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Can Garcinia Cambogia Extract Help With Weight Loss?

Can Garcinia Cambogia Extract Help With Weight Loss?

By Kire Stojkovski M.D
Editor Jonathan Hoarau Published 01 June 2023
Time to read 6 min

If you’ve been or are currently trying to lose weight, then chances are you’ve heard of a potential weight loss aid called garcinia cambogia. This exotic-sounding supplement actually comes from a tropical fruit known as Malabar tamarind.

People state that consuming Garcinia Cambogia will help block the body’s ability to produce fat while curbing the appetite, which could very well help you lose a few pounds.

Although this sounds promising, is it safe for anyone to take, and does it work as promised? This is what we’ll help you figure out today.

What Is Garcinia Cambogia Extract?

Garcinia cambogia extract comes from the Malabar tamarind, also known as garcinia gummi-gutta, a fruit that grows primarily in India and Southeast Asia [1]. The Garcinia cambogia fruit looks somewhat like a miniature pumpkin that’s either green, yellow, or red.
The rind of the fruit comprises a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and it’s what producers use to make medicine.
You may see the extract used to treat conditions such as obesity and joint pain. However, there’s little evidence to support these claims.
Still, the active chemical in garcinia cambogia also shows some potential for improving athletic performance. The trigger might be that athletes experience increased endurance levels while potentially blocking fat absorption [2].

Garcinia Extract was found effective in enhancing weight loss across different dosages

History of Garcinia Cambogia

Cambogia garcinia is a common ingredient in dishes throughout India and Southeast Asia. Despite its sour taste, making it nearly impossible to eat on its own, residents picklethe fruit and serve it as a condiment. Others may sun-dry and smoke it, making a tart seasoning called kodampuli, used in curries and other dishes [3].

We can also find the use of cambogia garcinia in traditional medicine, where people used it as a remedy for various ailments. People applied it to relieve joint pain and some suggested it would also ease digestive symptoms.

Does Garcinia Cambogia Extract Work for Weight Loss?

Garcinia cambogia may help you lose weight and shed belly fat. It does contain a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is known for its anti-obesity effects.

Because this compound is the principal organic acid found in garcinia cambogia, some suggest that consuming the extract could help you lose weight by reducing body fat. Others propose that it could increase the number of calories you burn while limiting your food intake. This could help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, among others.

It works in different ways once inside the body. Some studies show that it contributes to feelings of satisfaction and fullness by raising the levels of serotonin. It also revealed to decrease fat production and accelerate fat burn by blocking an enzyme called citrate lyase.

Conversely, there is some evidence that garcinia cambogia might increase fat metabolism as it increases endurance [4]. Increased endurance leads to longer exercise sessions, which is the key takeaway as it has a cascading effect on the body.

Despite its weight-loss claims, experts aren’t exactly sure that this extract lives up to its hype. More recent studies found that the effects aren’t as powerful as earlier studies suggested.

A 2020 review of 11 short-term studies found no significant weight loss associated with HCA for weight loss [5].

One study showed similar results: it noted only a 2-pound difference in weight loss between those who took the garcinia cambogia weight loss supplement and those who did not [6]. The study did not rule out that the 2-pound weight loss might’ve come from increased exercise.

Does Garcinia Cambogia Extract Have Other Health Benefits?

Some research found that garcinia cambogia may work to improve cholesterol levels, raising HDL—good cholesterol—while lowering LDL—bad cholesterol—and triglyceride levels. However, if you’re already on cholesterol medication, it’s best to avoid taking garcinia and instead, seek medical advice.

Garcinia cambogia extract shows to have positive effects on laboratory rats with high cholesterol

Also, because the supplement raises serotonin levels in the brain, it could potentially help those suffering from depression. However, make sure you consult your doctor before taking any supplement containing any HCA content as it can interact with other drugs.

Another reason why people are taking garcinia cambogia is to remove worms and parasites from the intestines. The chemical found in the rind might have some benefits, however, there’s a substantial lack of research, so it’s best to consult your doctor before taking any supplements [7].

People have also used it as a laxative and aid in improving bloody diarrhea. Still, always consult your physician before taking anything.

Garcinia Cambogia Extract Side Effects

Garcinia cambogia isn’t without its risks. Some potential side effects may include:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive tract discomfort

These are generally side effects related to taking HCA, and they’re usually quite mild. However, when taken in higher doses, HCA can be harmful to the liver. It is also one reason why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t support taking garcinia cambogia.

Additionally, garcinia cambogia can interact badly with the following:

  • Pain medicines
  • Diabetes medication, including insulin and pills
  • Prescriptions for any psychiatric condition

You should also avoid taking the supplement if you’re pregnant or nursing. There’s also a possibility that it could trigger manic symptoms.

