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19.02.2011


Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study

Extracts from the Indian succulent plant Caralluma fimbriata [see below] reduce the feelings of hunger produced in the brain. From the experiments they did with male rats, researchers at Bharathidasan University conclude that the extracts increase sensitivity to leptin.

Caralluma fimbriata
Hunters in India have been using Caralluma fimbriata for many centuries. They use the plant when they have no food left to still their hunger and give them energy to keep on the move. During a hunting expedition hunters consume up to 100 g a day of the plant. Extracts of Caralluma fimbriata are now found in all kinds of slimming supplements.

Caralluma fimbriata resembles the South African Hoodia gordonii. South African tribes such as the San bushmen use this plant for the same purposes as the Indian tribes. Manufacturers have put hoodia extracts in slimming supplements, but in Europe they came up against Unilever and EU regulations.

Hoodiagenin

Hoodiagenin




Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study

Compound I

Unilever had patented the use of Hoodia in slimming products, and the EU regarded Hoodia as a potentially dangerous 'novel food' that could not be released onto the market before its health effects had been investigated. It isn't clear to what extent the European concern about consumer health was a consequence of Unilever's investments.

By the way, Unilever's research was not successful. According to trade reports this was because the doses at which people started to eat less caused nausea in a group of users. This side effect was serious enough for the multinational to call off the Hoodia project.

The active substances in Hoodia gordonii include glycated analogues of the pregnane compound shown here. Its name is hoodiagenin. Many of its analogues have sugar chains. The researchers suspect that it is these compounds that suppress appetite in the brain and at the same time boost the synthesis of hormones that raise the metabolic rate.

The Hoodia project focused on an analogue of hoodiagenin, which the researchers named p57. [Planta Med. 2011 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print].] [Chemical structure]

Caralluma fimbriata contains pregnanes that resembles the ones found in Hoodia gordonii. The pared-down version of these molecules is shown above [Compound I]. The group attached to C12 can be detached and replaced by other groups, but the plant can also attach a sugar molecule chain instead of the left hydroxyl group. Then you end up with a compound like the one shown below.


Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study


Ok. That's enough biochemistry drivel; now back to the Indian animal study. A control group was given ordinary feed for 90 days, and an experimental group was given feed containing extra fat, cookies and peanuts [Cafetaria]. The experimental animals put on weight fast because they ate more.

Some of the rats on the Cafetaria diet were given 25, 50 or 100 mg caralluma extract per kg bodyweight. [CFE] The figure below shows that their food intake stabilised at the intake level of the control group. The rats that consumed extracts achieved a normal bodyweight and a normal fat percentage.


Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study


Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study


Caralluma fimbriata has hoodia-like appetite-suppressant effect: animal study


The leptin levels of the rats in the Cafetaria group rose by a factor 8. The leptin levels of the CFE groups remained constant. The researchers assume that this happened because the caralluma extracts restore leptin sensitivity.

"These data indicate that CFE has the potential to curb obesity", the researchers conclude.

Source:
J Nutr Metab. 2010;2010:285301.

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