If you’re trying to lose weight or simply interested in supplements that can help you live a healthier life, you may have come across references to “Garcinia.” Promoted as an aid to weight loss, digestion and as a serotonin-boosting preparation, “Garcinia” is sold in many different forms, from capsules and tablets to powders that you can mix with water or juice for a refreshing drink. Before buying “Garcinia” supplements, you need to know which of a variety of herbs with a similar name you’re purchasing.
While “Garcinia” can refer to several species, there are three principle herbs that are often sold under that name. These are Garcinia indica or kokum fruit; Garcinia mangostana or purple mangosteen; and Garcinia cambogia or gambooge. All three are used for various culinary purposes and all are native to Asia and parts of Africa. All contain HCA (or hydroxycitric acid, to give it its full name).
HCA is touted as a “fat burner” and appetite suppressant, among other positive effects.
Garcinia indica, the kokum fruit, is small and green when unripe but matures into a deep purple fruit when it’s ready to harvest. The thick outer rind is very rich in HCA, giving it a tart, tangy flavor. Kokum generally refers to the dried form of Garcinia indica fruit. When thoroughly dried, kokum lasts for a long time and can be used in a number of different ways.
Garcinia mangostana is better known as the purple mangosteen. While it looks somewhat similar to the kokum fruit when fresh, it’s used differently. The rind is normally discarded as inedible; it’s the white flesh inside that’s consumed. Instead of being dried and processed, the flesh of the mangosteen can be enjoyed like any fresh fruit. It too contains HCA, which contributes to the refreshingly tart flavor of the mangosteen.
Garcinia cambogia is variously known as the brindleberry, kudam puli or gambooge fruit. It’s prepared and used in a similar way to Garcinia indica, being dried out and used to add a sweet-sour note to curries.
The rind is sometimes powdered or grated; in other cases, the food is cooked with a piece of dried gambooge which is removed once the flavor and active ingredients have infused the dish. When Garcinia cambogia is used as a supplement, an extract is typically prepared from the dried and powdered rind. This is then mixed with stabilizers and compressed into tablet form or placed into capsule shells.
Garcinia cambogia is now one of the best-known members of the Garcinia family thanks to its promotion as a weight-loss aid. Featured on various TV shows — most notably “The Dr. Oz Show,” where it was celebrated as one of the newest and fastest “fat busters” available — Garcinia cambogia has become the center of fierce controversy over its claimed anti-obesity properties. Some point to a general lack of peer-reviewed Find Out More scientific evidence, while others note that Garcinia cambogia has a long history in traditional Indian medicine as an aid to proper digestion and as an ingredient that makes food more filling.