Authentic Hoodia Gordonii costs $225/kg USD on the open market as of Jan 2006.
Hoodias are also grown as garden plants. Species and varieties:
Hoodia ruschii (Queen of the Namib)
Investigation of Hoodia gordonii as an appetite suppressant
The use of Hoodia is long known by the indigenous populations of Southern Africa, who infrequently use these plants for treating indigestion and small infections.
United Kingdom-based Phytopharm teamed with drug giant Pfizer to isolate active ingredients and look into synthesizing the extracts for use as an appetite suppressant. Pfizer released the rights to the primary ingredient in 2002. Paul Hutson, associate professor in the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Pharmacy, told the Wisconsin State News, "For Pfizer to release something dealing with obesity suggests to me that they felt there was no merit to its oral use" (Rath 2005).
In December 2004 Unilever entered into an agreement with Phytopharm to start marketing Hoodia Gordonii commercially in the form of shakes and diet bars.
Only one scientific study has been published, and in that clinical trial the extract was injected directly into the brain of rats (MacLean 2004). No published double-blind scientific trials have been performed on humans to investigate the safety or effectiveness of Hoodia gordonii in pill form as a nutritional supplement.
The press coverage and heavy marketing by nutritional supplement companies have created such a demand for Hoodia plants that a protected status was imposed in several countries like Namibia. Many products claiming to contain hoodia do not actually contain the active ingredient alleged to suppress appetite.
Lack of scientific evidence or regulatory approval have not stopped dietary supplement companies from marketing Hoodia gordonii extracts with claims that it can lower blood pressure and reduce the appetite. Goen Technologies Corporation's TrimSpa unit began marketing Hoodia gordonii under the brand name X32 with celebrity spokesperon Anna Nicole Smith, even though FDA has notified Trimspa that it hasnt demonstrated that the product is safe or effective.
As for possible anecdotal evidence, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl ventured out into the desert with a camera crew and an experienced tracker in order to find and try authentic hoodia gordonii for herself. According to the article on the CBSNews website, Lesley was not hungry the rest of the day even when she would normally have "a pang around mealtime." According to Stahl, "I'd have to say it did work."
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