St. Patty's Day Recipes
Eat Your Vegetables
Low Carb Sacher Torte
The Perfect Pedicure
St. Patty's Day Chuckles
Not Losing Weight?
Fat is Not the Enemy
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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
Copyright © March 2006 Cerise Cauthron Low Carb Luxury