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MrsJim 06-26-2004 10:24 AM

Alleged "Hoodia" pills and products - the latest scam!
This was initially going to be a reply in the "appetite supressants" thread but after doing a bit of research, felt the subject of hoodia deserved its own thread - since apparently the snake oil salesmen are now jumping on the plant as the answer to their loss of ephedra as a 'miracle diet ingredient'.


Originally Posted by caralea
I just found a tea, its called BIJA Healing Teas. Hoodia Slimming, its cactus and green tea and other good stuff. It acts as an appetite suppressant. I also take Niacin and Chromemate, they are vitamins that help with cravings. Its all working, Ive lost 13 pounds in less than 3 weeks. I also listen to a Low Carb Self Hypnosis CD at night.

I wonder though...if there's actually Hoodia in that tea. TrimSpa has also touted the Hoodia that is allegedly in their pills (it's the hot new 'diet ingredient' now) and are now being sued in New York for NOT containing the component in the plant that is alleged to burn fat.

And another thing to keep in mind is that the plant has still not been proven to cause weight loss. I found this article in the Botswana Daily Sun website:


British company studies hoodia viability
12 January, 2004

A British pharmaceutical company, Phytopharm, is carrying out clinical trials to establish the viability of the use of extracts of hoodia plant by obese people.

Nonofo Mosesane, the curator natural history ‹ Botanical Garden ‹ told BOPA that the results of the trials are expected in 2008.

Mosesane said if the results are favourable, people could plant hoodia, which is known as seboka or sekgophana in Setswana, for commercial purposes.

The plant was recently included in the list of protected plant species.

"Everything is possible with planting hoodia, you can plant it vegetatively or through seeds," Mosesane said, adding that his office did some casual trials and planted 12 seeds on November 21 2003, which has germinated by surprise on November 25. The seeds are said to be growing well albeit slowly, probably because they were planted in a tray and were placed under a shade.

He said the ideal place to plant hoodia is in sandy soil. As is the case with other succulents, hoodia does not need to be watered as watering could kill it.

Mosesane said the plant might not be increasing in the bush because all indigenous plants have their natural enemies that are always waiting to prey on them. "Although wind and birds are good at seed dispersal, they tend to be a hindrance in spreading the plant as it lands in areas not suitable for its habitation," he explained.

He said the seeds need safe seed trap sites, adding that acacia, shrubs and rocks are found the best providers of safe sites.

Hoodia is common in communal areas but it is difficult for it to replenish itself due to ploughing of crops and livestock that destroys the newly geminating plant through their hooves. "Animals do not eat hoodia but some can feed on the roots thus killing the plant," he also explained. One of the natural enemies of hoodia is the snout beetle, which attacks the plant from the roots up to the stem.

Towards the end of last year, the news media went on a frenzy about a weed mistaken for hoodia, which was reportedly being exported to the United States.
So they won't really know if it "works" for another 4 years, supposedly! Of course, until then (or when the FDA cracks down), the marketers will be selling the crap out of hoodia, or (as the article says) what they purport to be Hoodia.

Another article - this one from the ABC News, dated 7 Aug 2003:



Desert Diet
Ancient Tribal Remedy Could Be Next Big Drug to Fight Obesity

By Matthew McGarry

L O N D O N, Aug. 7
— A wild plant used by generations of native Bushmen in South Africa's Kalahari Desert to help them avoid starvation in the dry, hot sands could make them millionaires if it is successfully developed into a weight-loss drug for Westerners.

"I learned how to eat it from my forefathers," said one member of the San tribe, a people who live in the Kalahari Desert, as he prepared a piece of the cactus-like plant called hoodia by trimming off the prickly spikes. "It is my food, my water, and also a medicine for me."

According to San spokesman Andries Steenkamp, his people ate the hoodia plant for thousands of years in order to ward off hunger pains and to quench their thirst during lean times and when they were forced to survive during long hunting trips.

"Hoodia stops hunger and also treats sickness," Steenkamp told ABCNEWS. "We, San, use the plant during hunting to fight off the pain of hunger and thirst."

Pfizer Developing Key Ingredient

Now drug firms are tapping into the San knowledge, and are hoping to make a fortune by developing the hoodia plant into a miracle slimming pill for millions of overweight Americans and Europeans.

One of those firms is Pfizer, the U.S. pharmaceutical giant responsible for Viagra. It has invested as much as $21 million for the rights to develop and license the active ingredient of hoodia, called P-57.

Obesity is a growing problem in Western countries, where 100 million people are dangerously overweight. Doctors say excessive weight gain causes a myriad of medical problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and the onset of strokes.

P-57 works by mimicking the effect that glucose has on nerve cells in the brain — in effect fooling the body into thinking it is full, even when it is not, thus curbing the appetite.

Clinical trials in the United Kingdom suggest P-57 could reduce appetite by up to 2,000 calories a day, making it a potential runaway success in the multimillion-dollar dieting industry. Developers of P-57 hope to see it available as a prescription drug by 2007, after further clinical trials.

The irony that some of the world's most overfed people may benefit from some of the hungriest was not lost on the San.

"At first people here were a bit shocked," said Nigel Crawhall, a professor at the South African San Institute and a campaigner for the rights of indigenous tribes. "Why would anybody want to lose weight by eating the hoodia plant? Because it's meant for when you're traveling across the desert and you don't have enough to eat. So we thought it was a bit weird."

Promised a Cut in Profits

A tribe of hunter-gatherers whose 20,000-year-old culture was recently close to extinction, the San people could now have found the ultimate survival weapon in their reliance on hoodia. Pfizer has promised them a cut of the royalties.

But the chance to share in the proceeds of a revolutionary new diet drug didn't come without a fight.

