Herbal Diet Drugs

'Herbal Diet Drugs', 'herbal-diet-drugs', 179, 1, '

Many of the world’s greatest healing agents are derived from only a few species of plants. Pharmaceutical science has often turned to Nature and its library of compounds, in its search for miracle cures.

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This has not always proved to be beneficial, which is illustrated by two popular OTC diet drugs.

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Ephedine and phenylpropanolamine are two examples of these miracle therapies. They are based on the active ingredients in the edible stimulant plants ma huang (ephedra) and catha edulis (khat) respectively.

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Phenylpropanolamine is an appetite suppressant and close pharmacological cousin to amphetamines.

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Phenylpropanolamine is implicated in increasing blood pressure and risk of stroke as well as producing anxiety. It is a mixture of d and l- form os norephedrine and is a widely used and abused drug. The anorexic behavior it induces and the occasional cerebral hemorrhage that accompanies abuse of the drug caused the FDA to reclassify the drug as one that is not generally recognized as safe and effective. Ephedrine or phenylephrine amine, psuedoephedrine, norephedrine, phenylephrine, cathine are synthethic chemical cousins of naturally occurring neurotransmitters. These compounds act by stimulating those nerve endings that normally respond to epinephrine (adrenaline). Ephedrine is easily converted into cathine and methamphetamine, which has contribute to the epidemic use of these stimulants. The FDA has banned pheylpropanolamine and ephedrine for most uses and are part of the Bush administration’s war on methamphetamine abuse as part of the ammended Patriot Act of 2005. The true benefits of medicinal herbs lie, not in producing a dramatic change in biochemiistry, but rather in their ability to stimulate the body’s self-correcting forces. This activity enhances the body’s recuperative powers and makes it more resistant to disease. The benefits provided by pharmaceutical versions of these drugs are clearly stronger, as are their side effects. The diet industry has developed several products that contain botanical compounds. Their mechanisim in helping dieters loose weight is by either reducing appetite or stimulating the body’s metabolic rate to burn fat. Plants that naturally repress appetite include Ma huang (ephedra) Garcina cambogia, (citrimax), Panax japonicus and Hoodia. There are many products that purport to cause fat meltdown by increasing core temperature. They often contain non-botanical components like metabolic intermediaries, insulin substitutes, and pre-testosterone compounds. Their manufacturers claim that these products act as thermogenic fat burners that raises the metabolic thermometer, blocks carbohydrate and fat metabolism, increases thyroid hormone production and lean muscle mass.

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Consumers are under the misguided impression that health store managers can dispense medical opinions similar to way trained and licensed pharmacists can recommend cold remedies, cough suppressants and antihistamines. This is a troubling consequence of organized medicine refusal to incorporate nutritional strategies and botanical therapies into their practices thus driving patients to unqualified sources. Saponins and Glycosides Many of a plant’s active compunds belong to a class of chemicals known as saponins. Saponins are plant glycosides. Glycosides are plant steroids. They are often called sterols. Sterols have a backbone of five cyclic carbon rings whereas human steroids, which they are similar to, are made up of only four such rings. Glycoside variety is achieved by sugar molecules added to the basic five-ringed structure or core. Higher sugar content makes the glycoside more water soluble, which improves its availability to the cardiovascular system. Saponins are named to reflect their tendency to form a lather. These lipid soluble compounds are responsible for many of the effects of herbs. Herbs can reverse stress in either direction because they contain opposing sets of saponins While one saponin can bind with one receptor, another can bind with a different one. That is how nature balances its drugs. Herbs promote balance and reverse stress. The saponins in herbs can improve blood pressure, help maintain a healthy lipid profile and improve insulin sensitivity. They can also enhance immunity, and moderate the hormonal transitions of females. The core of a saponin is a triterpene, a structure made up of five carbon rings to which sugar groups are attached. A sapogenin’s core is the equivalent of the backbone of a steroid. Saponins are found throughout the plant world and were duplicated in synthesizising the pharmaceutical drugs known as the cardiac glycosides. A saponin is classified on the basis of its carbohydrate content and its sapogenin core. The activity of any given molecule is dependent the combination of core structure and its carbohydrate appendage. Different carbohydrate appendages on the same core provides the plant with a library of similarly structured compounds. The diversity of a plant’s saponins is due to their different sugar alignments whose acivity is based on those alignments. This explains the myriad and often contradictory effects of botanicals. Plant sterols are