HCA Garcinia Cambogia - What Is It?

In the 1960's scientists discovered an acid in the sweet, small, pumpkin-shaped tropical fruit, known as the Malabar tamarind. This acid is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and has been said to be effective as a weight loss supplement.

Garcinia cambogia extract (or HCA) might be beneficial for a whole list of reasons, but there are also a lot of side effects that can be experienced when using this product. Here's what you need to know about garcinia cambogia:


Garcinia cambogia extract is well known for its health benefits which include its ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, fight depression, reduce stress, increase metabolism and aid in weight loss. Various parts of the fruit, as well as its extracts, can be used for traditional remedies as well as different flavor profiles.

This dietary supplement can fight depression, regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Various parts of the fruit can be used for a variety of traditional remedies.

What Does It Do?

HCA is known to block an enzyme called citrate lyase (which helps to turn starches and sugars into fat). If that enzyme is blocked, carbohydrates will get diverted into energy production instead of turning into fat. When you burn fat while training, there will be less fat left to replace it and your fat percentage will go down.

It also has the ability to increase the satisfaction you receive from food, which makes it much easier to eat smaller food portions..

HCA blocks citrate lyase (an enzyme which turns sugar and carbohydrates into fat). Instead of carbs getting turned into fat, it will get diverted into energy production.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of HCA Garcinia Cambogia

Combined with organic compounds and other nutrients, HCA may have powerful effects on the body. Excessive consumption, however, has been linked to liver toxicity, so moderation is key.

After claims have been made that this product helps to assist with weight loss, it has become available all over the world. Even though it is still hotly debated whether it really does affect weight loss, garcinia cambogia extract does seem to be beneficial in a variety of ways. Some of the impressive health benefits include:

Woman with Tape Measurement on her Waist
  • Helps to burn fat - As mentioned above, HCA can prevent calories from being stored as fat. Those calories will instead get converted into glycogen which can be used as energy or even for building muscles. This topic is still hotly debated, however, as one study showed that "Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with a placebo." (1).
  • Eliminate fatigue and improve stamina - This will motivate you and help you to lead a healthier lifestyle. Many people experience muscle weakness and fatigue after they have started to lose weight. This formula will help you to combat that feeling by giving you a burst of energy (2).
  • Improves your metabolism - This means that you'll have more immediate energy and less fat that gets stored in the body.
  • Suppress your appetite - If your appetite is suppressed, your body will get trained to only eat specific amounts and at certain times of the day - which will make it much easier to lose weight (3).
  • Reduce stress - HCA also regulates cortisol levels (stress hormone). By controlling anxiety and reducing the number of stress hormones in the body, the functioning and health of all your organ systems will be improved. It will also reduce oxidative stress in the body.
  • It eliminates depression - This product releases serotonin (the pleasure or satisfaction hormone) into the body (4) which might help you to feel encouraged and uplifted.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels - This herb can increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Controls blood sugar levels - Garcinia cambogia extract will ensure that there are fewer spikes and unexpected drops in your blood sugar levels.
  • Reduces the chance of strokes and heart attacks - Additionally, it also giving you more energy and lowered blood pressure (5).
  • Decreases oxidative damage -
  • Components of garcinia cambogia ( HCA, guttiferone K and garcinol) is said to kill colon and lung cancer and block tumor growth (6).
  • Prevents ulcers - By decreasing the acidity of the stomach fluid and activating the stomach's natural defense, garcinia prevents ulcers.
  • Blocks the growth of the following bacteria: Gut infections - Escherichia coli; pneumonia, lung infection - Klebsiellapneumoniae; blood, urinary and lung infections - pseudomonas aeruginosa; food poisoning, airway infections, skin infections - staphylococcus aureus and gut infection - bacillus subtilis.
  • Increases mineral levels (copper, zinc, iron and phosphorus) when taken with a high cholesterol diet.

Read more about the interactions, side effects and uses of Garcinia (7).


Health benefits that may be experienced when taking this formula include fat burning, improved stamina, suppressed appetite, reduced stress, lowered cholesterol levels, controlled blood sugar levels, decreased oxidative damage, increased mineral levels and more.

How To Take It

Woman Holding Pill and Glass of Water

It is really important to maximize HCA's bioavailability in order for it to show results. There are three different forms of HCA - it can be mixed with either magnesium, potassium or calcium salts. These salts are added in order to lessen the amount of free HCA that gets degraded into HCA lactone (an inactive form). These salts also help your body to absorb the hydroxycitrate more easily. It should, therefore, be bound to both potassium and calcium in order to dramatically increase the effectiveness and absorption of HCA.

How you take HCA really does matter. To get the most out of these supplements, the following are recommended:

  • The formula should contain at least 50% HCA and magnesium and potassium should be present. It is even better if the product has a low lactone content.
  • An adequate dose should be taken - 1.5 g three times per day prior to each meal.
  • It should be taken on an empty stomach (around one hour before meals).
  • It appears to be safe to take Garcinia Cambogia for 12 weeks or less (8).

Read more about what Mayo Clinic has to say about over-the counter weight-loss pills (9).


In order to increase the absorption and effectiveness of HCA, it should be mixed with calcium or potassium. How HCA is taken is also very important.

What Are The Side Effects of Garcinia Cambogia?

Remember that herbal remedies that are seen as dietary supplements are regulated as food products in the United States, which means that they are not subjected to the same requirements for efficacy or safety as pharmaceutical products.

