OBESITY IS A MODERN DISEASE. But nature created a natural medication for
curing this disease, millions of years ago. The name of this is natural medication
is Hoodia. How is Hoodia effective in obesity? When was the anti-obesity element first
isolated? Who isolated the extract? At present, who has the license for manufacture
of Hoodia? We will attempt to answer these questions in this article.
Hoodia is a
cactus-like plant that grows in the great Kalahari Desert of South Africa. San Bushmen, the
South Africa tribal people, used chewed the leaves of this plant to suppress their hunger
from time immemorial. Many appetite suppressants and anti-obesity drugs, though
effective, are usually associated with side effects. But Hoodia has both qualities of
a perfect medicine- efficiency and lack of side effects. The South African council
for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1977 extracted the appetite suppressant
ingredient in Hoodia now known as P-57. The CSIR then approved a license to United Kingdom –
based Phytopharm. Phytopharm, in the year 1995, obtained the license to develop an appetite
suppressant from the Hoodia plant. Rigorous research work was done to develop a highly effectual
medication which will fit in the form of Hoodia diet pills, Hoodia capsules and Hoodia
health drinks. Initially Phytopharm pooled resources with the
pharmaceutical company Pfizer to segregate active constituents from the extract and
for preparing an effective anti-obesity drug. Pfizer returned the marketing rights
to Phytopharm in 2002, as they were unable to develop a p-57 molecule synthetically and
economically. At present Unilever has joined hands with Phytopharm to market Hoodia
diet pills as diet supplements in their diet food product line.
As Hoodia Gordonii
is in such as a high demand, it is considered a protected plant and it can be exported only
with a special permit from the government of South Africa – a CITES permit. There
are three laboratory tests available to test the quality of extract in the drug available.
They are: (1. Microscopy: In this test, the sample of Hoodia is examined under a microscope
(usually at 400x magnification). Pure Hoodia Gordonii would appear to have long fibers
with whirled striations, so this helps in checking the purity of the sample. (2. High
Performance Thin layer Chromatography (HPTLC). (3. High Performance Liquid Chromatography
(HPLC). These laboratory tests help in testing the purity of Hoodia sample.
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