Africhef for great South African Recipes and South African Cooking


How did Hoodia gordonii gain the reputation of being a plant that is effective for weight loss?

A cactus like succulent that works as an appetite suppressant? Picture this if you will…

Many years ago, (perhaps a few thousand,) a group of people were returning home through the Kalahari Desert.

There had been a drought that year - food and water were in short supply.

The group had been on a hunting expedition and were hoping to return home with sufficient food to feed their families.They were hungry and thirsty, but they didn't consider stopping to eat the antelope. The food was for their families. Although inadequate, it would sustain the families for a short time.

Unfortunately they had been unsuccessful since large game had moved to areas where food was more plentiful. They had only been able to hunt down a small antelope that was insufficient to feed their families.

Their hunger, and especially their thirst, became almost unbearable. Then they came across a cactus-like plant, a succulent, which they knew would contain enough liquid to keep them going

They had never eaten this plant before. Its flowers smelt of rotten meat and attracted flies The group found this distasteful. Under the circumstances however, they had no choice.

They cut pieces from this succulent which later became known as Hoodia gordonii, and ate them. After eating a little of the plant they suddenly found they were no longer hungry or thirsty In fact, they felt slightly euphoric

The news that this plant, Hoodia gordonii, could counteract hunger spread throughout the rest of the peoples who inhabited the desert area. It was utilised whenever the people didn't have normal food to satisfy their hunger.

In 1937 a Dutch anthropologist studying the Khoisan noted that they sometimes used Hoodia gordonii to alleviate hunger and thirst.

In 1963 the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) the South African National laboratory began studying Hoodia gordonii. They decided that it had the potential to suppress appetite.

They entered into a licensing agreement with a British company called Phytopharm to process Hoodia gordonii and to isolate the active ingredient. They discovered that the active ingredient was a molecule which they called p57. Hoodia gordonii became extremely popular as a weight loss supplement, even though there had been no effective clinical trials to prove that it worked.

The popularity of Hoodia gordonii as an effective weight loss product exploded after a journalist from 60 minutes travelled to South Africa to investigate the Hoodia gordonii story. What did she have to say? Well here's part of the transcript
    “So how did it work? Stahl says she had no after effects - no funny taste in her mouth, no queasy stomach, and no racing heart. She also wasn't hungry all day, even when she would normally have a pang around mealtime. And, she also had no desire to eat or drink the entire day.

    'I'd have to say it did work,' says Stahl.”
This was aired in November 2005.

Hoodia gordonii became the subject of numerous websites - most touting their favourite brand of this food supplement.

If you had an email address you were inundated with spam regarding Hoodia gordonii. Unfortunately, there were numerous scams relating to the manufacture and sale of Hoodia gordonii, the so-called wonder weight loss pill.

After Stahl's report sales of Hoodia gordonii took off like a rocket.

According to many reports demand far exceeded supply.

This not only led to increases in the price of the product but also to some manufacturers selling impure product containing little or no Hoodia gordonii

THANKS!... Africhef

All content and design copyright ©2003/11 and