Garcinia cambogia Health Benefits: for weight loss?

Garcinia fruit is usually yellow or greenish and looks like a small pumpkin

Garcinia fruit is usually yellow or greenish and looks like a small pumpkin

Although still called Garcinia cambogia (or just Garcinia) in the popular press, this old botanical name has been revised to Garcinia gummi-gutta, though you might still find it labelled as Garcinia cambogia, Cambogia gummi-gutta or Mangostana cambogia. So far as common names go, it is also known as brindleberry, gambooge fruit and Malabar tamarind.


Garcinia is a tropical tree which reaches a height of 12m and is native to the Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats (West coast) of India. The fruit is yellow/green sometimes with a reddish tinge, about the size of an orange and pumpkin shaped.

Edible uses

In India and Southeast Asia, the rind and extracts of Garcinia are used in cooking, particularly in southern Thai kaeng som (fish curry). It is also used for curing fish in Sri Lanka and South India.

Medicinal uses

Garcinia rind was formerly used to treat gastric ulcers, diarrhea and dysentery. It was promoted by Dr Oz, a US celebrity doctor, as a weight loss supplement some years ago. It’s also used in Ayurveda as a digestive aid.

A compound found in the rind called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is believed to boost fat burning during exercise and reduce appetite by raising serotonin levels and blocking ATP citrate lyase, an enzyme involved in the production of fat. It is also believed to increase endurance in female athletes, but with no similar effect on men. It’s also used to lower cholesterol, manage stress and level out mood swings.

Research has found that the type of HCA used affects the result. Calcium hydroxycitrate on its own is mainly ineffective, but a mixture of calcium and potassium or magnesium HCA works well. You should always check that the supplement you are using contains either potassium or magnesium, and preferably a low lactone content.

Take about 1.5g three times a day, 30-60 minutes before a meal. If taken with food, the HCA can bind to some of the components in the food and become inactive.

Contra-indications and warnings

At least one supplement containing Garcinia has been withdrawn because of reported side effects including hepatotoxicity and gastrointestinal problems.

High doses may lead to nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and headaches. Discontinue use if affected.

Consult your doctor before taking Garcinia if you are currently taking prescribed medication, particularly SSRIs, anti-depressants, dextromethorphan, pethidine, pentazocine or tramodol.

Do not use during pregnancy/breastfeeding, if you have existing liver or kidney damage, diabetes, dementia or are taking blood thinners such as warfarin.

Where to get it

I offer various Garcinia products in my online store.


Garcinia is not used in aromatherapy.

Final Notes

Unless you live in its native area or a similar climate, it’s unlikely you will want to grow Garcinia, but if you do decide to, remember that to ensure that any remedy to extract from it is safe, it is essential to follow organic growing techniques. To find out more about organic gardening visit the Gardenzone.

Weight Loss: Low Fat or Low Carb?

The Guardian published this article

I don’t usually do this, but an article in the Guardian which I’ve just read is so important that I need to bring it to your attention.

The article in question is The sugar conspiracy by Ian Leslie. It describes how the nutritional science establishment suppressed evidence over many years to promote the idea that cholesterol and high fat content in the diet was the major cause of obesity.

The result of this was that official dietary advice since the 1970s has advocated a low fat, high carbohydrate diet as being good for health. Since that time, obesity levels have rocketed.

There has been a great deal of scientific research recently which backs up the work done by the eminent nutritionist of the ’70s, John Yudkin, who was a lone voice disputing the idea that fat in the diet was the cause of obesity, and was comprehensively and thoroughly destroyed as a result.

Even today, nutritionists, far from pursuing an open spirit of enquiry as might be expected of a supposedly science-based profession, will refuse even to share a platform with anybody who disputes the “high fat leads to obesity” orthodoxy which they’ve been inflicting on us for so many years.

Read the article. It’s long, but the twists and turns are interesting enough that it kept me enthralled right to the end.

And when you’ve finished reading it, if you’ve been trying and failing to lose weight on a low fat diet, consider swapping to a high fat, low carb diet instead, which at least has the advantage of some scientific evidence behind it, rather than the propaganda of Big Food and vested interests in the scientific community.

Could your weight problem be caused by gluten intolerance?

Previously published on 100% Gluten Free

photo by ProjectManhattan

Yummy cakes. Best not look if you’re gluten intolerant [photo by ProjectManhattan]

The Establishment always denies anything that doesn’t match the current dogma. Look what it did to Galileo for saying the Earth went round the Sun. That’s probably why there’s so much misinformation out there about obesity and its connection to gluten intolerance.

There are many people that say, if you’re not allergic to something (that is, that your immune system doesn’t react to it), that means you can eat it whenever you like.