Roger Chennells, a lawyer who in 1999 helped the San win back a large portion of their ancestral homelands in South Africa, decided to challenge the drug firms and the South African research institute that originally took out the hoodia patent in 1996.

After a prolonged battle an agreement was finally reached earlier this year. "There was a certain amount of mistrust because it was a significant amount of money and each side had a lot to lose," said Chennells. "But after a fight, both parties were satisfied."

Now the San will help to cultivate the plant and should the drug come to market, their impoverished community of an estimated 100,000 people scattered across the Kalahari Desert stands to gain millions of dollars annually, plus jobs and scholarships.

Dreams of Riches

But first the drug must be proven to work and then it must be declared safe to use by government medical boards.

Crawhall said the mood is one of anxious anticipation. "There are lots of promises, and lots of excitement, but people have seen promises before and they don't always deliver, so there's also a bit of caution," he said. "People can't help but wondering if this is really going to happen or not."

In the meantime, the needy San people continue to hang on to life in the harsh and unforgiving Kalahari Desert, comforted by dreams of future riches and how they will spend all that money.
And yet another article:

Magic molecule ... and the millionaire bushmen

June 23 2003

A cactus in the Kalahari desert may save the West from obesity and bring millions of dollars to an impoverished African tribe, writes Tom Mangold.

Imagine this. A pill that kills the appetite and attacks obesity, is organic, with no chemicals added, has no known side effects, and contains a miracle molecule that fools the brain into believing you are full and even stops you thinking about food.

A mirage? A product as likely as the pill that turns water into petrol? No. It's true and it's here. And I know it works because I've tried it.

Deep inside the arid Kalahari desert, which intrudes into South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, grows an ugly looking cactus (actually a succulent) called the Hoodia plant. It thrives in temperatures that boil your brain - 50 degrees plus, and it takes years to mature.

When scientists at the South African Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research were routinely testing the cactus for commercial or medicinal value, they discovered to their amazement that the plant contained a new molecule, unknown to man, since christened P.57.

The Eureka moment came when the boffins from CSIR checked with the San tribe of bushmen, equivalent to the Aborigines of Australia and among the world's oldest and most primitive hunter-gatherers, who have historically eaten the Hoodia during their hunting trips in the Kalahari. To stave off the worst of the hunger pangs during their trips across infertile lands, they chewed the Hoodia. They've been eating this for thousands of years and believe me, you won't see a fat San today.

Once the South Africans realised what they had, they sold the license for P.57 to a small British bio-pharma-ceutical company, Phytopharm, which has an ethical policy of rewarding the Third World for pharmaceutical breakthroughs that make money for the First World.

As soon as the implications of P.57 were absorbed by the British, Phytopharm sold the development and marketing rights to the giant Pfizer Corporation for $US32 million ($A47.5million). They in turn have invested a further $US400 million in a product that could rival their own Viagra for profits.

When I travelled to the Kalahari recently to try it for myself, I met families of the San bushmen, a sad, impoverished and displaced tribe, still unaware that they are sitting on a green/goldmine. If the Hoodia works as most believe it will, the 100,000 San strung along the edge of the Kalahari will become overnight millionaires on royalties negotiated on their behalf by their "white-knight", South African lawyer Roger Chennells. They'll need all the help they can get to handle the lottery win. Currently many smoke industrial quantities of marijuana, suffer from alcoholism, and have neither possessions nor any sense of the value of money. One notable exception - their highly intelligent negotiator, Petrus Valboie, who will be working to create and help administer a trust fund for his tribe, doesn't own the shirt on his back or the chinos he travels in.

The truth is no one has grasped what the magic molecule means for their fat counterparts in the developed world. More than 100 million people in the developed world are now clinically obese. Soon it will be statistically safer to smoke than to overeat. A pandemic of obesity is sweeping the world and in its wake come the attendant plagues of diabetes and heart attacks.

Sure, you can try every appetite suppressant on the market until those amphetamine "jiggers" give you the permanent shakes, pay hundreds of dollars for every fashionable medical injection, or slavishly follow each new diet fad, but the results are awfully similar. Ninety per cent of us will finish up where we started - overweight and still eating too much. And for the very fat - an early death is often predictable.

The truth about food after 40 is that it is required for maintenance only. We really don't need to eat that much to keep healthy, trim and fit. The problem is we live in a culture that forces food at us. In America, people already snack all day. There are no meal times. We think too much about food, make too many ceremonies around it. But how can we stop?

The miracle of Hoodia is that it seems to do it for you. According to Dr Richard Dixey, the boss of Phytopharm, here's how P.57 actually works: "There's a part of your brain, the hypothalamus, and within that mid-brain there are nerve cells that sense glucose sugar. Now when you eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, and these cells start firing and now you are full.

"But the problem with the overweights and the obese is that they will still sneak down the fridge at two in the morning and hit the HaagenDaz, consume huge amounts of calories and still not feel full," Dixey says.

"What the Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that's about ten thousand times as active as glucose. It goes to the mid-brain and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full. But you haven't eaten food. Nor do you want to. That's how it works."

When Dixey organised the first animal trials for Hoodia he was astonished to discover that rats, a species that will eat literally anything, not only stopped eating, but even lost interest in what to a rat is a five-star cordon bleu delicacy, salami and chocolate.

When the first human clinical trial was conducted by Phytopharm, the company chose a morbidly obese group of people from Leicester, England, and placed them in a "phase 1 unit", a place as close to prison as it gets. All the volunteers could do was read papers and watch television - and eat. Half the group were given Hoodia, half were given placebo. At the end of 15 days, the group on Hoodia had reduced their food intake by 1000 calories a day. Given the average daily diet is around 2200 calories, this was a stunning success.

