[Sciences] Dr. Oz miracle weight-loss “Pixie Dust pill”: Garcinia cambodgia. It may hurt you more than you would expect

DrOzGarcinia

UPDATE: Some interesting read on Vox today, Wikileaks leaked emails exchange between Dr. Oz and Sony execs, especially about the recents critics on him as being a snake-oil seller: http://www.vox.com/2015/4/20/8455401/sony-wikileaks-dr-oz

By now everyone have heard the firestorm ongoing on Dr. Oz, this was already started few months ago when Dr. Oz had to testify in front of a Senate committee about his bogus claim. It even raised more firestorm that a group of physicians have publicly asked Columbia University to dismiss Dr. Oz from their institution.

There are several occasions in which Dr. Oz have been cherry-picking the information in various medical and non-medical issues in front of his audience, this I cannot talk as an expert. But what I can talk is about the Pharmacology and the exercise that Dr. Oz has been working on for a few years as what I would refer “snake-oil seller practice”, by having his name apposed to various dietary supplements. This is a conflict of interest and in the time of Big Pharma, Big Healthcare shills, it is important to remind when there is an obvious conflict of interest. There is a clear bias and severely decrease the objectivity of your claims.

Especially for one miracle pill that would slim your weight. Its name is Garcinia cambogia. 
Here becomes the trouble. Garcinia is not a single molecule, it is a plant extract, it is a cocktail of different compounds derived from the plant secondary metabolism. They are not essential for the plant survival but usually act as poisons to repel potent predators and pathogens.
If you enter the field of pharmacognosy (the field that studies and isolate plant extracts to see the potent bioactivity), you will quickly have a problem to identify which active ingredient is driving the desired effect in case. Furthermore, we all know that medicines may have side-effects (as a drug never has a specificity to its target and can have off-target effects) and may have serious drug-drug interactions.
To better sort the good from the bad science, it is important to read the scientific consensus and publications. The classical portal for biomedical research peer-reviewed publications database is Pubmed: Garcinia Cambodgia

With the keywords “Garcinia cambogia”, I have obtained 106 results and I have based my quick analysis based on the impact factor (mean+/-standard deviation). Impact factor is a metric based on how many times a paper is cited from a journal. The more the journal harbors citation per article, the higher the impact factor is. The more stringent the peer-review process is (in general with some exceptions).

On a review of 5 years publications (with identified impact factor), the average IF with positive conclusions have a average IF=1.87+/-1.06 compared to those with no or detrimental effect on health IF=3.09+/-0.41. It tells us something, the possible scientific evidence of Garcinia is weak and supported by studies from very small journals. Most of them have no clinical meta-analysis and are mostly obtained from pre-clinical data. However, the studies showing deleterious effects came from journal with higher impact factors and come from documented cases of acute toxicity including liver inflammation and serotonin toxicity. It would be unfair to attribute to Garcinia alone but it raises the grey area of diet supplements that have been authorized for sell as over-the-counter without having the Food & Drug Administration assessing the safety of such supplements. Based on the recent development of these supplements tainted with scheduled medications (for instance Lipozene tainted with fluoxetine (an SSRI also known as Prozac: http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm392761.htm)
At best, these supplements will not have their supposed effects, at worst they can have very serious side effects on your body (including risk of liver failure, heart failure and kidney failure).
Selling “snake oil” as miracle elixir is as old as humanity and modern snake-oil sellers have muted to add a layer of “alternative medicine” and other fallacious artifice to make profits. When a board certified physician use his charisma and his credentials to sponsor such compounds that have yet to go through the same scrutiny tests that any drug candidate have to go through, this is not only fallacious practice, this is a dangerous medical practice as non-scientifically literate population will put themselves at risk with supplements by taking the information of Dr. Oz as genuine and scientifically proven whereas they are not. These supplements have no established safety controls and that can experience severe conditions.
Miracle weight-loss pills do not exist and may never exist. You are better off ditching off the processed foods as your daily diet, increase your amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Reduce, replace or refine your intake of carbs and fats and most of all be active. Have regular physical checkup and sweat at the gym. Workout sucks but until our bodies evolve from a hunter-gatherer to a couch-potato metabolism, it will be the only way to keep ourselves healthy. I hate working out but if I stop I will just inflate. The good thing is makes you healthier, improve your cardiovascular fitness and release a good dose of endorphins after workout :). Learn your body and accept yourself, plan your calorie intake as you would manage your finances.

 

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