How does hoodia, the weight loss herb work? Medical research on hoodia carried out by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) discovered a molecule that they called P57. This ‘magic’ molecule is thought to be responsible for how hoodia reduces hunger: by tricking your brain. By taking this herb, the brain is sent a message from the digestive tract, that it is full and that the blood’s glucose levels are up.
These messages are sent to the brain’s hypothalamus, which then suppresses hunger signals. This valuable discovery was quickly put on the market and the license for P57 was sold to a Phytopharm, a bio-pharmaceutical company. A preliminary study of hoodia was done a group of volunteers in Leicester, UK. The individuals were placed on a 2,200 calories per day diet and then given the hoodia supplements. Their appetite decreased by an average of 1000 calories a day. These amazing results emphasized the potential health – and monetary – value of hoodia, and it was sold again to Pfizer Corporation.
Unfortunately, biased international licensing and trade regulations, unethical harvesting,as well as a lack of investment capital has not yet allowed the San people to benefit from the discovery and harvest of this herb on their tribal lands. The world market for herbal supplements is also still susceptible to low quality and counterfeit products.
With the vast riches to be made from what hoodia has to offer, it has one of the most common herbs to be sold in fake and counterfeit products. The National Geographic and the Guardian have documented the relatively short history of hoodia, as pharmaceutical companies continue to fight for exclusive rights to patent and sell the miracle herb.
The hoodia plant takes years to mature and is in danger of being exploited and eliminated from its natural environment. The large western pharmaceutical corporations have begun plans to grow it in plantations in South America.