more varied because of these sugars. They differ from human steroids by their core possessing five carbon rings instead of a steroids, four. Plant saponins and human steroids are remarkably similar in structure and function. Steroids and saponins are lipid soluble substances that can easily cross the lipid rich, barrier of cell membranes and bind with receptors, steroid carriers and genes. Steroids are molecules made up of four (tetracyclic) carbon rings. This is the classic steroid backbone from which a variety of sugars and small chains are draped. These substitutions represent the only diversity permitted within steroid hormones. The lipid solubility of steroids allows them access to the nucleus where they can interact with DNA to produce their intended effects. Sapogenins on the other hand, are plant steroids that exist in many variations and provide enormous diversity with respect to the receptors they can bind with. They make up a big part of nature’s library of compounds and are especially important as medicinal compounds. Panax japonicus . Pseduo ginseng There are five different species of ginseng. Each one providing a different spectrum of saponins, which are called panaxosides. One of the species of ginseng, thought to be low in active saponins and therefore less important as a medicinal herb, is panax japonicus. This herb is often referred to as pseudo-ginseng or its Japanese name of chikusetsy-ninjin. Panax japonicus synthesizes a different set of saponins than the adaptogenic herb, panax gingeng Its library contains a saponin dubbed Chikusetsu-saponin. Chikusetsu-saponin is being investigated for its anti-lipase activity similar to the activity of Xenical (Orlistat). The source of these saponins are the rhizome of the panax japonicus plant. The rhizome is the underground stem of the plant. The sapongenin that is built into chikusetsu saponin binds with the lipase binding site, occupying the receptor and preventing a fatty chain from binding. Without the ability of fats to bind to lipase, they remain as a long chain and are unable to be absorbed in the small intestine. Instead of being digested and its energy stored, fats are excreted in the feces. This is the mechanism behind Xenical, the top selling prescription weight loss drug and Alli, its OTC version. Camellia sinensis . Green Tea Leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis are used to brew tea. Black tea leaves are fermented leaves, which causes the oxidation of most of the phytochemicals contained in the original plant. Green tea leaves on the other hand are unfermented and therefore retain the library of phytocompounds nature provided. The most medicinally important chemical of green tea are its catechins, a type of flavonoid. Catechins are classified as polyphenols based on the presence of a phenol ring in its chemical structure. There are four types of catechins in tea. Green tea polyphenols are thought to prevent cancer, atherosclerosis and delay the appearance of wrinkles and aging. They also possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. The green tea catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is also thought to produce a thermogenic effect on the body, similar to the effect caffeine produces. Increased core temperature helps lower body weight. Epigallocatechin gallate contains 3 phenol rings which confers very strong antixoidant properties to the catechin and is though to provide the compound with the ability to stimulate thermogenesis. Its thermogenic potential involve the interaction between the catechin and the body’s natural neurotransmitter, adrenaline. EGCG is purported to reduce food intake, lower body weight and decrease blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and is thought to interact with the leptin-appetite pathway to repress appetite. Green tea is unfermented tea leaves, which contains very strong antioxidant polyphenol (catechins). Some help prevent cancers of the gastrointestinal tract while others inhibit the formation of nitrosamines. Catechins can also cross the blood-brain barrier to neutralize free radicals in the brain and stimulate fat oxidation. Garcina cambogia Citrin and Citrimax are proprietary supplements derived from Garcina cambogia, an Ayurvedic herb. These substances contain hydroxycitric acid. Hydroxycitric acid is used in diet supplement formulas because its is purported to increase the body’s capacity to store glycogen, enhance the satiety signals to the hypothalamus and reduce fatty acid synthesis. It is quietly building a reputation for safety and good results. Chitosan Another additon nto the arsenal of botanical diet aids is the compound known as Chitosan. It is marketed as a ‘fat magnet’. Chitosan is derived from chitin, an polysaccharide found in the exoskeleton of shellfish (shrimp, lobster, and crabs). It is an oligosaccharide similar to cellulose. Unlike cellulose, the manufacturers of dietary supplements that contain chitosan, claim that unlike plant fiber, chitosan has the ability to significantly bind with fat and acts as a ‘fat sponge’ in the digestive tract.  Its manufacturers claim that because chitosan binds with fats before they can be digested, weight loss will occur. They also claim that chitosan reduces cholesterol levels and improves the lipid profiles of unhealthy people. Neither of these claims have been substantiated but that hasn’t deterred supplement manufacturers from selling it nor desperate overweight people from trying it.

