A recent study of more than 100 overweight or obese individuals found that Irvingia gabonensis facilitates weight loss and lowers cholesterol. This study is the latest of several that have shown that this West African plant promotes loss of body weight, but it is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to show that it lowers weight and cholesterol.
Irvingia gabonensis is a deciduous tree that grows in West and Central Africa. The tree produces edible yellow fruit and seeds whose extract is used for various medicinal purposes, including weight loss, high cholesterol, and elevated blood glucose.
The study consisted of 102 overweight or obese individuals who were otherwise healthy and who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received 150 mg of a seed extract of Irvingia gabonensis and the other group received a placebo, 30 to 60 minutes before lunch and dinner daily for ten weeks. All the participants were evaluated for weight loss, fasting lipids, blood glucose, and several other parameters at baseline, 4, 8, and 10 weeks of the study.
At the end of the study, the investigators found that the treated group had significant improvement in body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, as well as levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, blood glucose, C-reactive protein (an indicator for risk of heart disease), adiponectin (a hormone involved in metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity), and leptin (a hormone that turns off appetite).
Researchers believe Irvingia gabonensis promotes weight loss in several ways. One is by increasing the levels of adiponectin; another is through inhibition of an enzyme called amylase, which reduces the amount of starches the body will absorb as sugar. Irvingia gabonensis also inhibits glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, which helps block the amount of blood sugar that the body converts to fat.
Given the results of this latest study, as well as previous ones, researchers are hopeful Irvingia gabonensis will prove useful in managing and treating obesity, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and conditions related to them.
Sources: Ngondi JL et al. Lipids Health Dis 2009 Mar 2; 8:7.
Ngondi JL et al. Lipids Health Dis 2005 May 25;4:12.
Oben JE, Blum K. Lipids Health Dis 2008 Mar 31; 7:12.
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