Planta Med 2011; 77(11): 1149-1160
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1250643
Lectures GA Conference
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Hoodia gordonii: An Up-to-Date Review of a Commercially Important Anti-Obesity Plant

Ilze Vermaak1 , Josias H. Hamman1 , Alvaro M. Viljoen1
  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Further Information

Publication History

received Sep. 28, 2010 revised Nov. 25, 2010

accepted Nov. 27, 2010

Publication Date:
21 January 2011 (online)


Hoodia gordonii is a spiny succulent plant popularly consumed for its purported anti-obesity effect. Traditionally used by the Khoi-San of South Africa and Namibia as a hunger and thirst suppressant while on long hunting trips, the commercialisation of this plant has been highly controversial due to intellectual property rights and benefit sharing issues, as well as the fact that several prominent pharmaceutical companies involved in its development have withdrawn their interest. Quality control has been the main focus of scientific studies as the supply of H. gordonii plant material is limited due to its sparse geographical distribution, slow maturation rate, need for a permit to cultivate or export material as well as high public demand, contributing to adulteration of a large amount of products. Despite the isolation of numerous steroidal glycosides from H. gordonii, the main focus has been on the pregnane glycoside P57, considered to be the active ingredient and marker molecule to determine quality of raw material and products. Publications based on scientific studies of key aspects such as in vivo biopharmaceutics, the biological activity of all chemical constituents, clinical efficacy, and especially safety are insufficient or completely absent causing great concern as H. gordonii is one of the most widely consumed anti-obesity products of natural origin. This review offers an up-to-date overview of all the current available knowledge pertaining to H. gordonii achieved by systematic analysis of the available literature.


Alvaro M. Viljoen

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology

Private Bag X680

Pretoria 0001

South Africa

Phone: +27 1 23 82 63 60

Fax: +27 1 23 82 62 43

Email: [email protected]