Generic Name: garcinia

Brand and Other Names: Brindle berry, hydroxycitric acid

Drug Class: Herbals

What is garcinia, and what is it used for?

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical tree that grows in India, Southeast Asia and western Africa. Garcinia is extracted from the garcinia fruit rind and is marketed as an herbal supplement. People use garcinia for weight loss, to treat joint pain, bloody diarrhea, worm and parasite infections, to increase bowel movements and to enhance athletic performance. However, there is no good scientific evidence to support any of its uses.

The active compound in garcinia is hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Limited research suggests that hydroxycitric acid may aid weight loss by reducing the synthesis of body fat and suppressing appetite. Hydroxycitric acid is believed to work by inhibiting ATP-citrate lyase, an enzyme that is essential for lipid biosynthesis, and increasing glycogen synthesis in the liver. HCA may also raise the levels of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that regulates appetite.

Evidence from limited clinical trials indicate that garcinia may generate short term weight loss, but the effects are not significant. There have been reports of liver inflammation and damage associated with dietary supplements containing garcinia, although it is unclear if garcinia is the actual cause. Hydroxycitric acid is one of the ingredients in weight-loss supplements banned in 2009 for hepatotoxicity.

Warnings

  • Do not use garcinia if you are sensitive to it or any of its components.
  • Garcinia may be toxic to the liver; avoid use if you have impaired liver function
  • Garcinia can cause mania in bipolar patients and serotonin toxicity in patients on serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant therapy; exercise caution
  • May affect blood sugar levels; use with caution if you take diabetes medications
  • May slow blood clotting function; use with caution

What are the side effects of garcinia?

Common side effects of garcinia include:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug.

Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of garcinia?

There isn’t enough information on what might be an appropriate dose of garcinia.

Suggested dosing:

  • 800-1000 mg standardized extract orally twice daily
  • Standardized extract 50% hydroxycitric acid (HCA): 500 mg four times daily

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Overdose

  • Garcinia overdose can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and possibly liver injury.
  • In case of overdose, immediately seek medical help or contact Poison Control.

What drugs interact with garcinia?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

Garcinia has no known severe or serious interactions with other drugs.

Moderate interactions of garcinia include:

  • Anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs
  • Serotonergic drugs
  • Pain medicines
  • Drugs that are harmful to the liver
  • Diabetes medications

Garcinia has no known mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • There isn’t enough information on the safety of garcinia use during pregnancy and breastfeeding; avoid use

What else should I know about garcinia?

  • Natural products are not always necessarily safe; exercise caution.
  • Garcinia products are marketed as dietary supplements and do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the FDA. There may sometimes be discrepancy between the labeling and the actual ingredients and their amounts; use with caution.
  • The FDA has banned the use of hydroxycitric acid, the active component of garcinia, in weight loss supplements because of toxicity to the liver. Additionally, the FDA has recommended that specific products containing Garcinia cambogia be avoided as they are contaminated with sibutramine, a weight loss agent associated with liver and cardiovascular toxicity.

Summary

Garcinia is an herbal supplement used for weight loss, to treat joint pain, bloody diarrhea, worm and parasite infections, to increase bowel movements, and to enhance athletic performance. Garcinia may be toxic to the liver; avoid use if you have impaired liver function. Common side effects of garcinia include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, liver injury, liver failure, and exacerbation of mania in bipolar disorder. There isn’t enough information on the safety of garcinia use during pregnancy and breastfeeding; avoid use.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Prevention & Wellness

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Medically Reviewed on 5/10/2022
References
https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_garcinia/drugs-condition.htm

https://reference.medscape.com/drug/garcinia-344533#0

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-818/garcinia

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/garcinia-cambogia-weight-loss

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/garcinia-cambogia

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/hepatotoxicity-due-to-herbal-medications-and-dietary-supplements

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5143754/