Hoodia Gordonii Sampling
Hoodia Gordonii Sampling The Kalihari Cactus
Sampling the Kalahari cactus diet
bushmen have eaten the plant for years
Correspondent's Tom Mangold travelled to Africa and sampled the
appetite suppressing Hoodia, a plant which may make Kalahari bushmen
Imagine this: an organic natural obesity pill that kills the appetite and
It has no
known side-effects, and contains a molecule that fools your brain into believing
you are full.
inside the African Kalahari desert, grows an ugly cactus called the Hoodia. It
thrives in extremely high temperatures, and takes years to mature.
Bushmen of the Kalahari, one of the world's oldest and most primitive tribes,
had been eating the Hoodia for thousands of years, to stave off hunger during
long hunting trips.
African scientists were routinely testing it, they discovered the natural cactus
plant contained a previously unknown molecule, which has since been christened P
license was sold to a Cambridgeshire bio-pharmaceutical company, Phytopharm, who
in turn sold the development and marketing rights to the giant Pfizer
travelled to the Kalahari, I met families of the San bushmen.
It is a
sad, impoverished and displaced tribe, still unaware they are sitting on top of
But if the
p57 Natural Cactus Hoodia works, the 100,000 San strung along the edge of the
Kalahari will become overnight millionaires on royalties negotiated by their
South African lawyer Roger Chennells.
will need all the help they can to secure the money.
many bushmen smoke large quantities of marijuana, suffer from alcoholism, and
have neither possessions nor any sense of the value of money.
is no-one has fully grasped what the magic molecule means for their counterparts
in the developed world.
to the British Heart Foundation 17% of men and 21% of women are obese, while 46%
of men and 32% of women are overweight.
drug's marketing potential speaks for itself.
Phytopharm's Dr Richard Dixey explained how P.57 actually works:
a part of your brain, the hypothalamus. Within that mid-brain there are nerve
cells that sense glucose sugar.
eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, these cells start firing and now
you are full.
natural cactus Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that is about 10,000 times
as active as glucose.
to the mid-brain and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full.
But you have not eaten. Nor do you want to."
organised the first animal trials for Hoodia. Rats, a species that will eat
literally anything, stopped eating completely.
first human clinical trial was conducted, a morbidly obese group of people were
placed in a "phase 1 unit", a place as close to prison as it gets.
volunteers could do all day was read papers, watch television, and eat.
given Hoodia, half placebo. Fifteen days later, the Hoodia group had reduced
their calorie intake by 1000 a day.
It was a
The cactus test
In order to see for
ourselves, we drove into the desert, four hours north of Capetown in search of
Once there, we found an
unattractive plant which sprouts about 10 tentacles, and is the size of a long
Each tentacle is covered in
spikes which need to be carefully peeled.
Inside is a slightly
unpleasant-tasting, fleshy plant.
At about 1800hrs I ate
about half a banana size - and later so did my cameraman.
Soon after, we began the
four hour drive back to Capetown.
The plant is said to have a
feel-good almost aphrodisiac quality, and I have to say, we felt good.
But more significantly, we
did not even think about food. Our brains really were telling us we were full.
It was a magnificent deception.
Dinner time came and went.
We reached our hotel at about midnight and went to bed without food. And the
next day, neither of us wanted nor ate breakfast.
I ate lunch but without
appetite and very little pleasure. Partial then full appetite returned slowly
after 24 hours.
Mr Chennells is ecstatic:
"The San will finally throw
off thousands of years of oppression, poverty, social isolation and
"We will create trust funds
with their Hoodia royalties and the children will join South Africa's middle
classes in our lifetime.
"I envisage Hoodia cafes in
London and New York, salads will be served and the Hoodia cut like cucumber on
to the salad.
"It will need flavouring to
counter its unpleasant taste, but if it has no side effects and no cumulative
Unfortunately for the
overweight, Hoodia will not be around for several years, the clinical trials
still have several years to run.
Do not travel to the
Kalahari to steal the cactus as it is hard to find and illegal to export.