The fruit Garcinia cambogia, known as brindleberry, is native to Asia and used traditionally in Indian and Asian cooking. Several herbal supplements for weight loss and fat burning also include this ingredient or a concentrated amount of its active component, hydroxycitric acid. Consult a qualified health care provider before beginning any herbal therapy.
Brindleberry has a rind rich in hydroxycitric acid, and is the primary source of this substance, according to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, or BIDMC. Hydroxycitric acid is similar to the citric acid found in oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit. Some research supports the use of brindleberry and HCA for weight loss, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The BIDMC cites a placebo-controlled study in which a group of participants taking 440 milligrams of HCA three times daily experienced significant weight loss compared to a group taking a placebo. In contrast, a study published in the Nov. 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found no significant difference in weight loss in participants taking 1500 milligrams of HCA daily or a placebo. The BIDMC notes that both groups were eating a high-fiber diet, and this type of diet may reduce absorption of HCA.
Research has not determined how HCA works for weight loss, according to eMedTV. Laboratory tests show that HCA prevents carbohydrates from being stored as fat, explains the UMMC, and some research with animals indicates HCA suppresses appetite. During a study published in the Oct. 1-15, 2000 issue of "Physiology and Behavior" participants took either 400 milligrams of Garcinia cambogia or a placebo before meals. The group taking brindleberry lost significantly more weight than the placebo group, although brindleberry did not appear to suppress appetite. The BIDMC describes another study that investigated whether HCA changes metabolism, but that was not the case.
No serious side effects are associated with brindleberry extracts or supplements of concentrated HCA, according to the BIDMC. Some people experience headaches, nausea, or stomach or intestinal pain when taking these extracts. The BIDMC cautions that maximum safe dosages are not known, particularly for pregnant or breastfeeding women, young children, or people with severe kidney or liver disease.
Brindleberry supplements are available in liquid extract or dried extract in capsules, tablets and powders. Products may be labeled brindleberry, Garcinia cambogia or HCA, and weight loss products with a combination of herbs including brindleberry also are available. Supplements containing Garcinia cambogia often are standardized to contain a specific percentage of HCA for best results. Typical recommended dosages of HCA are 250 to 1000 milligrams three times daily, according to the BIDMC.