Tell that to migraine-sufferers who would love a chocolate bar, but would rather not get the penalty of giving in to that temptation.

Food intolerance is real.Don’t pay attention to people┬áthat say doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s probably best if we leave this attitude in the past where it belongs while we focus on reality.┬áThe only problem with the attitude that “gluten intolerance=celiac” is that misunderstanding of certain known facts connected with celiac disease leads to a belief that if you are obese, you cannot be suffering from gluten intolerance (which, remember, they believe to be the same as celiac disease).

The reason they think this is that celiac disease leads to damage to hairs in the intestine which are used by the body to absorb certain nutrients, so celiac sufferers end up deficient in nutrition, and many lose weight or have difficulty gaining weight. But not everybody’s body reacts the same way to things (which is why some people can use certain pharmaceutical products that others can’t).

Instead of losing weight, some undiagnosed celiac patients experience cravings and hunger pangs, even just after eating. This is their body’s response to a lack of certain nutrients (which their body can’t absorb because of the damage I already mentioned). But they don’t know that, they just know they need to eat more to stop themselves feeling hungry. This is how gluten intolerance can lead to obesity.

If you are overweight, and have tried all the diets, had some success and then the weight just piled back on again, you may be gluten intolerant, or maybe even an undiagnosed celiac. Certainly, if you are concerned about this problem, and have found no solution, it is worth finding out for yourself. Don’t let the dogma of the medical profession hold you back. If it can’t be repaired with an expensive operation or drugs, they aren’t interested, anyway.

Other symptoms of gluten intolerance are: depression, aches and pains in bones and joints, diarrhea (or sometimes, constipation), and irritable bowel syndrome. Not everybody who is gluten intolerant will suffer from all the symptoms, though some will.

If you would like to learn more, please read my article “How can you find out if you are gluten intolerant?” (coming up).

How to lose weight faster


Exercise helps raise your metabolic rate

Low carbohydrate diets have become popular in recent years, originally promoted by Dr Atkins. However, studies have shown that these only work well for about 6 months. After this time, other weight loss methods start to produce equal or better results.

Do low carb diets work?

Dr Atkins followed the diet he promoted for most of his life, and when he died, he had serious health problems (he weighed 258 pounds – 18 stone 6lb – at his death and had a history of heart disease). Clearly, it didn’t work for him.

How to lose weight without risking your health

One of the major drawbacks of the low-carb diet system is the “eat as much fat as you like” philosophy that seems to come along with it. As you know, diets that are high in fat lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, obesity… And reducing carbohydrate intake does not stop these effects. Not something I want to risk, anyway.

The energy content of your food can be measured in several ways. The traditional way is with calories, and now we see the same information printed on packets in kilojoules. But regardless of the measuring system used, the fact remains that your weight goes up or down according to the difference between the amount of energy you consume (in your food) and the amount you use (in your day to day life, and with exercise).

Weight for weight, fat contains three times as much energy as protein or carbohydrate. This means that by reducing your fat intake, you automatically reduce the amount of energy you are taking in, so that you can start to lose weight.

Ten easy ways to reduce dietary fat

  • Eat as much fruit, salad and vegetables as you like
  • Do not put butter on your potatoes, vegetables or bread
  • Choose low fat cheese or cottage cheese instead of standard cheese
  • Do not eat fried food
  • Substitute fruit for snacks like crisps or biscuits
  • If you are still hungry after eating your main course, have a piece of fruit or some fresh fruit cut up with low fat yoghurt poured over
  • Remove skin from chicken
  • Cut down red meat and substitute chicken or turkey
  • Trim fat from meat you eat
  • Substitute low fat dressings or lemon juice for mayonnaise

How to burn up your food intake more quickly

You may know people who seem to be able to eat anything they like, and stay as thin as a beanpole. Others say that no matter if they just look at a cream cake, they put on weight. Why is this?

Not everybody burns food at the same rate, it all depends on your metabolic rate. The ones who stay stick-thin have a higher metabolic rate (they burn their food faster) than the ones who seem to get fat just by looking at fattening foods.

What not many people know is that you can CHANGE your metabolic rate. You can “turn up the furnace” so that you burn calories faster – and lose weight faster.

How do you do this? By taking regular exercise.

It was once thought that exercise could not help with weight loss, because your appetite would increase to use up the calories you burned while exercising. But studies have shown that exercise actually speeds up the rate at which you burn food. So regular exercise is like a magic button, helping you lose weight more quickly.

