Garcinia Cambogia: Usage, Health Benefits & Side Effects

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For the past several years, Garcinia Cambogia has been one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market.

What makes it so popular is that it is natural, generally safe to consume for healthy people, and has shown positive results for weight loss (1).

Some people also take or consume Garcinia Cambogia as a dietary supplement to treat rheumatism, intestinal problems, and other health conditions (2, 3, 4, 5).

In this article, we will review the evidence behind the use of Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss, in addition to other health benefits and precautions.

What is Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia Cambogia fruit, known in the regions where it traditionally grows as Garcinia gummi-gutta or the Malabar Tamarind (6, 7).

The Garcinia Cambogia plant is native to India and Southeast Asia, and it is traditionally used to add a sharp taste to fish curries and other foods. It has also been used as a traditional botanical medicine to treat stomach aches, intestinal parasites, and rheumatism (joint pain) for generations (3).

Most recently, it has been used to treat weight loss through anti-obesity effects, as an appetite suppressant, and its increased “fat burner” effects.

How Does It Work?

Most of the effects of Garcinia Cambogia on people’s health are attributed to hydroxycitric acid (HCA), the main active ingredient in the fruit. Hydroxy citric acid is found in the rind of the Garcinia Cambogia fruit.

One of the proposed models of the pharmacological action of HCA on the body to promote fat loss is as follows (8):

  • When we consume more calories in the form of protein or carbohydrates that we need, its broken down form, glucose, gets stored as glycogen.
  • If glycogen stores are full, excess carbohydrates are chemically converted into a component called extramitochondrial Acetyl CoA.
  • Acetyl CoA, through an enzyme called ATP Citrate lyase, is needed to make fat that is stored in the body.
  • HCA blocks ATP citrate lyase, thus limiting the amount of Acetyl CoA in the body during a diet high in carbohydrates. The result is your body storing less fat in the body. It also helps to promote the use of fat for energy.
  • Additionally, glucose stores in the liver, which are kept high thanks to the reaction above, send signals to the brain that you are full. Additionally, research shows that it helps to regulate serotonin levels that make you feel full (9). This reaction is what helps to suppress appetite.
  • Finally, the blockage of ATP citrate lyase may also help to increase aerobic endurance (10).

The short version is as follows: the active ingredient of Garcinia Gambogia, which is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), may help to boost weight loss by:

  • Blocking fat storage
  • Making you feel fuller for longer
  • Increasing endurance during aerobic exercise

Research suggests that the same mechanisms by which Garcinia Cambogia helps you lose weight also help to fight diabetes, inflammation, cholesterol and triglycerides, cancer, and parasites, and it may help to protect the liver (9).

Is it Safe?

In general, if you stick to taking Garcinia Cambogia at recommended doses, it is safe to consume (11).

There have been some claims of adverse events and toxicity after taking Garcinia Cambogia or multicomponent supplements that contain Garcinia Cambogia in some form (14, 15).

However, toxicity studies, including those at very high doses in humans, showed no toxicity or significant adverse events, concluding it is safe to consume for most people at recommended doses (9, 12, 13, 19).

In order to ensure the safety of Garcinia Cambogia for you, it is important to get regular general check-ups and discuss supplement decisions with your doctor.

Garcinia Cambogia Health Benefits

Garcinia Cambogia Health Benefits

There are many health benefits attributed to Garcinia Cambogia, including, but not limited to, weight loss. Below is a summary of the research.

May help control blood sugar

Blood sugar is essentially food broken down into glucose (referred to as blood sugar) which is used by our cells for energy.

In people with diabetes, insulin, the hormone that is responsible for taking up glucose into cells, no longer works effectively in the body. Studies have shown that Garcinia Cambogia extract helped to efficiently improve glucose metabolism (16).

Helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides

Garcinia is best known for the component HCA, which helps to promote weight loss. However, the fruit also contains powerful antioxidants that are beneficial in other ways.

Lab studies showed how the antioxidants from Garcinia Cambogia helped to break down cholesterol and triglycerides in rats with high levels of these (17, 18, 19).

Fights intestinal parasites

Garcinia Cambogia is taken as a traditional medicine in India and Southeast Asia to fight stomach parasites. Research has found that Garcinia Cambogia does, in fact, have properties that kill digestive parasites (20, 21).

Helps promote weight loss

A study showed that Garcinia Cambogia acts like a hormone called leptin, which helps to control appetite and make you feel fuller (16). Several studies with animals and humans have shown that it helps to reduce body fat, BMI, and overall body weight (23, 24, 25).

It tends to be most effective in reducing belly fat, and fat around the organs (visceral fat) (26).

It is important to note that not all studies showed that Garcinia Cambogia worked for weight loss, had only a small effect, or didn’t work in the long term, though some of these same studies did detect improvements in other areas like blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride control (16, 22)

Side Effects

Some of the most common, but rare, side effects of taking Garcinia Cambogia include (2):

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

Usage and Dosing Considerations

It is important to stick to the recommended dosages of Garcinia Cambogia – most do not exceed 1000mg.

If you are taking Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss, it is important to pair it with a balanced diet and exercise for the best results in the long run.

Risks and Precautions

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, diabetes, liver issues, or other metabolic issues, you should not combine Garcinia Cambogia with your medicine unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.

It also may interact with pain medications and medications for psychiatric conditions (2).


How can I reduce my stomach fat?

The best way to reduce stomach fat is by ensuring you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Dietary supplements, like Garcinia Cambogia, may help you to accelerate fat loss results, including fat stored around the stomach.

Does Garcinia really help you lose weight?

Most research shows that Garcinia Cambogia does help to promote moderate weight loss and appetite control.

How much weight can I lose with Garcinia cambogia?

Most studies show that with Garcinia cambogia, you can lose about 2 pounds more taking Garcinia Cambogia over placebo when taken between 2  and 12 weeks (27, 28, 29). This effect can be increased when paired with diet and exercise.

Does Garcinia Cambogia burn belly fat?

Studies show that Garcinia Cambogia is effective for weight loss centered around the abdomen, which tends to accumulate around organs (25, 26).

Does Garcinia Cambogia affect your heart?

There is no evidence that Garcinia Cambogia will negatively affect your heart or cardiovascular system. In fact, Garcinia Cambogia can help to improve your heart health by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels (17, 18, 19).

Does Garcinia increase serotonin?

There are some rare reported cases where people who have taken Garcinia Cambogia have experience serotonin toxicity (30, 31). This is why it is important to consult with your doctor before taking supplements and always use the recommended doses.


Garcinia cambogia is one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market because it is natural, has no serious side effects, and has been shown to be effective for improving health beyond weight loss.

Studies with positive results show that it is effective for helping to reduce visceral fat (the type of fat that stores in the belly), and cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and even regulate insulin.

It may even help to fight off intestinal parasites! Weight loss results are moderate, but they can help to boost your current exercise and diet regimen.

It is important to note that there have been rare cases of reported toxicity, although most studies show that Garcinia cambogia has no toxic effects. Talk to your doctor about taking Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss, especially if you are already taking other medications.  




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