So we set out for the Kalahari desert four hours north of Cape Town in search of the cactus. It turns out to be an unattractive plant that sprouts about 10 tentacles the size of a long cucumber. Each tentacle is covered in spikes, which need to be carefully peeled. Inside is a slightly unpleasant-tasting, fleshy plant. I ate about half a banana size - and later so did my cameraman. It was about 6pm. I did not then believe in the tooth fairy or the Hoodia.

Soon after we began the four-hour drive back to Cape Town. The plant is said to have a feel-good almost aphrodisiac quality, and I have to say we felt good. But more significantly, we didn't think about food. Our brains really were telling us that we were full. It was a magnificent deception. Dinner time came and went. We reached our hotel at about midnight and went to bed without thinking of food. Neither of us wanted nor did we eat breakfast. I had a very light lunch but consumed it without appetite and very little pleasure. Partial then full appetite returned slowly after 24 hours. It was no scientific test but that plant worked on me.

The San bushmen all tell me the plant has a distinct aphrodisiac effect too. I didn't experience that, but I did have a feeling of well-being that was most unusual.

Valboie says the plant is a wonder-plant, giving energy to scour the desert by day and a new strength to make love all night. It allegedly cures hangovers and settles an upset stomach too.

Chennells, the San's lawyer, gave some Hoodia to a fat dog and it immediately stopped eating. He tried it himself and he lost his appetite. Did it have an aphrodisiac effect on him? "Let's just say I was in the desert, alone, and I felt very strong," he smiled.

If there are side effects - and the clinical trials have still got three to four years to run, they have yet to emerge. Chennells is ecstatic: "The San will finally throw off thousands of years of oppression, poverty, social isolation and discrimination. We will create trust funds with their Hoodia royalties and the children will join South Africa's middle classes in our lifetime." The royalties will allow the San (who were once hunted like animals by the whites) to buy their own land, and to join the 21st century. The irony is that a primitive and impoverished Third World tribe will be passing its historic knowledge of the miracle molecule to a developed world groaning under the weight of its insatiable appetites.

Says Chennells: "I envisage Hoodia cafes in London and New York, salads will be served and the Hoodia cut like cucumber onto the salad. It will need flavouring to counter its unpleasant taste, but if it has no side effects and no cumulative side effects - and it hasn't for the San as far as we know, then the fat world will have found the silver bullet it's been looking for."

But the new green/gold rush in South Africa has already brought in the snake-oil salesmen and bandits. Earlier this year, in Namibia, a group of men was stopped by the police as they were taking Hoodia plants out of the sand. The men claimed to have permission from the CSIR in Pretoria, but this was a lie. They were one of several groups of bio-pirates, scouring the vast emptiness of the Kalahari looking to steal the precious Hoodia and smuggle it out of southern Africa.

I discovered some of the Hoodia has already reached the United States where a "grey" market in the Hoodia has already taken off. You can check the net for Hoodia products, but be careful, as the ones I found are worthless frauds. One popular "Hoodia" appetite suppressant sells under the name of Lipodrene. I had the pill independently analysed in London and it turns out to have "no discernible Hoodia" in it. I would be equally careful of trying any other alleged Hoodia pills. Pfizer have sole marketing rights, the clinical trials have three or four years to run so be patient.

And don't try travelling to the Kalahari to find the cactus on your own. Not only is it illegal to export it, it will die long before you step off the plane in Australia. Besides, the Kalahari is inhospitable, and the only people who can help you locate it in the wild, the San bushmen, are the very people who won't help as they would be robbing themselves of their inheritance.

Besides, the plant is becoming more rare. The South African CSIR are now cultivating it in industrial quantities at a secret location under armed guard. The truth is, that if the plant delivers on its initial promise, it will do for fat people what pain killers have done for headaches, and Viagra for sex. But it still has a way to go before it can be synthesised into a simple pill.

There is one way in which you might be able to beat the system legally. The Hoodia thrives only in deserts at a temperature of 50 degrees and over. Australia has such an environment. It's just possible, the plant grows wild here too.

Tom Mangold and Dominick Ozanne's film The Anti-fat Pill and the Bushmen was made for BBC TV's Correspondent program.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/20...220476331.html
Here's a link to the transcript of that BBC program "The Anti-Fat Pill & The Bushmen" http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/h...s/03_06_01.txt



Tom Mangold
Behind three separate layers of very high security fence lies the South African Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research – the CSIR.

Tom Mangold
In the sixties scientists inside this well-guarded complex heard rumours of how the San tribesmen used the Hoodia to suppress appetite on long hunting trips. They took the plant and in their laboratories they tried to extract the active ingredient.

Tom Mangold
Today it is the revelation of what they have found which has turned this place into a pharmaceutical Fort Knox.

Tom Mangold
Ok, what have we got here?

Dr Petro Terblanche
Director, Biochemtech, CSIR
In the late sixties the scientists made an observation that the animal trials showed that the rats actually stopped eating and of course that triggered the inquisitive mind and we started investigating further. That was when the
PhD student actually made an extraction and identify a molecule, which has never been seen before. So there’s, there’s an ingredient in the Hoodia plant, which you could only find through very high level and significant scientific research, which this student then identified and by scanning the world literature and the world databases realised that this is truly novel and that is the invention that the CSIR then patented.

Tom Mangold
The road to freedom from poverty and hunger for the San runs through a small company called Phytopharm in Cambridgeshire who bought the license for Hoodia from the South African CSIR.

Phytopharm then promptly sold the rights to develop the drug for thirty two million dollars to the giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer who are continuing
trials on the plant.

So if the Hoodia can somehow bring about their salvation two more questions arise. Does it work, and will the money come in time?

This very good news is already out. A plant with a miracle molecule that can help cure the overweight is like the pill that can turn water into petrol. That's
worth stealing. So now a green gold rush has followed with bio-pirates trying to kidnap the plant.