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The true benefits of medicinal herbs lie, not in producing a dramatic change in biochemiistry, but rather in their ability to stimulate the body’s self-correcting forces. This activity enhances the body’s recuperative powers and makes it more resistant to disease. The benefits provided by pharmaceutical versions of these drugs are clearly stronger, as are their side effects. The diet industry has developed several products that contain botanical compounds. Their mechanisim in helping dieters loose weight is by either reducing appetite or stimulating the body’s metabolic rate to burn fat. Plants that naturally repress appetite include Ma huang (ephedra) Garcina cambogia, (citrimax), Panax japonicus and Hoodia. There are many products that purport to cause fat meltdown by increasing core temperature. They often contain non-botanical components like metabolic intermediaries, insulin substitutes, and pre-testosterone compounds. Their manufacturers claim that these products act as thermogenic fat burners that raises the metabolic thermometer, blocks carbohydrate and fat metabolism, increases thyroid hormone production and lean muscle mass. Consumers are under the misguided impression that health store managers can dispense medical opinions similar to way trained and licensed pharmacists can recommend cold remedies, cough suppressants and antihistamines. This is a troubling consequence of organized medicine refusal to incorporate nutritional strategies and botanical therapies into their practices thus driving patients to unqualified sources. Saponins and Glycosides Many of a plant’s active compunds belong to a class of chemicals known as saponins. Saponins are plant glycosides. Glycosides are plant steroids. They are often called sterols. Sterols have a backbone of five cyclic carbon rings whereas human steroids, which they are similar to, are made up of only four such rings. Glycoside variety is achieved by sugar molecules added to the basic five-ringed structure or core. Higher sugar content makes the glycoside more water soluble, which improves its availability to the cardiovascular system. Saponins are named to reflect their tendency to form a lather. These lipid soluble compounds are responsible for many of the effects of herbs. Herbs can reverse stress in either direction because they contain opposing sets of saponins While one saponin can bind with one receptor, another can bind with a different one. That is how nature balances its drugs. Herbs promote balance and reverse stress. The saponins in herbs can improve blood pressure, help maintain a healthy lipid profile and improve insulin sensitivity. They can also enhance immunity, and moderate the hormonal transitions of females. The core of a saponin is a triterpene, a structure made up of five carbon rings to which sugar groups are attached. A sapogenin’s core is the equivalent of the backbone of a steroid. Saponins are found throughout the plant world and were duplicated in synthesizising the pharmaceutical drugs known as the cardiac glycosides. A saponin is classified on the basis of its carbohydrate content and its sapogenin core. The activity of any given molecule is dependent the combination of core structure and its carbohydrate appendage. Different carbohydrate appendages on the same core provides the plant with a library of similarly structured compounds. The diversity of a plant’s saponins is due to their different sugar alignments whose acivity is based on those alignments. This explains the myriad and often contradictory effects of botanicals. Plant sterols are more varied because of these sugars. They differ from human steroids by their core possessing five carbon rings instead of a steroids, four. Plant saponins and human steroids are remarkably similar in structure and function. Steroids and saponins are lipid soluble substances that can easily cross the lipid rich, barrier of cell membranes and bind with receptors, steroid carriers and genes. Steroids are molecules made up of four (tetracyclic) carbon rings. This is the classic steroid backbone from which a variety of sugars and small chains are draped. These substitutions represent the only diversity permitted within steroid hormones. The lipid solubility of steroids allows them access to the nucleus where they can interact with DNA to produce their intended effects. Sapogenins on the other hand, are plant steroids that exist in many variations and provide enormous diversity with respect to the receptors they can bind with. They make up a big part of nature’s library of