Is Garcinia Cambogia a Food or Herb?

By on January 9, 2016

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical species of garcinia native to Southeast Asia, coastal Karnataka, India, and west/central Africa. People call this “brindall berry” and “Malabar tamarind” as well. It is characterized by a fruit that looks like pumpkin, but orange to grapefruit in size. Its white flesh, with a sweet and sour flavour has a texture and taste similar to that of persimmon.

Garcinia cambogia has many food and medicinal uses. Perhaps the most common usage of garcinia cambogia is in the preparation of curries. When cooking sour curry or fish curry, garcinia cambogia is an essential ingredient. Additional culinary uses include meat and fish curing and as a spice.

In Kerala Indian cuisine where fish is an integral part of the meal, garcinia cambogia, called koampuli, serves many purposes. Fish is cured in kodampuli for at least 24 hours before cooking to maximize the taste. Nadan Meen Curry, the traditional fish curry, almost always uses kodampuli. Not only does it bring out the flavour of fish, but also adds sourness to curries. The fruit rind and extracts of garcinia cambogia are also a key part of many Southeast Asian culinary dishes. 

The Health Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia
Indian traditional medicine has used various species of garcinia plant for many conditions. Garcinia cambogia fruit has been used as a digestive aid. Many species including garcinia cambogia were used to relieve edema, menstruation, constipation and intestinal parasites. Vitamin C in garcinia cambogia helps various body organs such as heart, and fights inflammation. Xanthone is a phytonutrient, which protects our cells from oxidative damage and infections. Garcinol, a less commonly known component of garcinia cambogia helps body fight inflammation and infection.

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a key component of garcinia cambogia. This compound is the reason that many products with garcinia cambogia are on the shelf labeled weight-loss. First identified by Watson and Lowenstein in the late 1960s, it has a reputed ability to help overcome food cravings and inhibit conversion of carbohydrate to fat. HCA appears to block an enzyme ATP citrate lyase which our body uses to make fat. Hydroxycitric acid also appears to increase your level of serotonin. Low serotonin level compels you to eat reactively (emotionally). Increased level of serotonin signals your brain that you are full, helping you control hunger, carb craving, anxiety and depression.

Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe?
Many studies conducted on garcinia cambogia have not reported significant side effects. Chemically, HCA is very similar to natural citrate, which is known to be safe. Toxicity tests conducted on mice showed that mice suffered no ill effects with amounts of garcinia much higher than maximum human doses.

Some consumers have reported allergic reaction, nausea, stomach discomfort or pain, intestinal discomfort or pain, or headaches after taking products containing hydroxycitric acid. Children, pregnant and lactating women, those diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, liver diseases and people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia disease are among the groups of people who are not recommended to take garcinia cambogia extract. 

Courtesy of David Health International.

About Charleen Wyman

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