The bandits working on the fringes of the law have mounted operations to steal and illegally export the precious cactus. Last year a group of men were
found in the Kalahari in Namibia cutting down wild plants.

When challenged by the Namibian police they claimed to have permission to harvest, but it turned out to be a complete lie. They were trying to open up
a grey market in Hoodia in the west, and they may have succeeded.

I learned that the Hoodia was being talked about in the sunshine belt states of the U.S.

And even though it's never been approved by the authorities it was even being sold openly on the net.

Indeed the fame of Hoodia has reached Georgia and Alabama. One of several products already available by mail order only through the internet is Lipodrene.

It's claimed to be the world's first Hoodia pill.

In the United States Hoodia is already being marketed very quietly on the net. There are three appetite suppressants on sale. They all claim to contain the miracle molecule in Hoodia. Talk to me about them.

Dr Richard Dixey:
Well I think it's a disgrace, frankly. We have done five years work so far on this plant, and on the back of the clinical trials we've published, a bunch of people have got hold of and they've just taken the clinical data and the
name of the plant and stuck it in their products.

In fact we analysed one of them to see if it contained any Hoodia. It didn't contain any Hoodia we could detect...It contained caffeine. It was a caffeine pill. And what had happened was they had seen the publicity about Hoodia
in the papers and thought, great, we'll stick Hoodia on our caffeine pill, make it a miracle cure.

Tom Mangold
And sure enough when we tested Lipodrene it turned out to have no discernible Hoodia in it. It's a plain fraud.

So who's buying this stuff? Do they know the Hoodia claims are false? Does the very thought of a new miracle molecule have some psychological value?

First stop Amanda Ward, a housewife who lives in a trailer with her two children, two dogs and truck driver husband.

She's been taking Lipodrene for three months since her husband bought her two bottles for Christmas.

Amanda first heard about Lipodrene from her friend Tracy.

Tom Mangold:
Amanda, let me just begin by asking you when it comes to doing something about it, a lot of people are simply going to say, why don't you eat less? Can you eat less?

Amanda Ward:
Oh, yeah. I've tried several diet products and I'm taking something now that really works.

Tom Mangold:
What, what are you taking now that works?

Amanda Ward:

Well, my appetite is suppressed but I haven't been, I just haven't been sticking to my diet.

Tom Mangold:
Because you know they say it's got this Hoodia plant from South Africa?

Amanda Ward:
Yes, she gave me a pamphlet and I read it and it had three different factors in it that it really works on your hips and your thighs and your middle section and it was that one ingredient that they were really talking about.

Tom Mangold:
Supposing I said to you it hasn't got the miracle molecule in it, it's just another appetite suppressant, would you be surprised?


Amanda Ward:
Yes, I would.

Tom Mangold:
Well, so much for the power of persuasion. People like Amanda are easy victims for the many snake oil salesmen already trying to cash in on Hoodia's fame.

The company marketing Lipodrene is called Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, run by Mr Jared Wheat, a shy and elusive individual. His offices and mail order
operation are in a rundown shopping mall on the outskirts of Atlanta.

As well as selling Lipodrene they also market an alleged impotence cure. Last year Mr Wheat, a former bodybuilder, was warned by the American Food and Drug Administration for making false and exaggerated medical claims for one of his products. Now he's at it again, claiming that Lipodrene contains a miracle slimming agent.

Wheat's Lipodrene leaflet makes no sense once it emerges that there's no Hoodia in the pill. So will Mr Jared Wheat explain himself now?

Jared Wheat:
Hello, may I help you?

Tom Mangold:
Hi, are you Mr Wheat? Hi, I'm Tom Mangold, BBC Television. Hi, nice to meet you at last. We wanted to have a chat to you about, you know we're making a film about the Hoodia? And we wanted to talk to you about Lipodrene and all that stuff. Have you got a moment to talk to us?

Jared Wheat:
Err, I told the gentleman I spoke to last time I don't do interviews.

Tom Mangold
Oh, why is that?

Jared Wheat
I just don't. You guys always twist stuff in negative ways and I don't trust the press.

Tom Mangold
We, we're not going to twist anything.

Jared Wheat
I had the local TV station tell me something very similar recently and I just don't want…
I spoke to your rep here recently, sir. I told him I had no interest whatsoever of doing any type of interview.

Tom Mangold
The one thing I wanted to ask you was, where do you get your Hoodia from? Do you get it from South Africa?

Jared Wheat
I am not going to comment on that either.

Tom Mangold
But could it be that you're getting it illegally?

Jared Wheat

Tom Mangold
Can you talk to us later on, Mr Wheat?

Jared Wheat
No, sir. I don't do interviews with the press.

Tom Mangold
Perhaps can we make a date for a week from now?

Jared Wheat
No, sir. You'd be wasting your time.

Tom Mangold
But they're quite simple questions. We've got nothing nasty to ask you.

Jared Wheat
I understand. No, thank you.

Tom Mangold
Are you sure?

Jared Wheat
Yes, sir.

Tom Mangold
Okay, well thanks for putting up with us anyway.
The entire transcript which I quoted a small portion of above is well worth reading in its entirety - wish I'd seen the show itself.

Okay: bottom line as I see it:
  • The alleged appetite suppressing ingredient in Hoodia is STILL under study for at least the next 3 years.
  • The alleged active ingredient, "P57" is patented and owned by a biopharmaceutical company, who sold the rights to Pfizer, makers of Viagra
  • The diet pills that claim to contain Hoodia which have been analyzed have been found to contain NO Hoodia.
  • As usual, the snake oil scam artists are after your money...

Amarantha2 06-27-2004 07:14 PM

Mrs. Jim, thanks for posting this as I had never even heard of "hoodia" and I appreciate the info and opinions.

