I was asked about this herbal extract recently. It’s being marketed in a weight loss supplement at the moment.
Caralluma fimbriata is extracted from an edible cactus that is grown in India. It is marketed as an appetite suppressant that will help people lose weight. In the supplement on the market in Australia the dosage is 6g of Caralluma fimbriata.
So let’s talk about the research available on this extract.
Remember that in the pharmaceutical industry a drug cannot be sold until there are several long term studies. A good solid study would have at least 1500 volunteers with at least half receiving the active study drug, half receiving a placebo “non active” tablet, with the side effects closely monitored and results documented for at least 1 year.
There was one study on humans that ran for 60 days. Fifty overweight volunteers were in the study with half receiving placebo. The dose of the extract was 1g per day. The study found that there was a significant drop in waist measurement and appetite and a trend of weight loss that wasn’t statistically different between groups.
The only other study was on 18 rats. The rats were given two different types of food (pellets or pellets and “cafeteria style food” and given differing doses of Caralluma fimbriata for 90 days and there was an effect on appetite on the 3rd week of taking the extract in the highest dose and less weight gain in those receiving Caralluma fimbriata.
This extract may or may not help with weight loss, there’s not enough research. There haven’t been any long term studies to show what kind of weight loss could occur and be sustained at 1 year. Side effects are unknown at this stage. It is constantly amazing how herbal extracts can be marketed as helping with weight loss with very small research studies compared to the medications that a doctor can prescribe.
Journal Nutrition Metabolism 2010: 2010:285301 Antiobesogenic and Antiatherosclerotic Properties of Caralluma fimbriata Extract
Appetite 2007 May 48 (3) : 338-44 Effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake, and anthropometry in adult Indian men and women.