Garcinia cambogia is most often used as an appetite suppressant and weight-loss supplement, explains Authority Nutrition. Its use to increase exercise endurance and treat parasites and worms has also been investigated, notes WebMD. However, there is insufficient evidence as of 2014 that it works for these uses in humans.
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Garcinia cambogia in blocking a fat-producing enzyme in rats, resulting in significant weight loss, notes Authority Nutrition. However, Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition warns that randomized trials involving human subjects do not produce such promising results. A 1998 study published in The Journal of The American Medical Association involved 135 individuals divided into a treatment and a placebo group. At the end of the study, those who took Garcinia cambogia actually lost fewer pounds than those in the placebo group. Later studies showed either no effect on weight or a small or inconsistent effect, suggesting that Garcinia cambogia is not a particularly effective weight-loss method, according to Gunnars.
WebMD describes it as being potentially safe for use with no known long-term side effects. However, it is known to cause nausea, digestive tract discomfort and headaches. Because few studies have been done on the plant, it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Garcinia cambogia extract comes from the Garcinia cambogia plant, which is also called the Garcinia gummi-gutta plant, explains Authority Nutrition. The plant grows small fruits that have skin containing hydroxycitric acid, which is the ingredient claimed to produce weight-loss effects.