Starkey 10-11-2004 02:23 PM

Hi All,
I have been watching all the hoodia info,I think Hoodia Gordonii Works!
But,we must be sure we use 100% hoodia gordonii....
I think the only way to be sure of this is to grow our own hoodia gordonii
from seeds.....which takes a long time to harvest....
I did find some gordonii seeds and have planted them.....
Now I wait......
Richard :^:

Suzanne 3FC 10-11-2004 03:35 PM

Hoodia may very well be an appetite suppressant, and could benefit the people that have uncontrollable problems with their appetites.

Unfortunately, it comes with the lack of testing to make sure that it doesn't have long term side effects or other safety issues. I would never ingest something that wasn't properly tested, any more than I would intentionally ingest a poison. My personal health goals are long term, and not just to fit into a size smaller jeans by next month, and mystery products don't fit in with that.

Besides, what is supposed to be so great about hoodia? It is possibly an appetite suppressant? Big hoowah, we already have those, that are well tested and any side effects are already known. See your physician for a prescription and ongoing monitoring, which you can't get by a mail order mystery product.

Of course a little willpower goes a long way, and appetite suppressants do nothing to address emotional eating, health problems, etc. Plus, taking any appetite suppressant does not cause weight loss by itself, so there is nothing magical about it. It helps you control your appetite, which is something completely different. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

We took a poll a few months ago with the question:
If a miracle drug were discovered that would make you lose weight effortlessly but the long term effects were unknown, would you take it anyway? Most people said no, that it wasn't worth the risk for a little bit of weight loss, that could be accomplished just as well without it. Hoodia fits this description perfectly.

My advice to anyone considering this item is to watch and wait. When your doctors recommend it, then go for it :)

MrsJim 11-21-2004 10:59 PM

Probably a bit late for most folks...but tonight's 60 Minutes will include a report by Leslie Stahl about hoodia. Starts in just a few minutes here on the West Coast. ;)

Fortunately, CBS has a page for the story on their news site.


African Plant May Help Fight Fat
Nov. 21, 2004

Each year, people spend more than $40 billion on products designed to help them slim down. None of them seem to be working very well.

Now along comes hoodia. Never heard of it? Soon it'll be tripping off your tongue, because hoodia is a natural substance that literally takes your appetite away.

It's very different from diet stimulants like Ephedra and Phen-fen that are now banned because of dangerous side effects. Hoodia doesn't stimulate at all. Scientists say it fools the brain by making you think you’re full, even if you've eaten just a morsel. Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports.
Hoodia is a bitter-tasting cactus-like plant. 60 Minutes was told that if it wanted to try hoodia, it would have to go to Africa. Why? Because the only place in the world where hoodia grows wild is in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa.

Nigel Crawhall, a linguist and interpreter, hired an experienced tracker named Toppies Kruiper, a local aboriginal Bushman, to help find it. The Bushmen were featured in the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”

Kruiper led 60 Minutes crews out into the desert. Stahl asked him if he ate hoodia. "I really like to eat them when the new rains have come," says Kruiper, speaking through the interpreter. "Then they're really quite delicious."

When we located the plant, Kruiper cut off a stalk that looked like a small spiky pickle, and removed the sharp spines. In the interest of science, Stahl ate it. She described the taste as "a little cucumbery in texture, but not bad."

So how did it work? Stahl says she had no after effects – no funny taste in her mouth, no queasy stomach, and no racing heart. She also wasn't hungry all day, even when she would normally have a pang around mealtime. And, she also had no desire to eat or drink the entire day. "I'd have to say it did work," says Stahl.

Although the West is just discovering hoodia, the Bushmen of the Kalahari have been eating it for a very long time. After all, they have been living off the land in southern Africa for more than 100,000 years.

Some of the Bushmen, like Anna Swartz, still live in old traditional huts, and cook so-called Bush food gathered from the desert the old-fashioned way.

The first scientific investigation of the plant was conducted at South Africa’s national laboratory. Because Bushmen were known to eat hoodia, it was included in a study of indigenous foods.

"What they found was when they fed it to animals, the animals ate it and lost weight," says Dr. Richard Dixey, who heads an English pharmaceutical company called Phytopharm that is trying to develop weight-loss products based on hoodia.

Was hoodia's potential application as an appetite suppressant immediately obvious?

"No, it took them a long time. In fact, the original research was done in the mid 1960s," says Dixey.

It took the South African national laboratory 30 years to isolate and identify the specific appetite-suppressing ingredient in hoodia. When they found it, they applied for a patent and licensed it to Phytopharm.

Phytopharm has spent more than $20 million so far on research, including clinical trials with obese volunteers that have yielded promising results. Subjects given hoodia ended up eating about 1,000 calories a day less than those in the control group. To put that in perspective, the average American man consumes about 2,600 calories a day; a woman about 1,900.

"If you take this compound every day, your wish to eat goes down. And we've seen that very, very dramatically," says Dixey.

But why do you need a patent for a plant? "The patent is on the application of the plant as a weight-loss material. And, of course, the active compounds within the plant. It’s not on the plant itself," says Dixey.

So no one else can use hoodia for weight loss? "As a weight-management product without infringing the patent, that’s correct," says Dixey.

But what does that say about all these weight-loss products that claim to have hoodia in it? Trimspa says its X32 pills contain 75 mg of hoodia. The company is pushing its product with an ad campaign featuring Anna Nicole Smith, even though the FDA has notified Trimspa that it hasn’t demonstrated that the product is safe.

Some companies have even used the results of Phytopharm’s clinical tests to market their products.

"This is just straightforward theft. That’s what it is. People are stealing data, which they haven’t done, they’ve got no proper understanding of, and sticking on the bottle," says Dixey. "When we have assayed these materials, they contain between 0.1 and 0.01 percent of the active ingredient claimed. But they use the term hoodia on the bottle, of course, so they -- does nothing at all."