compounds and are especially important as medicinal compounds. Panax japonicus . Pseduo ginseng There are five different species of ginseng. Each one providing a different spectrum of saponins, which are called panaxosides. One of the species of ginseng, thought to be low in active saponins and therefore less important as a medicinal herb, is panax japonicus. This herb is often referred to as pseudo-ginseng or its Japanese name of chikusetsy-ninjin. Panax japonicus synthesizes a different set of saponins than the adaptogenic herb, panax gingeng Its library contains a saponin dubbed Chikusetsu-saponin. Chikusetsu-saponin is being investigated for its anti-lipase activity similar to the activity of Xenical (Orlistat). The source of these saponins are the rhizome of the panax japonicus plant. The rhizome is the underground stem of the plant. The sapongenin that is built into chikusetsu saponin binds with the lipase binding site, occupying the receptor and preventing a fatty chain from binding. Without the ability of fats to bind to lipase, they remain as a long chain and are unable to be absorbed in the small intestine. Instead of being digested and its energy stored, fats are excreted in the feces. This is the mechanism behind Xenical, the top selling prescription weight loss drug and Alli, its OTC version. Camellia sinensis . Green Tea Leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis are used to brew tea. Black tea leaves are fermented leaves, which causes the oxidation of most of the phytochemicals contained in the original plant. Green tea leaves on the other hand are unfermented and therefore retain the library of phytocompounds nature provided. The most medicinally important chemical of green tea are its catechins, a type of flavonoid. Catechins are classified as polyphenols based on the presence of a phenol ring in its chemical structure. There are four types of catechins in tea. Green tea polyphenols are thought to prevent cancer, atherosclerosis and delay the appearance of wrinkles and aging. They also possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. The green tea catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is also thought to produce a thermogenic effect on the body, similar to the effect caffeine produces. Increased core temperature helps lower body weight. Epigallocatechin gallate contains 3 phenol rings which confers very strong antixoidant properties to the catechin and is though to provide the compound with the ability to stimulate thermogenesis. Its thermogenic potential involve the interaction between the catechin and the body’s natural neurotransmitter, adrenaline. EGCG is purported to reduce food intake, lower body weight and decrease blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and is thought to interact with the leptin-appetite pathway to repress appetite. Green tea is unfermented tea leaves, which contains very strong antioxidant polyphenol (catechins). Some help prevent cancers of the gastrointestinal tract while others inhibit the formation of nitrosamines. Catechins can also cross the blood-brain barrier to neutralize free radicals in the brain and stimulate fat oxidation. Garcina cambogia Citrin and Citrimax are proprietary supplements derived from Garcina cambogia, an Ayurvedic herb. These substances contain hydroxycitric acid. Hydroxycitric acid is used in diet supplement formulas because its is purported to increase the body’s capacity to store glycogen, enhance the satiety signals to the hypothalamus and reduce fatty acid synthesis. It is quietly building a reputation for safety and good results. Chitosan Another additon nto the arsenal of botanical diet aids is the compound known as Chitosan. It is marketed as a ‘fat magnet’. Chitosan is derived from chitin, an polysaccharide found in the exoskeleton of shellfish (shrimp, lobster, and crabs). It is an oligosaccharide similar to cellulose. Unlike cellulose, the manufacturers of dietary supplements that contain chitosan, claim that unlike plant fiber, chitosan has the ability to significantly bind with fat and acts as a ‘fat sponge’ in the digestive tract.  