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Hoodia is a flowering, cactus-like plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert in Africa. Historically, the San Bushmen used hoodia to suppress appetite.

Today, hoodia dietary supplements are used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss.

Hoodia is available as liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules. Some hoodia products also contain other herbs or minerals, such as green tea or chromium.

How Much Do We Know?

We know very little about hoodia because only one study of this herb has been done in people.

What Have We Learned?

In the one small study of hoodia in people, overweight women who took hoodia for 15 days didn’t lose more weight than those who took a placebo.

What Do We Know About Safety?

Little is known about the safety of hoodia. However, the one completed study in people raises concerns. In that study, participants taking hoodia had more side effects than those taking placebos, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and odd skin sensations; they also had increases in blood pressure and undesirable changes in some blood tests.

Whether hoodia interacts with medicines or other supplements is not known.

Keep in Mind

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Blom WAM, Abrahamse SL, Bradford R, et al. Effects of 15-d repeated consumption of Hoodia gordonii purified extract on safety, ad libitum energy intake, and body weight in healthy, overweight women: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;94(5):1171-1181.
  • Hoodia. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on April 20, 2015. [Database subscription].


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