But Dixey isn’t the only one who’s felt ripped off. The Bushmen first heard the news about the patent when Phytopharm put out a press release. Roger Chennells, a lawyer in South Africa who represents the Bushmen, who are also called “the San,” was appalled.

"The San did not even know about it," says Chennells. "They had given the information that led directly toward the patent."

The taking of traditional knowledge without compensation is called “bio-piracy.”

"You have said, and I'm going to quote you, 'that the San felt as if someone had stolen the family silver,'" says Stahl to Chennells. "So what did you do?"

"I wouldn't want to go into some of the details as to what kind of letters were written or what kind of threats were made," says Chennells. "We engaged them. They had done something wrong, and we wanted them to acknowledge it."

Chennells was determined to help the Bushmen who, he says, have been exploited for centuries. First they were pushed aside by black tribes. Then, when white colonists arrived, they were nearly annihilated.

"About the turn of the century, there were still hunting parties in Namibia and in South Africa that allowed farmers to go and kill Bushmen," says Chennells. "It's well documented."

The Bushmen are still stigmatized in South Africa, and plagued with high unemployment, little education, and lots of alcoholism. And now, it seemed they were about to be cut out of a potential windfall from hoodia. So Chennells threatened to sue the national lab on their behalf.

"We knew that if it was successful, many, many millions of dollars would be coming towards the San," says Chennells. "Many, many millions. They've talked about the market being hundreds and hundreds of millions in America."
In the end, a settlement was reached. The Bushmen will get a percentage of the profits -- if there are profits. But that’s a big if.

The future of hoodia is not yet a sure thing. The project hit a major snag last year. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which had teamed up with Phytopharm, and funded much of the research, dropped out when making a pill out of the active ingredient seemed beyond reach.

Dixey says it can be made synthetically: "We've made milligrams of it. But it's very expensive. It's not possible to make it synthetically in what’s called a scaleable process. So we couldn’t make a metric ton of it or something that is the sort of quantity you’d need to actually start doing something about obesity in thousands of people."

Phytopharm decided to market hoodia in its natural form, in diet shakes and bars. That meant it needed the hoodia plant itself.

But given the obesity epidemic in the United States, it became obvious that what was needed was a lot of hoodia - much more than was growing in the wild in the Kalahari. And so they came here.

60 Minutes visited one of Phytopharm’s hoodia plantations in South Africa. They’ll need a lot of these plantations to meet the expected demand.

Agronomist Simon MacWilliam has a tall order: grow a billion portions a year of hoodia, within just a couple of years. He admitted that starting up the plantation has been quite a challenge.

"The problem is we’re dealing with a novel crop. It’s a plant we’ve taken out of the wild and we’re starting to grow it,' says MacWilliam. "So we have no experience. So it’s different— diseases and pests which we have to deal with."

How confident are they that they will be able to grow enough? "We're very confident of that," he says. "We've got an expansion program which is going to be 100s of acres. And we'll be able – ready to meet the demand.

This could be huge, given the obesity epidemic. Phytopharm says it’s about to announce marketing plans that will have meal-replacement hoodia products on supermarket shelves by 2008.

MacWilliam says these products are a slightly different species from the hoodia Stahl tasted in the Kalahari Desert. "It's actually a lot more bitter than the plant that you tasted," says MacWilliam.

The advantage is this species of hoodia will grow a lot faster. But more bitter? How bad could it be? Stahl decided to find out. "Not good," she says.

Phytopharm says that when its product gets to market, it will be certified safe and effective. They also promise that it’ll taste good.
Phytopharm's website includes a Hoodia FAQ.

Gotta run - almost time for 60 Minutes! :cool:

Suzanne 3FC 11-22-2004 12:12 PM

I miss everything, lol. I'm going to set up 1-800-SUZANNE so people can call me anytime something interesting is coming on.

I do hope this will prove to be helpful to people that may have appetite problems. I still think that it needs to undergo extensive testing, though, to make sure there are no long term health issues involved, interactions with medications or other supplements, etc. We've been down that road too many times before.

Thanks for the info :)

MrsJim 11-22-2004 12:50 PM

Actually I don't watch 60 Minutes all that often - I just happened to be watching Channel 5 around 6:45 pm (15 minutes before) and a clip popped up. Well of course since it's about HOODIA, I had to watch!

It was very interesting - even Jim watched it. The Bushman who took Lesley Stahl into the desert found a hoodia plant and she sampled a small piece of it - the next day she said she had no cravings and basically forgot about food even at regular mealtimes. One VERY interesting point made - I'll edit the post above, since the article on the 60 Minutes website was expanded - is that the active ingredient in Hoodia CANNOT be made into a pill:


The future of hoodia is not yet a sure thing. The project hit a major snag last year. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which had teamed up with Phytopharm, and funded much of the research, dropped out when making a pill out of the active ingredient seemed beyond reach.

Dixey says it can be made synthetically: "We've made milligrams of it. But it's very expensive. It's not possible to make it synthetically in what’s called a scaleable process. So we couldn’t make a metric ton of it or something that is the sort of quantity you’d need to actually start doing something about obesity in thousands of people."

Phytopharm decided to market hoodia in its natural form, in diet shakes and bars. That meant it needed the hoodia plant itself.
Along with the latest news on Acomplia, we now have TWO possible very real scientific breakthroughs on the horizon...and I think that science is purusing the right track - rather than trying to find a 'fat burning' drug that lets you eat as much as you want and still lose weight, which I don't think is going to happen - they're working on the addictive nature of certain types of food - the HEAD HUNGER which kills so many weight loss efforts.

jansan 11-23-2004 12:39 AM

I had not heard of the weight loss potential of Hoodia before seeing these articles. Thanks for sending them. Very interesting stuff, but I doubt it will be a reasonable affordable solution in our life-times especially if Pfizer gave up on it. I can also see lots of potential for exploitation. Hoodia is a genus of about 20 species. Apparently only Hoodia gordonii has the appetite suppressing characteristics. So all Hoodias are not created equal. So you can buy all the Hoodia you want, and may not get the right one.