Its manufacturers claim that because chitosan binds with fats before they can be digested, weight loss will occur. They also claim that chitosan reduces cholesterol levels and improves the lipid profiles of unhealthy people. Neither of these claims have been substantiated but that hasn’t deterred supplement manufacturers from selling it nor desperate overweight people from trying it. Herpericum perforatum • St. John’s Wort St. John’s Wort is is a plant with bright yellow-orange flowers. Its leaves and flowers are incorporated into medicinal preparations. St John’s Wort is highly touted as an herb that serves as the botanical alternative to Prozac. Prozac (a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor) augments the neurotransmission of serotonin. Prozac is used in the treatment of depression. Serotonin acts on specific nuclei in the hypothalamus, and other parts of the brain to affect mood, emotions, hunger and libido. St John’s wort and its active ingredient (hypericin) interact with the brain through a different pathway. Hyperforin and hypericin are the compounds that are thought to have pharmacological activity. These compounds act synergistically to produce the drug’s effects. The antidepressant activity is thought to result from selective inhibition of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake in the central nervous system. St. John’s wort has recently been included in herbal formulas for weight management, supposedly for its calming effect on personality and its reduction of compulsiveness. Ma huang • Ephedra Ephedrine is a chemical cousin of the eurotransmitter, epinephrine (adrenaline). It is an alkaloid, similar in structure and fumction to amphetamine and methamphetamine. Like those amines, ephedrine has an anorectic or appetite-suppressing, effect. Ephedrine acts by stimulating those nerve endings that normally respond to epinephrine (adrenaline). These nerves are known as beta-adrenergic and the compounds that stimulate them are known as agonists and those that repress them, blockers or antagonists. Ephedrine is a potent beta-adrenergic agonist. It binds with membrane receptors located on the endothelium (the thin layer lining blood vessels). When these receptors are stimulated they cause the constriction of the vessel and a corresponding increase in heart rate. Ephedrine is approved by the FDA only for the treatment of asthma due to its decongestant activity and its ability to shrink congested mucosa membranes. It is not approved for weight loss. The vasoconstricting effect of ephedrine is to direct blood away from the skin and towards skeletal muscle causing a dop in core temperature, which is overcome by its action on breaking down adipose tissue in order to raise body temperature. Ephedrine is used in weight loss formulas as part of an ECA stack (ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin). Caffeine and aspirin’s purpose in the stack is to prolong the effect of ephedrine. s. ECA stacks increase metabolic rate, burn fat, supress appetite, and raises core temperature. Due to the number and severity of side effects, the FDA has banned ephedrine stacks. Their ban however has recently been struck down by a federal court in Utah and then restored on appeal in Denver. It is interesting to note where any future litigation takes place since Utah is the center of the Diet Supplement industry whose senator Orin Hatch, has a brother reintroduce ephedriine as a weight loss supplement. Supplement manufacturers attemted to circumvent the ban by devising an herbal version of the ECA stack. These went by various names and they too have been banned. The essential component in the stack is an herbal version of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, which is found in the plant Ephedra sinica (Ma huang). The herb produces the identical effect as the pharmaceutical drug, ephedrine. The combinations of ephedra, guarana and white willow are the botanical equivqlent of the ECA stack, where ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin are replaced with these herbal compounds. Some formulas add the mood enhancer St. John’s Wort to this ‘stack’. Like the pharmaceutical ECA stack, these herbal formulas suppress appetite and raise body temperatures to produce the desired fat burning effect. Both stacks are geared to bodybuilders and are not intended to treat obesity. Their manufacturers claim they act as thermogenic fat burners, which raises the metabolic thermometer, blocks carbohydrate and fat metabolism and increases thyroid hormone production. In 2001, the NFL banned the use of any product containing ephedra. hoodia Botanical drugs or herbal medicine interact with receptors just as drugs do. Their effects are explained by the same pharmaceutical MOs that drugs use. Their use in remedies is due to the active compounds they contain. One plant, the cactus-like Hoodia plant has brought botanical medicine to the world’s attention. Hoodia exploitation and the forces of biopiracy are not only endangering a primitive way of life but they are also threatening a species