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At least one supplement containing Garcinia has been withdrawn because of reported side effects including hepatotoxicity and gastrointestinal problems.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