Hoodia Gets Dirty

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Just when you thought a great new weight loss product was available, the marketing boys step in and ruin it. Hoodia gets dirty.

What is promised to be a great treatment for one of the western world’s fastest growing diseases, obesity, is also turning in to a marketing catfight.

For the uninitiated, Hoodia Gordonii was identified by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the 1960’s as a potential appetite suppressant.

Used for generations by Kalahari Bushmen for generations as a way of defeating hunger on long and arduous hunting trips, the CSIR worked with a UK company Phytopharm to identify the active ingredient in Hoodia. This they did, and Phytopharm named this ‘miracle molecule’ P57 (it was their 57th ‘discovery).

With Unilever now in partnership with Phytopharm to commercialise Hoodia, it promises to be a great support in the battle to stick to a healthy eating plan.

Now although P57 is patented, the plant itself can not be, which has led to a deluge of manufacturers of natural herbal supplements all producing Hoodia products, and causing a mass market confusion in it’s wake.

One of the worst examples of this is the growing number of so called ‘Hoodia consumer websites’. The emphasis should be on ‘con’ in consumer, as these are mostly run by Hoodia manufacturers themselves, hidden under different identities.

They claim to compare different brands under carefully selected criteria, with their brand of course at the number one position.

With new comparison sites coming out every few weeks, the best advice is simply to discount them, and then make your own mind up about whether you can trust the brand.

Another tactic that is confusing the consumer is the supposed differences in the quality of other brands. The most common is to do with the term ‘extract’. Some companies claim that they sell an extract which is more powerful than non-extract products. (What is an extract? An extract is a concentrated from of a herb, that is derived after the crude herb has been mixed with water, alcohol, or another solvent and distilled or evaporated.).

No one is selling Hoodia Gordonii extract, as it would be violating the patent held by CSIR (which has been leased to Phytopharm, who in turn have leased it to Unilever). Any company claiming to sell a Hoodia extract had better watch their step – apart from misleading consumers, Phytopharm and Unilever are unlikely to ignore such blatant patent theft.

Another common deceit is to claim to be 100% Hoodia while selling at what seems a really great low price. How can they do it? Simple – they’re telling the truth. They’re using the whole of the plant, rather than the ‘heart’ of the plant which contains the active ingredient. As the ‘skin’ of the Hoodia can account for as much as 40% of the weight, your 100% pure may only be 60% pure and not quite the bargain that you imagined.

All the ‘Hoodia wars’ seem to be doing is confusing potential customers, who become less able to take an informed decision about which product is best for them.

Here are 4 questions that anyone wanting to buy Hoodia should ask, before parting with any money:

1.    Is this genuine Hoodia Gordonii from the Kalahari region of Southern Africa? (Hoodia is now being grown in China, Texas and elsewhere, and there is evidence that the Kalahari soil contributes to the effectiveness of the plant)

2.    What part of the plant is used? (Remember, it’s only the core of the plant that has been identified as having the active ingredient).

3.    Is it an extract or powder? (The right answer is powder).

4.    Is it Hoodia GORDONII? (There are many different types of plants in the Hoodia family – it is the Hoodia Gordonii that has been shown to be the appetite suppressant).

And remember:

•    If the price is low, likely the quality of the product will be.

•    If it’s number one on some consumer comparison chart, what else are they ‘fixing’?

•    If they’re vague about their product and simply bombard you with hype – it’s likely the product can’t stand up on it’s own merit.

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Vic Carrara
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