It has been implicated that garcinia can cause liver damage when used by itself and when used in combination with other ingredients. Other side effects that have been reported when taking this formula at the recommended doses are generally mild and includes diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth and stomach upset. Find out more about the side effects of garcinia cambogia (10).

Anyone with known medical conditions or with heart disease should consult their doctor before taking this supplement. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should not take this supplement.

Woman consulting doctor about Garcinia

If you have diabetes, it is very important that you should consult with your doctor before taking this supplement, as it can interfere with diabetes control and lower blood sugar levels.

It is positive, however, that this product does not act on the central nervous system, which means that it won't cause anxiety, sleeplessness or affect blood pressure or the heart. Its efficiency will also not decrease with time.


Garcinia can possibly cause liver damage, stomach upset, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness and diarrhea. Anyone with heart disease, known medical conditions and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

HCA Garcinia Cambogia in Combination With Other Supplements

When this supplement is combined with other supplements, the following were noted:

  • When taken with Glucomannan for a six month period, body weight has been decreased by 16%, deep fat by 15% and total fat by 12% (11). Cholesterol levels also decreased by 13%, triglycerides by 15.3% and blood sugar levels by 6%.
  • When taken with Mate and Kidney beans, Guarana, Black Tea, Green Tea and Asparagus, it can decrease fat mass.
  • When taken with seaweed the feelings of satiety and fullness can be increased and feelings of hunger can be reduced.
  • Together with Pear Pomace, this supplement can promote fat burning and weight loss and prevent obesity (12).
  • Combined with apple cider vinegar this formula can be used to lower appetite and reduce food consumption, body fat and body weight.


Many benefits are reported when HCA garcinia cambogia gets used in combination with other supplements, such as decreased body weight, total fat and deep fat as well as decreased cholesterol levels, increased satiety and reduced food consumption.

What You Didn't Know About HCA Garcinia Cambogia

  • The Malabar tamarind fruit is grown in parts of Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia.
  • The tree isn't called garcinia cambogia anymore. Its new proper name is Garcinia gummi-gutta.
  • Red mango, pot tamarind, gambooge, brindal berry and kokum butter oil tree are other names for it.
  • The fruit is usually red, yellow or green and resembles a multi-lobed pumpkin.
  • The size of the fruit is usually between the size of a large tomato and a grapefruit.
  • Your lips will get puckered by the sour flesh of the fruit. It is often used as a condiment or pickled.
  • The blackened fruit (after it has been smoked and sun-dried), called kodampoli, is commonly used in fish curries, as it gives a smoky, tart flavor to curries.
  • The seeds have a 30% fat content and are often used as ghee (clarified butter) which is a popular ingredient in Indian food.
  • Many health claims have been made about garcinia cambogia extract and people, therefore, often use it for constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, cancer and diabetes.
  • Claims have been made that it can boost exercise endurance, reduce appetite and speed up weight loss.
  • It increases the levels of serotonin which can reduce stress-related eating and enhance your mood.
  • Garcinia cambogia can be found in Hydroxycut. There were reports of extreme liver damage in people who used this product. A consumer warning was therefore issued in 2009 by The U.S Food and Drug Administration cautioning consumers to stop using this product immediately.
  • Rhabdomyolysis, cardiovascular disorders and seizures were also associated with this product. Hydroxycut does contain many ingredients, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused these adverse reactions.
  • A study (13) found that rats fed high doses of HCA lost a lot of fat, but it also caused testicular atrophy.
  • Garcinia cambogia is available in liquids, powders, tablets and capsules. It should be taken one hour before a meal, on an empty stomach.
  • Many garcinia cambogia supplements contain ingredients that don't get listed. Make sure to buy from a reputable manufacturer.
  • The recommended dose of HCA is between 900 mg and 1500 mg per day.
  • People with dementia or Alzheimer's disease should not take this dietary supplement as it increases acetylcholine levels in the brain. People who suffer from these diseases are often given medications to lower their acetylcholine levels.


The Malabar tamarind fruit is usually yellow, green or red and is grown in Malaysia, India and Indonesia. Other names used for this fruit is gambooge, brindal berry and red mango. Its size is between that of a tomato and a grapefruit and resembles a multi-lobed pumpkin. The dietary supplement is available in powders, liquids, capsules and tablets and should be taken one hour before a meal, on an empty stomach. Make sure to have a daily dose of between 900 mg and 1500 mg and to buy from a reputable manufacturer.

Brought to you by our expert team at Authority Health.

Juno received an MSc in Dietetics from Robert Gordon University in Scotland and is registered with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). As someone who has learned the value of healthy eating later in life, her passion is teaching younger children about the value of eating well. She offers hands-on, instructional classes to both children and adults to prepare healthy meals. In addition, she consults with local institutions and schools to promote healthy eating and advice on healthy meal preparation.

She has traveled the globe and been privileged to experience a wealth of cuisines, the Mediterranean diet being her favored (and healthiest) option. Juno loves creating in the kitchen and that is where she comes alive. According to Juno, “Food is medicine” and thinks that the adage of “we are what eat” should be the mantra we all should live by. Her big dream one day is to pen a cookbook with recipes from her travels but, for now, she is happy writing on her health and wellness blog.

She is married with 3 beautiful children, 2 Airedale Terriers, 4 cats and a guinea pig. She lives in the countryside of Southern England and loves nothing more than walking on the coast on a blustery day to blow away the cobwebs!