What is Caralluma Fimbriata?
There are any number of herbal remedies making the headlines for their ability to help you lose the pounds. With so many people fighting a constant battle with their weight, it is no wonder that these remedies are becoming so popular.
Estimates suggest that only around 15% of people who try to lose weight through conventional means are actually successful. In order to have a better chance to lose weight, more and more people are turning towards herbal supplements in an effort to get their weight under control.
Caralluma fimbriata, also known as caralluma adscendens, is yet another of those herbal remedies that promises to help you lose weight. It is derived from a cactus type of plant which grows in India, North Africa and the Middle East.
It has been used for many centuries as an appetite suppressant and an energy booster. There is evidence that tribesmen in India used to pack the plant to help sustain them when they went out on a long hunt. These days, commercial companies have latched onto the weight loss potential of the plant and have begun extracting its main ingredients to produce supplements which are marketed as a dieting tool.
Despite its flourishing reputation, if you are thinking of taking a supplement to help you manage your weight, there is not a great deal of evidence that caralluma fimbriata is the answer. This article will take a closer look at some of the claims and the supporting evidence and hopefully help you decide if this supplement is the one for you.
Caralluma Fimbriata for Weight Loss
In the most basic terms possible, it is claimed that caralluma fimbriata helps you to lose weight in the following ways:
- It helps reduce fat storage and encourages fat burning.
- It can suppress the appetite.
- It boosts your energy levels.
Let’s take a closer look at these mechanisms.
It reduces fat storage and stimulates fat burning
While the precise mechanism is not clear, proponents say that Caralluma extract contains phytochemicals which prevent fat cells from forming properly. A phytochemical known as pregnane glycosides is able to block an enzyme responsible for fat production called citrate lyase.
In addition, the components of caralluma also block another enzyme responsible for the production of fat called Malonyl Coenzyme A.
By blocking these two fat producing enzymes, caralluma extract forces the body into using its fat reserves which reduces overall fat storage and encourages the body to burn its reserves of fat leading to weight loss and leaner body mass.
It suppresses the appetite
Like many other supplements, one of the major reasons that proponents claim caralluma fimbriata can help you to lose weight is that it suppresses your appetite. Less cravings means that you are far less likely to overeat. Essentially, you will feel more sated and take on fewer calories leading to a loss of weight in the long term.
Caralluma suppresses the appetite by working on the hypothalamus. We feel the need to eat when our hypothalamus sends a signal to the brain letting it know that it is time to eat. After a snack or a meal, the hypothalamus then sends a further message to tell your brain that you have eaten enough and that it’s time to stop.
Caralluma works by intercepting these signals from the hypothalamus to the brain and disrupting the messages. Basically it tells the brain that you are full even when you have eaten less than normal. And the end result….you eat less, you lose weight…at least that is the theory.
It boosts energy levels
Another way that caralluma fimbriata is said to aid in weight loss is by fighting fatigue and increasing your energy levels. More energy, more exercise, more calories burned but there is more.
When we eat food like carbohydrates, our bodies produce glucose. The glucose is then used to produce a molecule known as adenosine tri-phosphate or ATP. Our body derives its energy from ATP but when we create too much of this molecule, the excess is stored in the form of fat.
This fat is stored until it is needed for energy when it is burned. When you eat less because of the appetite suppressing effects of the caralluma extract, your body will start to burn this stored fat meaning you will lose weight and improve lean muscle mass.
Research on the Weight Loss Effects of Caralluma Fimbriata
While the mechanisms above sound impressive, it is important that we look beyond the marketing claims and see if it is backed up by scientific evidence. As of the time of writing, there have been very few human studies to examine the efficacy of these claims and those which have been done have not proven entirely conclusive.
One pilot study published in 2016 set out to examine the effects of caralluma fimbriata extract on metabolic syndrome in obese or overweight subjects. The double blind trial recruited 43 overweight or obese adults and examined the effects of the caralluma extract over a 12-week period. The subjects were divided into two groups and either given a placebo or a caralluma extract supplement of 500 mg twice daily.
The results were very positive with the subjects given the caralluma extract. Those using Caralluma ended up losing an average of 5.7 cm from their waist compared to the placebo group who lost an average of 2.8 cm.
As well as a reduction in waist size, the subjects given caralluma also lost significantly more weight than the placebo group and the researchers concluded that caralluma fimbriata was a potential treatment for obesity. (1)
However, a more recent study published in 2015 proved far less promising. The study assessed the use of caralluma fimbriata extract in 89 overweight or obese subjects. The subjects were either given a placebo or 500 mg of caralluma extract 2 times a day for 12 weeks.
By the end of the study, the researchers failed to find any significant differences in weight loss differences between the two groups. It was noted however that the extract was well tolerated and they recommended further research. (2)
One possible issue could be the quality of the extract. While the overall “caralluma extract” was the same there could be different amounts of key ingredients like pregnane glycosides.
Other Health Benefits of Caralluma Fimbriata
As well as its potential weight loss benefits, caralluma fimbriata has several other potential benefits for your health.
Inflammation is responsible for the vast majority of major diseases. Caralluma fimbriata extract contains a high level of omega-9 fatty acid which helps reduce inflammation. This in turn can protect you against a variety of diseases including heart disease and arthritis.
Caralluma fimbriata has antioxidant properties which are vital to protect the body from cellular damage. Getting enough antioxidants into your diet from natural sources can help prevent disease, protect your skin and slow down the signs of aging.
As well as its beneficial anti-inflammatory activity, caralluma fimbriata may help reduce cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure. One of the weight loss studies found lower systolic Blood Pressure levels and lower triglyceride levels.
Caralluma Fimbriata Side effects
The clinical studies to date have shown that caralluma fimbriata is generally well tolerated with no adverse effects in doses up to a gram a day for 12 weeks. However, two subjects reported some mild side effects like bloating and acidity.
The plant has been used for many centuries in India without any reported adverse effects and Indian researchers have found that even when taken in in higher doses, there are no severe adverse effects. Unlike caffeine and ephedrine based supplements—there is no known stimulant effects of caralluma fimbriata.
There have been no studies to evaluate its effects on pregnant women or nursing mothers and for the sake of caution, it should be avoided.