The most appropriate answer to the question whether Hoodia is safe, to be honest, cannot be answered one way or the other. The simple reason for this is that scientific research has not been undertaken on a wide enough scale yet to establish conclusively its long term or short-term effects.
Hoodia gordonii is a cactus-like succulent plant that grows only in the regions in and around the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. It contains an active appetite-suppressing molecule by the name P 57. Phytopharm, which holds the exclusive rights on hoodia gordonii, its production and the sale of its products containing P 57, in collaboration with Unilever, which has a tie-up with Phytopharm, has been conducting clinical studies on the appetite suppressant properties of it. But it has not yet come out with any authentic results about its side effects. To know the long-term or the short-term side effects of the plant in general or its active molecule P 57 in particular, scientists need to carry out extensive research over long periods of time on a wide enough scale covering large numbers of people. This has not been possible so far, given the short history of the growing popularity of hoodia gordonii.
Certain succulent plants like aloe vera are considered unsafe for pregnant women. Aloe vera is used in cases of amenorrhea, on order to increase menstrual flow. This is also a succulent plant, but no one knows for certain whether it is, like aloe vera and some other similar succulents, unsafe for pregnant women. It may be unsafe for diabetics as well, although clinical studies on this aspect have not been performed.
There is no doubt that hoodia gordonii is an appetite suppressant. But one should bear in mind that most appetite supplements contain some stimulant or the other. It is a fact that any stimulant increases the heart rate or blood pressure. If you ask whether hoodia too increases the heart rate or blood pressure, scientists will certainly say that the research done so far does not indicate any such side effect, however, it lacks the intensive research that many other drugs have had. On the other hand, Hoodia is all natural and must be considered safer than other appetite supplements that contain stimulants.
The market is full of high-priced but low- effect products. Many of the so-called hoodia gordonii supplements may contain more of ephedrine or ephedra or ma huang, which are the usual ingredients in popular dietary supplements, and less of the authentic, especially the part that has P 57. The authenticity of these products claiming to be the real hoodia gordonii but without any supporting certification is naturally questionable. Therefore, you cannot be sure of such products being safe.
You can perhaps consider genuine and pure hoodia gordonii as safe. It is not a stimulant and is not known to produce any side effects, at least in the short term. Ensure, therefore, that you buy only that is CITES certified. It should also carry the Analytical Report as well as the license from the Western Cape Conservation Authority of South Africa. As long as there are no documented data proving that it is unsafe, you can assume it is safe to use pure and genuine hoodia gordonii.
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