The Dangers Of Garcinia Cambogia Extract Diet Pills: What You Need To Know

Don't get tricked by this popular diet scam.

K. Aleisha Fetters and Korin Miller |

If you’ve researched quick diet methods, you’ve probably come across garcinia cambogia extract diet pills at some point.

But here’s why you should steer clear: Time and time again, garcinia cambogia extract diet pills have been linked to severe, sometimes fatal side effects.

Most recently, in 2017, the Food and Drug Administration warned people that Fruta Planta Life, a weight-loss supplement featuring garcinia cambogia extract, also contains sibutramine, a.k.a. Meridia, an appetite suppressant that was removed from the market in 2010 due to safety concerns. Sibutramine had been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, cause jaundice, and trigger seizures. Yikes.

So what is garcinia cambogia extract—and does it offer any weight-loss benefits at all? Garcinia cambogia is more commonly known as tamarind, a tropical fruit grown in Indonesia, which on its own is pretty darn delicious and healthy. It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. All good things, right?

Watch: What Exactly… Is Garcinia Cambogia And Does It Work?

Tamarind rind also contains a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which proponents claim decreases appetite and prevents your body from storing food as fat. But while one 2015  shows that garcinia cambogia extract may help suppress a person’s appetite, it’s anything but a definitive link. “Most brands of garcinia cambogia extract diet pills, including big names, have failed independent laboratory quality and quantity testing,” says medical weight-loss expert Dr. Sue Decotiis. “Also, there have been no large-scale trials comparing garcinia to placeboes or other supplements. There probably will never be any objective data on garcinia.”

Plus, since garcinia cambogia extract diet pills are supplements, not drugs, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate their use or review their effectiveness or safety unless their use becomes linked to multiple hospitalisations, says Decotiis. That means that it’s up to manufacturers to decide how much garcinia cambogia extract their pills pack, as well as what other health-impacting ingredients (like sibutramine) are added to the mix.

In the case of the 2017 warning, the FDA said it discovered the presence of sibutramine during an examination of international mail shipments. They warned that sibutramine can substantially increase a person’s blood pressure and heart rate and may interact with other medications in “life-threatening ways.” When the FDA first asked pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories to withdraw Meridia, a.k.a sibutramine, from the market in 2010, they noted that clinical trials showed the drug put people at an increased risk for cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or stroke. Scary, much?

There are plenty of other reasons to avoid garcinia cambogia extract diet pills, too. One study published in the journal  in 2015 links garcinia cambogia extract to negative health effects like diarrhoea, brain fog, and liver damage. While research hasn’t definitively concluded that the extract actually caused those health problems, there’s certainly is a link. Meanwhile, a 2005 study in  found that high doses of garcinia cambogia extract caused testicular atrophy and toxicity in mice. Even if you don’t have testicles, that’s sure to make you cringe.

By the way: A while ago, an internet scam illegally used the Women’s Health brand likeness and copyrighted materials (and the likeness and materials of other respected health brands) to promote garcinia cambogia extract pills. We wrote about the scam at length here, in addition to how to identify if you’ve been scammed.

Our advice? Don’t risk it when it comes to diet supplements. Ditch the fads and check out these five easy ways to lose weight fast—no pills required.

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