Hoodia is a genus in the plant family Apocynaceae, in the part of the family previously treated as a separate family Asclepiadaceae. They are stem succulents that can reach up to 1 m high and present exuberant flowers, often with flesh colour and strong smell.
Hoodias are protected plants, typical of the Namib Desert, ranging from Central Namibia to southern Angola, especially in plains and rocky areas. Common names include “Bushmans Hat” and “Queen of the Namib”.
The medicinal use of Hoodia is long known by the indigenous populations of Southern Africa, who use these plants for treating indigestion and small infections. Recently the pharmaceutical companies discovered that Hoodia extracts can be used to lower blood pressure and reduce the appetite.
This breakthrough research lead to such a demand for Hoodia plants, that a protected status was imposed in several countries like Namibia.
The native Bushmans name for this plant is Xshoba.
Hoodias are also grown as garden plants.
The Hoodia Plant
The cactus-like Hoodia Gordonii plant is native to the Kalahari desert region of Southern Africa.
Hoodia is a member of the Asclepiadoideae sub-family of the Apocynaceae family which is a genus of succulents plants that are related to cacti.
Succulents are plants that store water in their engorged fleshy roots, stems and leaves. a majority of Parenchyma tissue contributes to this storage of water which enables them to grow in harsh, dry environments.
There are 13 species of Hoodia, twelve of which are native to Southern Africa. The plant is seen as a small clump of upright stems having a palish green color. Hoodia are extremely difficult to grow and require a lot of attention and precise regulation of temperature, sunlight and water.
The various Hoodia species occur in rainfall areas in Namibia, Botswana, Angola, and other areas of Southern Africa. Although the genus Hoodia is somewhat common in Southern Africa, Hoodia Gordonii usually only occurs in South Africa and Namibia.
The San People
The hunter-gatherer San speaking tribal people of the Kalahari desert have long known about the appetite suppressing capabilities of the Hoodia Gordoni plant, and have used the stem to ward off the great hunger they would feel during hunting excursions across the desert.
It is widely held that these indigenous people have used the plant for over tweny five thousand years.
Andries Steenkamp, a spokesman for the indigenous San people spoke in an interview with ABC news: “I learned how to eat it from my forefathers. It is my food, my water and also a medicine for me. Steenkamp also spoke about the uses for the plant: “We San use the plant during hunting to fight off the pain of hunger and thirst.”
The discovery of Hoodia
It was not until the mid 1970s that commercial and scientific interest appeared for using Hoodia Gordonii cactus extract as an appetite suppressant.
Over the next thirty years, South Africa’s National Laboratory worked on isolating and identifying the active compound in Hoodia Gordonii that was responible for the appetite suppressant effects.
Scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Southern Africa applied for a patent in 1997 and in turn licensed the development and commercialization to a biotech firm in the United Kingdom, Phytopharm research. ( for more on the scientific study of Hoodia and information about its active compound ‘P57’, see our scientific research page here.
Since licensing the research to Phytopharm, who then in turn sold the licensing to Pzfizer, millions of dollars in research and multiple scientific studies have taken place confirming that the active compound in Hoodia Gordonii is extremely effective at relieving hunger.
This research solidifies the hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence regarding the unique qualities of the Hoodia plant.
The active compound that is responsible for the effects of Hoodia Gordonii on appetite has been named “P57” by the pharmaceutical companies.
The molecule has a direct action on an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which regulates many functions of the body, including that of hunger and appetite. When you eat, the rise in your blood sugar is detected by this part of the brain, which then determines that you have eaten and in response release hormones that give the feeling of being “full”.
The Hoodia compound mimics the sugar glucose, so when taken as a supplement, your brain detects what it thinks is a rise in blood glucose and sends these same hormones, in effect tricking your body into thinking it has already eaten.
Hoodia Gordonii taken regularly as a diet supplement provides:
* a reduced interest in eating
* the ability to feel “full” much quicker than before
* a much greater period between meals
Hoodia does not cause the common side effects of most diet supplements, including the “stimulant effect”, which can consist
of nausea, jitteriness, and headache.
Hoodia Gordonii FACTS:
Hoodia is 100% All Natural
Caffeine, Ephedra and Stimulant FREE
Most effective known plant to drastically reduce appetite
No known side effects
Helps you lose weight naturally
Multiple scientific studies prove effectivness
– Enjoy information on the Hoodia plant. Explore the specialities of Hoodia.