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This article is an extract from my book Griffiths' Sport Supplement Review and is protected by copyright. Permission is given to copy this article on other websites as long as this statement is included with a link back to this site.


Other names
Bushman's hat
Hoodia Gordonii
Hoodia Pilifera

What is it?
Hoodia is a genus of plants containing 13 species belonging to the family Apocynaceae. They are cactus like succulents which grow in South Africa and Namibia. One species, Hoodia Gordonii, is used as a traditional medicine by the indigenous San people of South Africa as an appetite suppressant, thirst quencher and remedy for various minor ailments.

Claimed benefits
Weight loss.

Mode of Action
Two species, Hoodia Gordonii and Hoodia Pilifera, have been found to contain an appetite suppressing compound a pregnane glycoside having the structure 3beta-[beta-d-thevetopyranosyl-(1-4)-beta-d-cymaropyranosyl-(1-4)-beta-d-cymaropyranosyloxy]-12beta-tigloyloxy-14beta-hydroxypregn-5-en-20-one. This compound has been named P57 (1).
In a US patent filed by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) who discovered P57 they state that they believe P57 acts as an agonist of the
melanocortin 4 receptor which regulates neuropeptide Y and also increases cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin delays gastric emptying and neuropeptide Y is a regulator of feeding behaviour (2).


Hoodia has been shown to suppress appetite in rats (1) in research conducted by CSIR.

In 1997 CSIR began collaborating with a British company called Phytopharm plc for the worldwide development of P57. The following year Phytopharm licensed the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to continue developing the compound, however after five years Pfizer discontinued development in 2003 for reasons which are unclear (3).
In 2004 P57 was then licensed to British food and home products giant Unilever plc for use in its Slimfast weight management range. However once again in 2008 Unilever discontinued development of P57 saying it did not meet their safety and efficacy standards (4).

Commonly used dosages
Hoodia can be found in sport supplements in doses ranging from 100mg to 500mg. It can also be purchased as a stand alone product in similar doses.
There is no research available indicating effective doses in humans.

No known safety issues but see the comments made by Unilever (above) who discontinued development of Hoodia in 2008.


None known.
1)Vleggaar R, Senabe JV, Gunning PJ. An appetite suppressant from Hoodia species. Phytochemistry 2007;68(20): 2545-2553  Click here to read study
2)United States Patent & Trademark Office, Patent Full Text & Image Database, United States Patent 6,376,657 [online] at
&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6376657.PN.&OS=PN/6376657&RS=PN/6376657  Click here to view patent
3)Press Release by Phytopharm plc. Pfizer returns rights of P57. [online] at
4)Food and Drink Unilever drops hoodia. [online] at  Click here to view