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Be Wary of Herb Being Promoted for Weight Loss

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Q. Do you have any information about Garcinia cambogia? It is being touted as the next big thing for weight loss. Is there any research to back this up? Any concerns?

A. The data to support the effectiveness of this Indonesian fruit rind for weight loss are inconclusive. Any benefit appears to be modest.

According to a new report from ConsumerLab.com, several of the Garcinia cambogia products on the market do not contain the labeled amount of active ingredient. Side effects may include digestive upset and headache. Some animal research suggests liver inflammation is possible (World Journal of Gastroenterology, Aug. 7, 2013).

Even prescription medications for weight loss require people to follow a diet that will result in lost pounds. To learn more about such a diet, you may wish to listen to one of our radio shows. Dr. Michelle Harvie described the 2-Day Diet recently, and last year we spoke with Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller and Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian about weight loss regimens, with a focus on glycemic index and glycemic load. 

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I was taking a product whose name I won't mention for extra energy. There were several versions available, one which promoted possible weight loss. Since the price was the same, I tried it. I started having problems with what I thought was pills getting stuck in my throat, which was unusual because I've always been able to take a lot of pills all at once. It got so bad that I thought I was choking, and Mom did the Heimlich maneuver on me, but it didn't help. I ended up going to emergency because I thought I was choking. I ended up leaving and coming back home. I didn't connect it to the product I was taking at first, but then I decided to research the extra item in the product for weight loss. It was Garcinia Cambogia, not even a large amount.

Nowhere on the internet could I find anything bad about it except for one lonely website who mentioned that there had been a couple of bad reactions to it and one person had died. It seems it can sometimes constrict the throat, the esophagus specifically and cut off breathing. That's why I felt like I was choking but the Heimlich Maneuver didn't work. Granted it's probably a very rare reaction, but I am not dying to lose weight. I'm actually pretty good the way I am. But I read about all the people taking these mega doses of it, and it makes me shiver. I've learned my lesson.

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