Several species of Hoodia are grown in the US as ornamental succulents - my Mom had one or two, but probably not gordonii. They are slow growing, interesting looking, but cannot be grown everywhere. They are in the same plant family as milkweed, vinca, and oleandar. Some members of this family are poisonous. If you want to see what the hoodia plant looks like, go here: http://www.cacti.co.il/hoodia.htm

Jan, who thinks 'eat less, exercise more' will be around for a long time to come.

MrsJim 11-23-2004 11:30 AM


Originally Posted by jansan
I had not heard of the weight loss potential of Hoodia before seeing these articles. Thanks for sending them. Very interesting stuff, but I doubt it will be a reasonable affordable solution in our life-times especially if Pfizer gave up on it. I can also see lots of potential for exploitation. Hoodia is a genus of about 20 species. Apparently only Hoodia gordonii has the appetite suppressing characteristics. So all Hoodias are not created equal. So you can buy all the Hoodia you want, and may not get the right one.

Several species of Hoodia are grown in the US as ornamental succulents - my Mom had one or two, but probably not gordonii. They are slow growing, interesting looking, but cannot be grown everywhere. They are in the same plant family as milkweed, vinca, and oleandar. Some members of this family are poisonous. If you want to see what the hoodia plant looks like, go here: http://www.cacti.co.il/hoodia.htm

Jan, who thinks 'eat less, exercise more' will be around for a long time to come.

CBS has a photo of the actual hoodia gordonii on its website:


I have no doubt that the products that have come out that claim to contain hoodia (TrimSpa, Lipodrene, various teas, etc) might be using the other varieties of hoodia, which would be MUCH easier to obtain than the 'real thing' - if you watched the 60 Minutes segment, you'll see that the wild plant isn't exactly easy to find - they had to use an experienced San tracker to find a small plant. The weight-loss supplement industry isn't exactly known for being honest and above board, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were using another variety of hoodia (which apparently do not contain the active key ingredient) in their products.

In fact, if you read my initial post in this thread, you'll find that the genesis of this very thread was due to some members here buying products which claim to contain hoodia. If you google 'hoodia' you'll get a TON of websites that are selling diet pills and other products. As is typical for these types of companies, they have been taking a grain of truth and using it to sell overpriced, overhyped crapola. I wanted to gather the FACTS, the REAL facts, about this plant here in Buyer Beware, so folks wouldn't get taken in by some scammy diet pill company.

According to the 60 Minutes segment, Pfizer dropped out when it was acertained that there was no feasible way of making a pill using the active ingredient. Doesn't mean the plant doesn't have possibilities - IMO Pfizer felt that if a pill or medication that would be easy to manufacture and ship in mass quantities wasn't going to happen, then it wouldn't be worth their while to pursue it further. Remember - bottom line, Pfizer has to answer to their shareholders and return a profit.

In addition, Phytopharm is the only company who can actually manufacture and market the Hoodia plant, not only as stated in the first article on this forum, but also from the FAQ on their website:


There are some other products that claim to contain Hoodia. Are they the same as Phytopharm's product?
Only Phytopharm's patented Hoodia gordonii product is botanically verified to contain pure Hoodia gordonii and has quantified levels of the chemical constituents that produce the anti-obesity effects. Importantly, only Phytopharm's Hoodia gordonii product has had extensive safety studies performed and been clinically proven to reduce calorie intake and body fat. The benefit sharing to the CSIR and the San people is only generated by Phytopharm's patented Hoodia gordonii product.

Do all Hoodia species reduce appetite?
Only Phytopharm's Hoodia gordonii extract has been proven to decrease calorie intake in human volunteers.

Is Hoodia gordonii patented?
The CSIR has submitted patents in territories all over the world relating to Hoodia gordonii. Phytopharm has an exclusive licence for these patents.

Hoodia gordonii is rare, is the source sustainable?
Hoodia gordonii is very rare and is protected by national conservation laws in South Africa and Namibia. It can only be collected or grown with a permit. Wild stocks are also extremely limited so Phytopharm has established plantations over the past 5 years to grow sustainable quantities of Hoodia gordonii exclusively for Phytopharm's product. There is a continuing development programme by Phytopharm to ensure sustainable supplies for Phytopharm's product in the future.
And OH YES...I do agree with you that to lose weight permanent lifestyle changes in diet and exercise are ESSENTIAL. As I stated in the thread about Acomplia - the proponents of both Acomplia and Hoodia aren't saying that you just ingest the product and burn fat while you lie around like a sow, eating McDonald's extra value meals - what they're targeted to DO is take away the 'head hunger' which is really the KILLER for most people - even folks who have had weight-loss surgery and can only eat an ounce or two of food at one time still have to deal with head hunger, which can be far worse than physical stomach hunger in my experience. If a safe and effective drug or product is developed that can assist people in STICKING TO THEIR DIET AND EXERCISE PLAN, then I'm all for it (especially if, as in Acomplia, it also can help people combat other deadly addictions such as tobacco and drug abuse).

jansan 11-23-2004 10:27 PM

The Acomplia research sounds very good too, even better than Hoodia.

As to the head hunger problem, which I agree is a far greater threat leading to gaining weight than physical hunger, you can deal with that by old fashion personal psychological investigation. There are several really good books on the subject, the best I have read being 'The Solution' by Laurel Mellin. And of course there is always therapy from a competent counselor. But good luck finding one.

