Caralluma fimbriata is an edible cactus that has a long history of use in India, where it is grown as a vegetable and used in curries and chutneys. It was also traditionally used by indigenous peoples to suppress hunger and enhance endurance.
“It’s traditionally a famine food, so it was eaten in times of food shortage. It was also eaten to curb hunger for hunters going on a long hunt to prevent hunger pangs,” said Chase Shryoc, VP Sales Gencore North America.
Gencor Pacific commercialized the extract of C. fimbriata, under the brand name Slimaluma, positioning the ingredient as an appetite suppressant.
Honing in on the trends
Shryroc told NutraIngredients-USA that the satiety product is an ideal accessory to some of the trendy diets we’re seeing lately.
“One thing we’ve been seeing right now is the low-carb trend, the keto trend, the intermittent fasting trend. For all of those, you can get different levels of hunger pangs.”
Gencor released Slimaluma into the United States market in 2006, selling the extract in bulk powder to suit a variety of formats. The FDA added the ingredient to the GRAS list of food ingredients in 2014.
“At times it’s been a top-selling product in the US, when we first launched it, it did really well. But what happens as many people know, is weight loss can be very fad-oriented. So we had a lot of companies launching Caralluma extracts that weren’t standardized properly, weren’t controlled, or the same purity as our patented extract, so it kinda diluted the market.”
In order to cut through all the noise, Gencor conducted several clinical studies on the effectiveness and safety of Slimaluma. The company said it has four published human clinical studies, three in-vitro studies, seven animal studies, two phytochemical studies, and five toxicity studies under its belt to date.
“We first brought Slimaluma to market about 10 years ago. We did some earlier studies. We were able to show increased satiety, the slimming down, the reduction of belly fat. But everyone wants to know how a weight loss can occur and what’s happening exactly.”
One study suggests Slimaluma promotes a reduction in pre-adipocyte cell division, which aids in fat loss.
“In studies it has been shown to prevent differentiation of adipose tissue. So as fat cells grow larger, they will split and separate, so you will increase the number of fat cells. Our ingredient prevents that separation,” Shryoc told NutraIngredients-USA.
Another animal study found a reduction in hunger in animals supplemented with Caralluma Fimbriata extract.
“The satiety mechanism is well-defined. A lot of products in the market are geared toward burning off calories, where this is helping you eat a healthier quantity of food. In animal studies, we’ve seen that they prefer healthier, less sugary food. So it can help you choose a healthier diet. They were satisfied by a less sugary diet,” said Shryoc.
Human clinical studies
A 60 day, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted using Slimaluma on 50 subjects in India. The study authors wrote, “At the end of 30 and 60 days of intervention, blood glucose and lipids, anthropometric measurements, dietary intake and assessment of appetite was performed. Waist circumference and hunger levels over the observation period showed a significant decline in the experimental group when compared to the placebo group. While there was a trend towards a greater decrease in body weight, body mass index, hip circumference, body fat and energy intake between assessment time points in the experimental group, these were not significantly different between experimental and placebo groups. Caralluma extract appears to suppress appetite, and reduce waist circumference when compared to placebo over a 2 month period.”
A 12-week randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 33 obese and overweight subjects. The study measured the effect of Slimaluma on waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, among other factors. The study concluded, “Supplementation with C. fimbriata extract whilst controlling overall dietary intake and physical activity may potentially play a role in curbing central obesity, the key component of metabolic syndrome. Controlling dietary intake and exercise improved body weight and favourably influenced the metabolic risk profile.”
In addition to being an appetite suppressant, Shryoc told us that through their research, Gencor observed nootropic activity in animals, which led to human studies.
“So we took that to the human clinical trials and were able to show positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety in humans. So some people stress eat. If you have more stress, you eat more and gain weight. And by reducing that stress we are helping to increase satiety.”
Shryoc added that the results demonstrated a decrease in anxiety and stress at weeks four and eight when compared to the placebo groups.
Additionally, Shryoc said a human clinical study that examines satiety has just wrapped up and has been sent for peer review. That study is slated to be published in the coming weeks.
Weight Management Webinar
NutraIngredients-USA Deputy Editor Hank Schultz will be joined by industry experts Guru Ramanathan, PhD, Tim Avila, Hector Lopez MD and attorney Justin Prochnow for the Weight Management 2020 Webinar scheduled for January 29. The panel will delve into the science behind the most popular ingredients, where the overall market is going, and what the salient regulatory issues are. For more information and to register for this FREE offering, visit the event homepage.