Hoodia gordonii is sometimes used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss. However, this herbal medicine hasn't been proven safe or effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It may also cause significant side effects in some people.
In a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in October 2011, women taking hoodia supplements for 15 days experienced more side effects than those taking a placebo. These side effects included vomiting, nausea, skin sensations and increases in blood pressure, heart rate and pulse.
Potential Medication Interactions
There is a chance that hoodia gordonii may interact with certain medications because it limits an enzyme necessary for processing these medications in the body. This could potentially increase the risk for harmful side effects. These medications include certain HIV medications, statins, antibiotics and immunosuppressive medications.
Some people should avoid taking hoodia gordonii, according to Drugs.com. These include people with an eating disorder, a blood clotting disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. Evidence is lacking on the safety of hoodia for children and pregnant or nursing women, so it is best for these people to avoid taking hoodia supplements as well.
When choosing a supplement, consult with your doctor to determine whether this would be safe for you. Also, consider whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential for side effects. In the case of hoodia, although studies using animals showed potential appetite suppression benefits, studies using people haven't found the same results. For example, a study published in "Phytochemistry" in October 2007 found that rats given hoodia had a small decrease in appetite and body weight, but the study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found no weight loss or appetite suppression benefits in women.