Can Caralluma help reduce obesity?

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The Obesity Epidemic.

Obesity rates have been climbing world-wide for the last few decades. In fact, in some places in the United States, it’s considered an epidemic. There are a whole host of contributing factors to this increase of obesity, including poor diet, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, and even genetics. Alongside the obesity dilemma are the steps, or lack thereof, which people take to lower their weight: dieting, medications, herbal remedies, exercise, and surgery. What works for some often does not work for others. And for some people, noting seems to work at all.

One herbal remedy that has recently gained attention for its potential to reduce body fat is caralluma. Caralluma is a succulent plant, from the cactus family. It is found mainly in India, though it often appears in dry climates from Southern Europe to Afghanistan. Caralluma was traditionally chewed by Indian tribes to hold back hunger while on long hunting trips. Nowadays, Caralluma extract is used as an appetite suppressant, a thirst quencher, and an energy booster.

Caralluma and Metabolic Syndrome

Central obesity, also known as belly fat, is one of the main components of metabolic syndrome, which is a collection of factors that contribute to heart disease and Type II diabetes. A recent study in Australia sought to test whether Caralluma, used alongside a controlled diet and exercise program, would be effective in reducing central obesity as well as other contributing factors like high blood pressure.

In this study, forty-three overweight and obese adults participated in a 12-week diet and exercise program. One group was given a twice-daily dose of Caralluma extract, while the other group was given a placebo (fake pill). Weight loss in both groups was recorded on a weekly basis. At nine weeks, the group taking Caralluma lost 5.7 cm (2.24 in) of belly fat, while the group taking the placebo lost only 2.8 cm (1.1in). And at the end of the 12 weeks belly fat loss was 6.5 (2.55 in) as compared to 2.6 (1.02 in). The study also reported a significant reduction in overall body weight, hip circumference, blood pressure, among other factors. The researchers concluded that a Caralluma supplement, when used with diet and exercise, appears to play a role in reducing central obesity and other factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome.

Is Caralluma Safe and Effective?

When it comes to herbal supplements, there is always a concern that the supplements could be doing more harm than good.  A recent study examined both of these issues using acommercially-available Caralluma extract supplement.

For the study, researchers gathered 89 overweight and obese people and split them into two groups. The first group received two 500 milligram Caralluma capsules each day for 12 weeks, and the second group received placebos. At four-week intervals, each group was evaluated for body weight, waist circumference, appetite, and other changes in overall health. At the end of the study, researchers noted that there was no significant difference in weight loss or health between the group that took Caralluma supplements and the group that took a placebo. Furthermore, there was no measureable reduction in appetite. The researchers concluded that although it appears that Caralluma supplements are safe to take, further research must be conducted before Caralluma extract can be recommended as an anti-obesity drug.

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