hoodia gordonii

© Nico Laubscher CITES Photo Gallery



This fact sheet provides basic information about the herb hoodia—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Hoodia is a flowering, cactus-like plant native to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Its harvest is protected by conservation laws.

Common Names—hoodia, Kalahari cactus, Xhoba
Latin Names—Hoodia gordonii


What It Is Used For

  • Kalahari Bushmen have traditionally eaten hoodia stems to reduce their hunger and thirst during long hunts.
  • Today, hoodia is marketed as an appetite suppressant for weight loss.


How It Is Used

  • Dried extracts of hoodia stems and roots are used to make capsules, powders, and chewable tablets. Hoodia can also be used in liquid extracts and teas.
  • Hoodia products often contain other herbs or minerals, such as green tea or chromium picolinate.


What the Science Says

There is no reliable scientific evidence to support hoodia's use. No studies of the herb in people have been published.


Side Effects and Cautions

  • Hoodia's safety is unknown. Its potential risks, side effects, and interactions with medicines and other supplements have not been studied.
  • The quality of hoodia products varies widely. News reports suggest that some products sold as hoodia do not contain any hoodia.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.



  • Hoodia. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on May 16, 2007.
  • Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on May 16, 2007.


For More Information




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