From Mexico to Africa to Southeast Asia and India, the tart pulp of Garcinia cambogia is used to flavor everything from soda and sweets to spicy sauces and savory dishes. If you don’t recognize the name, that’s because it usually goes by one if its aliases: tamarind.

But although the humble powerhouse of a fruit has been eaten and savored for ages, its time to shine is now, thanks to its newly minted status as the next fat-burning miracle supplement. It got the coveted nod from celebrity television doctor Mehmet Oz, and its popularity is soaring.

The small fruit, native to Indonesia but grown across the globe, is said to make meals more filling. And many suggest that a compound from the peel of the fruit, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), is an effective supplement for weight loss.  According to Oz, researchers claim that HCA can double or triple one’s weight loss. He explains that the HCA extract from Garcinia cambogia supplement helps people to lose weight by blocking fat and suppressing the appetite.

And while miracle supplements have plenty of skeptics disputing their powers, studies on Garcinia cambogia do seem to show promise.

In one controlled study that he recounts, 60 obese people went on an eight-week diet of 1,200 calories per day with either a 1,320 mg daily dose of HCA or a placebo. The HCA group lost 14 pounds, compared to 6.1 pounds in the placebo group. Another study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy concluded that the supplement was indeed a “highly effective adjunct to healthy weight control.”

Oz says that with no other changes, you may lose two to four pounds in a month; but as with all weight loss plan, adding exercise and eating healthfully are recommended.

The Wall Street Journal notes a few negative factors about using Garcinia cambogia: Some brands do not come with the recommended strength of HCA for weight loss; some users are not checking with their physicians to see if the supplement is safe for them; and some supplements come with fillers and binders.

But there are ways around these problems; simply heed the following tips:

  • Make sure the brand you choose contains 60 percent HCA.
  • Dosage should be at least 800 mg, which is the recommended dose to be taken daily, 30 to 60 minutes before your three main meals of the day.
  • Avoid taking more than 3,000 mg in 24 hours because it can cause minor side effects like stomach pain.
  • Select a brand free of artificial ingredients, fillers or binders; but calcium, potassium, and chromium are okay.
  • Buy a supplement made in a certified lab in the USA.
And as with all supplement use, consult you physician first.

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