In the Acomplia articles they say (going from yesteday's memory here) it can reduce not only food cravings, but also the inexorable draw of other addictions/compulsions. No small wonder because the underlying causes of almost all compulsive behaviors are pretty similar. Compulsive overeating, (drinking, comp. shopping, gambling, etc) is rooted not in the substance or activity abused, but rather in a pattern of behavior based on our own personal histories and erroneous beliefs about ourselves and life in general. (This is very hard to sum up in a couple sentences.)

Body problems (fat) need body solutions - eat less, exercise more. Head (emotional) hunger needs head (emotional) solutions. Or you can wait for the right pill to come along, and take it the rest of your life.


Suzanne 3FC 11-24-2004 11:41 PM

I think that 'head hunger' can be dealt with through personal investigation, like you suggested, but it may not always be possible for some people. The addiction to food can be just as serious as an addiction to drugs, in that it can be that difficult to overcome. Sometimes it's a minor problem and you can 'set yourself straight' and deal with it. A lot of the time, it's gone past that point. Getting started is the hardest part, and some people do need assistance with it. For some people, it is an emotional experience. For others, it's a true physical appetite problem. Under the right circumstances, medication is the best option for some people, and it isn't a lifetime committment, but just a 'push' to get people started.

Having said that, I don't think anyone should self-medicate themselves with OTC diet pills, but they should be under the care of their physician, so they can be monitored and counseled during the process. When someone buys a box of Trimspa at Walgreens, the cashier isn't going to ask about their medical history, how often they are taking it, what did they eat yesterday, and btw, let's check your blood pressure and heart rate.

Every person is unique, and the approach to safe weight loss is going to be a little different for everyone.

jansan 11-25-2004 01:50 AM

Hi Suzanne and all, I didnt mean to imply that personal investigation was easy because its certainly not. Perhaps for some it might be, but it took me several years of persistence to gain a fairly good understanding of it within me. With a good therapist it might take less time. The more you learn and become free, the more you want to learn. And the information is certainly better now than when I started blindly looking around in the late 80's having no clue where to look.

I suggested personal investigation for head hunger only because on most weight loss sites, medically oriented or informal, going beneath the surface of head/emotional hunger and trying to solve it is rarely, if ever, mentioned. About the only suggestions mentioned for a weight problem are to lose your weight via a diet, then hang on for dear life so you dont gain it back. Of course it is not up the informal wl support sites to suggest directions for recovery. Yet the majority of people would be able to gain some benefit from looking around in their own personal puzzles as to the root causes of head hunger -- if that is what they want to do. No one has to do it, there is no shame in choosing not to, especially if the idea greatly frightens you. Or if you think its simply nuts. (Mild fear of the unknown is normal.)

As to daily medication, I was thinking only of Acomplia for head hunger, not wl or anti-depressant medications. For those follow your doctors recommendations. And Acomplia isnt available yet.

Is 'looking beneath' a cure-all for everyone? Of course not. Can there be benefit for most people, absolutely. And you are right, its not for everyone, especially if they are working without benefit of a therapist. But if one is relatively stable, and is still suffering from great amounts of head hunger after years, and they are willing, what is the downside of beginning to look? If there is an impediment to one's looking, they will find it soon enough. All it takes is picking up a competent book from your public library such as Mellin's 'The Solution', or her newer book, 'The Pathway', doing some reading and thinking, then deciding if there is benefit in it for you. Or not.

I do think however its worth suggesting to those who may not even know its an option for solving their head hunger. There are indeed good non medication answers out there if you look. I have known quite a number of people who investigated on their own, or with professional help, and made great strides in ridding themselves of most head hunger (no longer thinking about food 24/7, eliminating or drastically reducing binge behavior, etc). But like everything else surrounding weight loss, there are no absolute final cures, just greater understanding coupled with much lessened head hunger. Doing it was absolutely worth every minute spent!


Nigel Crawhall 11-27-2004 12:58 PM

Hi folks, I was surfing around and saw your site with this whole discussion of hoodia. As the linguist in the 60 Minutes section some of you saw, I thought I might say hello and add a few comments. I am not a food scientist, I am a linguist, so anything I say is really from what I have learned from San elders. Several of the hoodias have medicinal property, though it is true that P57 was found in gordonii. I have not understood whether the others do or do not have P57 compound in them. The San, obviously, do not use hoodia for appetite suppression. They use it for lots of things in different applications: thrist suppression (eating it); giving yourself energy; against asthma, conjunctivitus, stomach problems, skin problems, and more. I have tried hoodia, it is interesting, and i think it does suppress appetite. Lesley Stahl's really did try it and was being honest (unusual in media these days!). However, to make it work like that you need a piece about 2 to 3 inches long, ideally fresh and full of recent rain water. There are a number of illegal products on the market here in South Africa claiming to have hoodia in them. From what we understand, they either have none or very small amounts, in which case it would have no effect on your appetite. The idea is interesting, the delivery is going to be the challenge. And appetite suppression is, as you know well, only one aspect of weight control. Good luck to everyone on here.

Suzanne 3FC 11-27-2004 05:50 PM

Thank you so much for the information, and taking the time to share your insight!

I'm sure we will have a serious problem with fake hoodia on the market, and I do hope the government can step in and put a stop to it soon. Perhaps it will be a viable and safe product which we can get in the future, but it sounds like that will be quite a few years away.

DietingLady 12-06-2004 08:05 AM

Hello, in 3F -

Recently I came back from a trip to find bottles of something called Desert Burn, claiming to contain 750 mg of 100% pure Hoodia Gordonii. My husband saw the CBS show, did research, and ordered it on the internet from (*edit*)


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