of plants with extinction. Hoodia is a spiny, pale-green succulent plant that grows in the semi-dessert conditions of the Kalahari in southern Africa. This water deprived land covers most of Botswana and Namibia and part of South Africa. The plant is native only in this area, a region of the world where the indigenous San people live and who depend on the stems of the hoodia plant to withstand this harsh environment and overcome long periods of time without food. Hoodia grown in this region is thought to suppress appetite. The stems can be eaten whole or converted into a powder or dehydrated with alcohol to produce a more concentrated form of the plant, which serves as a potent appetite suppressant. The supplement industry has discovered its potential and as developed new therapies for overeaters and another method for bodybuilders to burn fat. Its use in weight-loss and bodybuilding supplements is actually threatening the existence of the indigenous plant and with it, the lives of the san who depend on the plant. Unfortunately, the transplanted, refined and packaged products sold in America does not. Hoodia gordonii is a rare plant, protected by conservation laws in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Hoodia can only be collected or grown with a special permit issued by these countries respective governments. Hoodia is included in a list of plants whose survival is threatened by commercialism. Hoodia belongs to a family of 20 species from southwestern Africa. One species in particular, hoodia gondoni is effective in repressing appetite. Nature provided this plant with an ability to help the indigenous people of the Kalahari who lived on it. The appetite suppresion properties of the Hoodia plant was discovered during a routine toxicology screening of botanical compounds in South Africa. It was observed that animals, who had been given hoodia to test for adverse reactions, lost a significant amount of weight. The plant was found to contain a previously unknown molecule, which seemed to suppress appetitie. This anorexic effect is due to the glycosides wrapped in the fibers of the plant’s pulp, which also gives it its bitter taste. The active ingredients in genuine hoodia suppress the desire to eat and drink. This effect provided San hunters with enough energy and freedom from hunger, to pursue big game. The nature of their hunt required several days to complete without the aid or burden of carrying food. Hoodia was introduced in 2004 and has been so successful that its existence is now endangered. Since Hoodia exists in many varieties, it is not hard to substitute another variety and still call it a Hoodia extract. The harvesting and trade of Hoodia plants is now restricted in order to conserve the plant populations and protect the indigenous people who lived off them. This scarcity and void in raw hoodia material has been filled by replica plants created by botanical manufacturers. P57 Development The hoodia plant was researched by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR ) and in 1995 their scientists successfully isolated the molecule responsible for Hoodia’s appetite suppression effect, P57AS3. The rights to P57’s were licensed to Phytopharm. Pfizer then attempted to isolate and manufacture the P57 molecule and after a few years of research, Pfizer concluded it was too costly a process. Phytopharm and Unilever, the manufacturer of SlimFast have now joined forces and intend to add P57 to their shakes and meal replacement products. They also intend to carry out additional clinical trials and to expand the Hoodia cultivation program. The hoodia plant has stimulated interest as an anti-obesity drug, using its active agent, the mysterious sounding P57. Apparently, the cost for extracting the active agent, was prohibitively expensive causing Pfizer to back out of its deal with Phytopharm. Until P57 can be synthetically manufactured, the plant will remain as the sole source of the anorexic compound. P57 is a glycoside similar to the cardioglycosides that are used to treat congestive heart failure. It was intended to be developed as a pure form of hoodia similar in the way digoxin and digitalis were developed from the foxglove plant. Hoodia’s P57 molecule is believed to bind to glucose receptors in the hypothalamus. Once P57 binds with the receptor, it initiates a cascade of signals that is interpreted as satiation or a feeling of fullness and is translated as a lack of appetitie and interest in food. Hoodia and P57 demonstrates flaws in botanical research and the use of research to support their claims. The claims