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An alternative to Hoodia

Hoodia schmoodia

Q: I know I should be careful taking supplements to boost weight loss, but I feel like I need all the help I can get. Is there anything out there that’s safe–and that actually works?

Dr: Wright: I’m going to hand this one off to my colleague Kerry Bone, an expert in herbs:

“The popular weight loss supplement, Hoodia gordonii, has enough strikes against it to make me want to look elsewhere for an alternative weight-loss solution.

You don’t have to go very far to find one. Several high quality clinical trials have shown that an herb called Coleus forskohlii is an effective support for losing weight–especially body fat. Although it’s not as well known as Hoodia, Coleus stacks up well against it for a number of practical reasons.

By far, the most compelling argument for the use of Coleus as a supplement to support weight loss is the clinical evidence. Although no controlled clinical trials on Hoodia have ever been published, Coleus has three randomized controlled clinical trials that support its value for reducing body fat (the most important health aspect of weight loss).

In one randomized, double-blind trial, overweight female volunteers took either Coleus extract (50 mg/day of forskolin) or a placebo for 12 weeks. Although there was no difference in food intake, the Coleus group lost an average of 1.5 lbs, while the placebo group gained an average of 2.2 lbs.

A similar trial conducted in India with obese men and women also saw a significant difference in body weight between the groups. The patients who took Coleus lost an average of 4 percent of total body weight (3.8 lbs), compared to a gain of 0.3 percent (0.55 lbs) in the placebo group. The effect on body fat and lean body mass was also statistically significant. The loss of body fat in the Coleus-treated group was replaced with lean body mass, while those taking the placebo gained body fat and experienced a decrease in lean body mass.

Finally, in a double blind clinical trial conducted in the U.S., 30 overweight/obese male volunteers were randomized to receive Coleus extract (containing 50 mg/day of forskolin) or a placebo for a period of 12 weeks. Those who took Coleus had a significant decrease in fat mass and body fat. The reduction in fat mass from baseline to after treatment with Coleus was an incredible 9.9 lbs.

This is truly good evidence and shows that the best aspect of Coleus is the loss of body fat–which translates to loss of inches. And I’m sure it goes without saying that when you reduce your body fat, you also reduce your risk of developing a whole host of diseases–including insulin resistance, which can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes.

If you decide to try Coleus, make sure the product contains the extract used in the clinical trials (Forslean®) and delivers a dose of at least 50 mg of forskolin per day.”