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Hoodia or Hoodia or Hoodia Gordonii is a leafless spiny succulent plant with fleshy finger like stems. Hoodia is a genus in the plant family Apocynaceae, under the subfamily Asclepiadoideae. This plant has some rows of thorns present along its stem, bearing flesh colored flowers. Hoodia Gordonii is a protected plant found in plains and rocky area's it grows naturally in the harsh desert conditions of the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa.

For many generations the tribes have used the Hoodia Gordonii plant to suppress appetite and thirst during long hunting trips. Although there are over 20 species in the Hoodia family, only the Hoodia Gordonii plant contains a natural appetite suppressant. Hoodia is also known as "Bushman’s Hat" & "Queen of the Namib". Several species of Hoodia can also be grown as garden plants.

Species of Hoodia:
Some of the important species of Hoodia are alstonii, currorii, dregei, flava, gordonii, juttae, mossamedensis, officinalis, parviflora, pedicellata, pilifera, ruschii (Queen of the Namib) and triebneri.

Hoodia and its medicinal uses:
Hoodia has been long known in Southern Africa, people use these plants for treating indigestion and small infections.

Scientific Researches on Hoodia:
CSIR - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of South Africa isolated the ingredient in Hoodia in 1977, which is now known as P57, responsible for this appetite-suppressant effect and patented it. The CSIR then granted United Kingdom-based Phytopharm a license, and they collaborated with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to isolate active ingredients from the extracts and look into synthesizing them for use as an appetite suppressant.

Various scientific reports have been published in which the extract was injected directly into the brains of rats. No published peer-reviewed double-blind clinical trials have been performed on humans to investigate the safety or effectiveness of Hoodia Gordonii in pill form as a nutritional supplement. The author of the rat study said that the liver easily broke down P57, so it might be hard to take in enough of it to ensure that it had an effect.

Hoodia on Media:
The coverage through media and aggressive marketing of Hoodia has created such a demand for Hoodia plants that a protected status was imposed in several countries like Namibia. There are many products in the market claiming to contain Hoodia but all these products do not actually contain the active ingredient alleged to suppress appetite, only the South African product contains all the claimed properties in them.

Hoodia products:
Of all the diet pills and products, it is found that taking Hoodia to get the correct results is a task that requires the least amount of effort — if the right hoodia diet pills, liquids or gels are used. On the other hand, most weight loss aids and diet pills require greater conscious, more intentional efforts. In other words, calorie charts, scales, diet sheets and good intentions alone are often not adequate tools to lower and maintain body weight over a lifetime. If weight control is to be successful, it must occur over long periods of time and the body must adjust to the new diet requirements and calorie intake. Controlling appetite and metabolism is based on the proper functioning of various systems within the body. These systems rely on ancient principles and biological design and do not work well for long-term weight loss with fad diets. But the new hoodia gordonii products available in the market suppress appetite and increase energy without having any ill side effects.

Marketing of Hoodia:
Due to the lack of scientific evidence and approval have not stopped dietary supplement companies from marketing Hoodia Gordonii extracts with claims that it can lower blood pressure and reduce the appetite. Goen Technologies Corporation's TrimSpa unit began marketing Hoodia Gordonii under the brand name X32 though the Food and Drug Administration has notified Trimspa that it has not demonstrated that the product is safe or effective. The department of health in Canada has not approved any Hoodia products for sale. Goen Technologies has also been sued by the state of New Jersey for misleading consumers. The Trimspa brand is currently the subject of a lawsuit in California, which claims that it does not contain any of Hoodia's active ingredients.

Also during the second quarter of 2006, enormous emails in the form of spam messages were spread across the internet and sent out concerning Hoodia, offering Hoodia extracts for weight loss or weight control purposes. Since all these are spam mails and there had not been any positive media coverage about Hoodia, also there are no signs of increasing public interest in Hoodia. The Federal Trade Commission has logged numerous complaints of consumer fraud associated with Hoodia and the number is expected to continue to rise.

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