normal and proper function. Take what you need to keep yourself fit and help you achieve your health and wellness goals and leave the rest alone. However, feel free to indulge in all the Compassion Capsules, Tolerance Tablets and Joyful Gelcaps that you can manage each and every day and if you run across an Instant-Lottery-Winner powder, please let me know?


Copyright © March 2005  Cerise Cauthron Low Carb Luxury



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