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The Search For The Miracle Diet Cure Continues


In surfing the Internet about various health topics, you may have run across ads for supplements made from hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant resembling a cactus that grows in southern Africa. Seems those who live in the Kalahari Desert describe it as a natural hunger buster.

So it shouldn't surprise you at all, supplies vanished when Pfizer and British manufacturer Phytopharm teamed up to develop a drug based on P57, a component of hoodia identified as the main ingredient responsible for appetite control. Pfizer gave up early on in the process of developing a drug when early research suggested that P57 would be too difficult to synthesize and could not readily be made into a drug in pill form.

P57 appears to work on the hypothalamus, the center of appetite control to alter energy metabolism in that part of the brain. Because P57 was easily broken down by the liver, however, one Brown scientist who worked with both companies on the study believes it may be difficult for the body to take enough of it to have any effect.

And, just because hoodia -- in its raw unprocessed form -- diminishes the appetites of African desert dwellers who get far more exercise than most people doesn't mean a refined, processed supplement will work any better, or at all. But that's hasn't stopped Phytopharm from inking a deal with Unilever to research how to use P57 in processed foods and drinks. Don't expect to see products on store shelves for three years.

I suspect the results of combining P57 with foods to make them "healthier" will do little if anything to help people lose weight, and could be harmful as toxic drugs like rimonabant (Acomplia).

Fact is, folks, a supplement or pill won't address the underlying causes of a lifestyle condition like obesity. The only effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to follow a diet that fits your body's unique nutritional type and exercise regularly.

New York Times April 19, 2005 Registration Required

Spartanburg Herald-Journal April 19, 2005

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