Garcinia cambogia is an herb included in several supplements for weight loss and fat burning. Derived from the rind of the gamboge fruit, which is native to Asia, Garcinia cambogia extract also is used to lower high cholesterol. The active ingredient, which might have benefits for weight loss, is hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Garcinia cambogia extract is generally safe and side effects are rare.
High-Dose Side Effects
Excessive consumption of Garcinia cambogia extract can cause gastrointestinal side effects, according to EMedTV and Green Herbal Remedies. People taking large amounts of this herb might experience stomach or intestinal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Headaches are another possible side effect.
Blood Sugar Effects
Hydroxycitric acid, the active ingredient in Garcinia cambogia extract, can lower blood sugar levels. People with diabetes might need to monitor their blood sugar more closely when taking this herb, as noted by eMedTV. Diabetic patients taking medications such as metformin or insulin to control blood sugar levels might need to have their health care provider adjust the dosage.
Some people will experience an allergic reaction to Garcinia cambogia. Signs of an allergic reaction, according to the Physicians' Desktop Reference and eMedTV, include itching, skin rash, hives, mouth or throat tingling, chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the hands, face or throat. An allergic reaction to Garcinia cambogia should be considered a medical emergency.
Extremely high doses of Garcinia cambogia, when fed to obese male rats, resulted not only in suppression of fat accumulation but also in testicular shrinkage, according to a study published in the March 2005 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology. Diets with lower amounts of Garcinia cambogia did not produce this side effect, although the amounts of HCA were still high. No negative effects were seen when rats were fed 389mg per kilogram of body weight per day, translating to more than 26,000mg per day for an individual weighing about 150 lbs. In contrast, the standard dosage of HCA is 250 to 1000mg per day for adults, as noted by Holistic Herbalist.