Another potential side effect is a tendency to view garcinia cambogia as medication and not a dietary supplement. It’s essential to be aware of how to use an appetite suppressant and understand that it’s not a quick fix. For the best results, you should pair it with a diet plan and exercise regime.


The small and often conflicting amount of available research about garcinia cambogia makes it hard to make an informed decision. The following frequently asked questions may help you sort out all the useful information about garcinia cambogia.

Is Garcinia Cambogia Extract Safe?

The safety of garcinia cambogia supplements has been questioned both by health experts and the FDA, who currently marked it as unsafe.

There are reports stating that garcinia cambogia and HCA supplements are safe for consumption if taken for short periods, under 12 weeks. But, there are also reports of toxicity in human studies.

Still, it’s generally safe when taken in small doses of up to 2,800 mg per day. However, when taking higher doses, it was linked to liver failure and other adverse effects, with one user requiring a liver transplant. Recent animal studies further showed that higher doses could be toxic [8].

Although the number of cases with liver damage caused by a garcinia cambogia supplement is limited, it’s however, crucial that you know exactly how much HCA is in the product you’re taking.

Another potential concern is how the rise in serotonin affects the brain. Cases have been reported of mania symptoms associated with increased levels of serotonin.

Note that taking appetite suppression and diet pills isn’t without its share of risks. For instance, it can cause malnutrition if not taken properly. It could affect your energy levels, leading to fatigue, which impacts your activity level.

Garcinia cambogia and HCA supplements aren’t risk-free and for these reasons, we highly recommend consulting your care provider before taking them. Instead of consuming potentially harmful substances, your health care professional can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment to help control your body weight and keep the pounds off.

Is Garcinia Cambogia Extract Legal?

Garcinia cambogia is legal to buy. However, you should proceed with caution since the effects of garcinia cambogia dietary supplements aren’t fully clear.

Because these are dietary supplements, manufacturers don’t need FDA’s approval, meaning there’s a lack of regulation. This could mean that some products contain illegal or potentially dangerous content.

This is not to say that every garcinia cambogia product is unsafe. To help keep yourself safe, choose a product from a reputable manufacturer who got their supplement tested by a third party.

How Do I Take Garcinia Cambogia Extract?

The most common way of consuming garcinia cambogia is through herbal tea, which aids in weight loss. There are numerous products available sold at most health stores and supermarkets.

Look for advertising like “slimming tea” and “weight loss tea.” Consult your doctor before purchasing or drinking any teas containing garcinia cambogia, especially if you have any conditions or take prescription medication.

The second most popular form is capsules. Here, you also have a wide range of brands to choose from, but we recommend that you research the health information included on the package. Be sure that you know exactly how much HCA is in the weight loss supplements before consuming, and again, consult your health care provider.

You should be wary of weight loss supplements as many do contain other ingredients that could interfere with your health.

Who Shouldn’t Take Products Containing Garcinia Cambogia Extract?

Garcinia cambogia isn’t for everyone and you should be cautious before consuming any product.

For starters, if you’re pregnant or nursing, experts advise that you avoid these. This is mainly because there’s no definitive information on the side effects of pregnant or breastfeeding women who consume products containing HCA.

Another reason to steer clear of this product is if you have any type of liver damage or take medication for other conditions. A major risk with these products is something called hepatotoxicity, which is where the liver is exposed to high levels of a damaging drug or chemical.

You should also be cautious if you suffer from a mental illness, especially bipolar disorder. As we’ve said earlier, the content of HCA can worsen symptoms of mania, leading to worse manic episodes.


Garcinia cambogia extract is mostly used as a weight loss aid due to its hydroxycitric acid content that’s linked with anti-obesity effects and appetite suppressant. However, it’s not without risks and has shown to lead to liver damage, interact with other medications, and worsen mania symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that it isn’t a quick fix to weight loss problems, and you should implement it along with a healthy diet and an exercise regime that suits you.

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1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Garcinia Cambogia.” www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garcinia-cambogia, December 2020.

2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health“ Garcinia Cambogia.” www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garcinia-cambogia, December 2020.

3. Drury, Heber. The useful plants of India: With notices of their chief value in commerce, medicine, and the arts. WH Allen, 1873.

4. Lim, Kiwon, et al. “(-)-Hydroxycitric Acid Ingestion Increases Fat Utilization During Exercise in Untrained Women.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 2003.

5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Garcinia Cambogia.” www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garcinia-cambogia, December 2020.

6. RxList. “Garcinia.” RxList www.rxlist.com/garcinia/supplements.htm, 2019.

7. RxList. “Garcinia.” RxList www.rxlist.com/garcinia/supplements.htm, 2019.

8. Reba-Harrelson, Lauren et al. “Features Associated with Diet Pill use in Individuals with  Eating Disorders.” Eating Behaviors, 2008.