For this to work, the key is regularity. You need to do about 45 minutes of exercise every 2-3 days (the rise in metabolism starts to drop after about 72 hours). The exercise should be vigorous enough to raise your heart rate – say, a brisk walk (outside or on a treadmill). If you can, get yourself a portable heart rate monitor, so that you can see that you are walking fast enough (and not too fast – no need to risk a heart attack).

When you get back from your walk, resist the temptation to fill up with fatty foods (yes, I know the cream cake is tempting, but if you want to lose weight…).

So there you are. Ten quick weight loss tips, and a bonus. I have lost a couple of stones in this way, at the right speed (do it too fast, it tends to go straight back on again). Put these tips to the test for a month, and I know you will start to see results, as well. And yet another bonus: you will feel healthier, more energetic, and generally better all round.

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips


Reach your ideal weight

Here’s my top ten tips to make weight loss easy…
well easier anyway:

Whatever diet method you choose, there are some tips that apply across the board. (LO is my shorthand way of typing “low calorie, low fat or low carbohydrate, depending on the diet regime you are following”.)

  1. Set a date to start and clean out* all the fattening snacks, ready meals and high calorie products like mayonnaise, burgers and sausages beforehand.
    *Give or throw them away. DON’T eat them!
  2. Buy in LO substitutes for products you eat regularly, also a selection of low/no calorie dressings and dips, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, including all your favorites.
  3. Throw out the deep fat fryer (or consign it to the attic/cellar for the duration) and replace it with a lean-machine type grill.
  4. Join a slimming club or set an informal one up with a few friends. If you don’t want to meet other slimmers ‘in the flesh’, or you can’t stick to a regular meeting schedule, consider joining an online group instead. As well as helping you keep up to the mark, the chance to share successes, failures, recipes and tips on avoiding pitfalls can be very helpful in keeping you on track.
  5. Take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. If you have joined a slimming club or gym, ask if there are any other recommended supplements (but don’t be fooled into buying expensive proprietary brands ‘only available’ from them – if it’s a condition, find another group).
  6. Find one or two healthy ‘treats’ that you really enjoy, that will fit into your diet. Use them as ‘rewards’, instead of high calorie chocolates (or whatever your favourite sin happens to be). Examples: Chopped up fresh fruit with a LO fruit yoghurt poured over; crabsticks or prawnies with a spiced LO mayo dip; Peach and kiwi smoothie made with LO yoghurt or fruit juice; crudites and LO houmous dip; sugar free jelly with fruit; meringues broken up and mixed with fresh strawberries or other soft fruit; one or two items from the weight watchers shelf at the local supermarket.
  7. Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t just tighten muscles and make you hungry. It has been proved that exercise actually raises your metabolic levels for up to 48 hours. In other words, it makes you burn the food you eat more quickly! So do your best to find some energetic activity that you will enjoy, or more than one. There’s plenty of choose from. Some ideas: walking, dancing, digging, rowing, skiing (on a local ski-slope, you don’t have to go abroad); cycling, kayaking, aerobics, yoga, martial arts, climbing, swimming, tennis, golf.Sign up with your local group if you can find one. Make sure to schedule time for your chosen activitie/s at least 3 times a week. If you’re at a loss and you haven’t visited your local Health Centre for a few years, pay them a visit – you’ll be surprised at how many different things they have on offer, plus there are trained staff always available to give you advice or even design a personal training programme for you. Some gyms charge for this service, but in many local authority health centres it’s included in your normal membership fee.
  8. If you haven’t got any good ones, buy a good quality set of bathroom scales, Always use the same set of scales to check your weight, as different scales may not agree (If you’re using a local gym regularly, you can use their scales instead of buying your own). You will also need a pair of kitchen scales for weighing portions.
  9. Make packed lunches with LO spreads instead of butter, cottage instead of cream cheese etc. (try cottage cheese, prawn and black pepper sandwiches, yum).
  10. Find ways to reduce calories in everyday cooking.
    • Instead of frying mushrooms, cook them in a little chicken stock, then drain well.
    • If you MUST fry, use a spray on oil (or non-oil frying spray if you can get it). Turn eggs over, or put the lid on to the frying pan for a short time to cook the top instead of splashing them with oil. Or poach instead of frying.
    • Develop spices for curries etc, by frying in a DRY pan until they become fragrant, then add a little water to gently soften the onions before adding the other ingredients in the usual way.
    • If cooking with minced (ground) meat buy the low fat variety and cook it twice: once in plenty of boiling water for about 10 minutes; then drain off all the liquid (it will take the fat with it), add a little fresh water, adjust seasoning or add the other ingredients to continue with your recipe.

LO = “low calorie, low fat or low carbohydrate, depending on the diet regime you are following”