GARCINIA

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Herbal Monograph

Herb:   GARCINIA    (Garcinia cambogia, G. indica)

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Identification & Harvesting:     Garcinia is a genus of over 200 spp. of evergreen trees or shrubs found in tropical Asia, Africa and Polynesia.  G. cambogia and indica grow in India and China and southeast Asia.  G. cambogia has been misnamed “Malabar tamarind”, as it should not be confused with tamarind, Tamarindus indica.    (61)

Active Constituents:

Actions:    Studies show that the principle in garcinia fruits, (-)-hydroxycitrate, or hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, reduced food intake and body weight in rats.  HCA is considered a powerful inhibitor of fat accumulation, modifying the conversion of carbohydrates to fat in mammals.  Other rat studies show garcinia to have appetite-suppressant activity.  However, the effect of HCA is different in lean rats and obese rats.  One study found that in obese rats, HCA reduced food intake and body weight, but not body fat percentage or the size of fat cells.  Further research is needed.  Joniris RD Note — [The implication here is that it reduces lean muscle mass as much as, or even more than, fat stores.  There is currently a large market for “fat-burning” capsules containing among other ingredients HCA, and the most highly praised brands are touted as being fat-metabolizing without a proportional reduction of muscle mass.  Either the companies producing them know something we don’t, or it’s a hoax.  Personal experience with these particular products is that they do indeed help you get leaner, but it would be difficult to say anecdotally whether muscle mass is protected by HCA.  Especially since the products contain other compounds known to work synergistically to metabolize fat, e.g., the well-known combination of ephedra, guarana and willow bark.]    (61)

Conditions & Uses:    Long use as a food in India, esp. on the west coast.  A substitute for limes or tamarinds in cooking.  An extract of dried garcinia is traditionally taken after lamb dishes with a high fat content to aid in digestion.  In Indian folk tradition, the dried fruit rind has been decocted for rheumatism and bowel complaints.    (61)

Combinations:

Precautions:     Garcinia has been used safely for centuries as a food, with no recorded problems with toxicity.  It alters lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.  Unlike ephedra or guarana, garcinia does not stimulate the central nervous system.  Until further research is conducted, clinically obese patients might discuss use of garcinia with their physician.    (61)

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Dosage:    Joniris RD Note — [Personal experience with products is that they recommend no more than 3000 mg daily of HCA;  the delivery form varies, as does the percentage of HCA contained therein.]

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References:

(61) 101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster, pgs. 92-93