Hoodia (hoodia gordonii succulant) also called Kalahari cactus or Xhoba (Masson) — is a flowering, cactus-like plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert indigenous to the arid regions of South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia in Africa 1). Historically, the San Bushmen are said to chew the plant to help stave off hunger or to suppress appetite and thirst during long hunts. However, it may be more accurate to say that Hoodia is a food source and was used mostly to quench thirst. 2). An initial exploratory research with several species of Hoodia showed that H. gordonii contained steroid glycosides have appetite suppressant properties that decreased food intakes and body weights in lab rats 3). The research indicated the efficacy of Hoodia gordonii extract-12 and Hoodia gordonii extract-20, which are 2 major steroid glycosides present in Hoodia gordonii succulant, that pointed to these steroid glycosides as potential lead appetite-suppressing components of hoodia. gordonii succulant. A safety study with a 13-wk repeated administration of Hoodia gordonii extract4 (which contained 79.3% steroid glycosides) also showed that Hoodia gordonii extract induced significant dose-dependent reductions in food intakes and body weights in laboratory rats (SL Nicholson, A Orsi, G Salmon, CW Tam, and CL Ward, unpublished observations, 2007). From this limited but supportive research evidence and very substantial anecdotal literature, extracts of Hoodia gordonii succulant have become widely promoted as food supplements with putative weight-management properties. This development has arisen despite a lack of published evidence for efficacy and safety from randomized placebo-controlled human clinical trials that used well-characterized material and known dose-exposures to Hoodia gordonii 4). Today, hoodia dietary supplements are used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss. Dried extracts of stems and roots of Hoodia succulant are used to make powders, capsules, chewable tablets and liquid preparations for making teas. Some pure hoodia gordonii products also contain other herbs or minerals, such as green tea or chromium. Because it is sold as a dietary supplement, hoodia gordonii escapes the level of scrutiny the FDA gives prescription drugs and medications sold over the counter. Widely sold over the Internet and in health food and discount stores, Hoodia gordonii succulant is typically offered in capsules or tablets, but is also available in milk chocolate chews. A 30-day supply often costs $35 and up. We know very little about hoodia gordonii succulant because only one study of this herb has been done in people. No conclusive evidence to support the claim of appetite suppression. Little is known about the safety of hoodia. However, the one completed study in people raises concerns 5). In that study, participants taking hoodia gordonii succulant had more side effects than those taking placebos, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and odd skin sensations; they also had increases in blood pressure and undesirable changes in some.