Garcinia cambogia is primarily studied as a weight-loss aid, but if you are diabetic it may be of interest because it appears to improve glucose metabolism. The aim of diabetes treatment is to control blood-glucose levels in your body. Any benefit to diabetics is still theoretical, however, and more study on effectiveness and possible adverse reactions in people is needed. Always consult a doctor before trying a new supplement, especially if you have a health condition or take medication.
Garcinia cambogia, also referred to as hydroxycitric acid, may improve glucose metabolism by delaying and reducing intestinal glucose absorption after meals. This herb improves glucose metabolism -- studies have shown insulin levels in mice who received Garcinia cambogia were lower than in those that received a placebo.
Garcinia cambogia also may help because of its possible leptin-like activity, notes K. Hayamizu, lead author for the “Fitoterapia” study. Leptin potentially helps by decreasing hunger and thus food consumption. Leptin, a protein hormone, also aids weight loss by increasing your body’s energy expenditure. In contrast to dieting, which can lead to loss of both lean and fat mass, leptin promotes fat lipolysis but does not have an apparent effect on lean tissue. While Hayamizu's findings merit interest, further investigation is needed. The mechanisms by which leptin affects metabolism are complex and largely unknown. Leptin blood concentrations are usually increased in obese people. This suggests that such individuals are in some way insensitive to leptin as opposed to having a leptin deficiency. Hayamizu noted that mice taking Garcinia cambogia had lowered blood levels of leptin, leading to speculation that the supplement may improve the body’s ability to use this hormone.
Garcinia cambogia’s potential as a weight-loss aid is of interest if you are diabetic. Weight loss can help lower your blood-glucose levels and blood pressure and improve your blood-fat levels if they are not in the healthy range. The herb may help you lose weight by discouraging fat formation, increase fat oxidation and reducing food intake. However, trials supporting use of Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss aid were limited. Studies as of 2011 also produced mixed results.
If you are diabetic and take insulin or other medication for your condition, be careful about taking Garcinia cambogia because it could result in blood-sugar levels that fall too low. If you use Garcinia cambogia, you may experience other side effects. These include dry mouth, headache, gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and nausea, and dizziness. Also, while toxicology studies on animals given very high doses of Garcinia cambogia resulted in no toxicity or death, cases of severe or even fatal liver damage are documented among people taking combination weight-loss supplements that contain Garcinia cambogia. This herb also has possible interactions with pain medications, medicine for psychiatric conditions, statins, blood thinners and asthma and allergy medicines. Always consult a doctor before taking a new supplement, and provide a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take and any other supplements you take.
- Colorado State University: Leptin
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Garcinia Cambogia (HydroxyCitric Acid) as a Potential Antiobesity Agent -- A Randomized Controlled Trial
- American Journal of Physiology: Hydroxycitric Acid Delays Intestinal Glucose Absorption in Rats
- Fitoterapia: Effect of Garcinia Cambogia Extract on Serum Leptin and Insulin in Mice
- Drugs.com: Garcinia (Hydroxycitric Acid)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Obesity