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What are the Medical Uses of Caralluma Fimbriata?

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  • Written By: Deborah Walker
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2016
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Caralluma fimbriata is a succulent plant in the Apocynaceae, or cactus, family. It grows wild in India, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. For hundreds of years, this species of cactus has been used as an appetite suppressant, stamina enhancer, food, and thirst quencher. Research studies have shown that Caralluma fimbriata may be an effective diet aid. Mild side effects may occur, but usually go away after several days.

This cactus species is also known as wild succulent cactus, ranshabar, shindala makadi, karallamu, and Caralluma cactus. From summer through fall, it produces unpleasantly-scented, star-shaped blooms in black, red, purple or yellow. Traditionally, tribes in India used Caralluma fimbriata when on an extended hunt. It is said that the plant quenched thirst, gave the hunters stamina, and kept them from becoming hungry. Today, the main use of this cactus is as an appetite suppressant and weight loss aid.

Researchers hypothesize that the chemical constituents of Caralluma fimbriata act on the hunger and appetite control center of the brain. The cactus may also block enzymes, which in turn block fat formation. The body is then forced to use stored fat as energy. One small, 60-day study showed that Caralluma fimbriata may decrease waist size, hunger, and the intake of fat and calories. Even so, there is no large-scale clinical research that clearly demonstrates this plant's effectiveness in lowering body mass index or weight.

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This weight loss aid is available in capsule or pill form. Powdered Caralluma fimbriata may also available. The supplement may be purchased at health food stores and from online vendors. According to the dosage directions on the bottle of one brand of Caralluma fimbriata, one 500 mg capsule should be taken 30-45 minutes before eating, two or three times per day. The package insert recommends that users also follow a low-calorie weight loss plan. According to the manufacturer, pregnant or nursing women should avoid using these pills.

Many traditional Indian ayurvedic doctors say that they have seen few unpleasant side effects in the patients who use Caralluma fimbriata. Any side effects that do occur usually emerge during the first week and then disappear. Users may experience gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, stomach pain, gas, or mild nausea.

There is not enough research to determine the safety of Caralluma when it is combined with other medications. Although thought to be safe, it is always better to err on the side of caution when supplementing. Anyone considering the use of this product may find it helpful to consult with a healthcare provider first.

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