supporting the use of hoodia for appetite suppression are based on the lives and practices of the San, who only used the whole plant and only that which is was grown in the Kalahari. Hoodia is now grown everywhere. the US, Israel, China. Despite it origin, it is still classified as hoodia and its supplement manufacturers can still claim it as genuine hoodia. But the spectrum of phytocompounds contained in these replica plants is different from that of Kalahari hoodia, which is extremely rare now. Phytopharm, a pharmaceutical food manufacturer is using an extract of Hoodia gordonii to treat obesity and the preliminary results are promising. According to Phytopharm, hoodia contains a novel appetite suppressant that reduces caloric intake in overweight subjects, as demonstrated in their double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study announced in December 2001. This small study in 2001 involved 18 obese patients. Half of them took P57, the other nine were given placebo. Phytopharm observed that the obese who took P57 had reduced their daily calorie intake by 1,000. Hoodia manufacturers all point to that study, which was never submitted for peer-review, to support the legitimacy of their weight loss claims. In addtion, the study did not involve the plant or its extracts but instead was carried out using the isolated P57 molecule. Chemistry and Pharmacology The active agent of hoodia gordonii is a steroidal glycoside, dubbed P57AS3 whose exact structure remains a secret. This molecule is responsible for the anorexic activity of hoodia gordonii. The structure of P57 is similar to that of the cardiac glycosides. The cardiac glycosides are natural saponins obtained from two species of the foxglove plant (digitalis purpurea and digitalis lananta). They produce more forceful and rhythmic contractions in the heart by increasing the amount of ATP produced. They are used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Interestingly, these glycosides also have a few side effects. One being a decrease in appetite. Despite their chemical similarity, the glycosides in hoodia do not follow the pathway of cardiac glycosides, which act via an interaction with the ATPase enzyme in cardiac muscle. Instead, P57 follows the mechanism that produces the side effect of the cardiac glycosides, appetite suppression. P57 has a strong affinity to bind to the glucose receptors that act as glucose monitors. This deceives the satiety center into creating the conscious feeling of fullness. As the binding of P57 continues, the urge to eat diminishes. P57 also increase the production of ATP molecules inside the hypothalamus, which initiates the cascade of reactions that results in anorexia. The hypothalamus is the master regulator gland of the brain. It lies in the middle of the brain’s floor and is perfectly positioned to monitor all signals sent to the brain. The hypothalamus monitors these events via its network of receptors. The signals it receives include releasing factors, neuropeptides, proteins, hormones, temperature, glucose, ATP concentration, as well as pressure and oxygen levels. The hypothalamus acts in conjunction with its pituitary neighbor to act as the brains communications center. Together they make up the brain’s brain. One of the many regulatory roles of the hypothalamus involve receptors, which are capable of responding to changes in glucose levels. These metabolic or nutrient-sensing receptors are stimulated when there is an increase in blood glucose, which occurs at the end or after a meal, producing a feeling of satiety. The events that occur after binding in the hypothalamus is unknown but probably involve ATP. ATP is well known as energy currency to power chemical reactions from enzyme- substrate reactions to muscle contractions. Inside the hypothalamus ATP takes on a new biological function as it becomes an energy sensing trigger. Once ATP levels rise, the appropriate neural and endocrine signals are then sent to repress appetite. Once glucose and ATP levels drops, hunger resumes so that glucose stores can be replenished by a meal. Hunger occurs when glucose receptors are unbound and there is a low concentration of ATP. In this model, it is the concentration of the energy molecule ATP in the hypothalamus, that regulates hunger. The cascade of reactions that result in hunger can be repressed by increasing the concentration of ATP in the brain and in binding to hypothalmic receptors. The hypothalamus collects the result from neural receptors and translates that into a perception of energy need. Here, the presence of excess ATP is the inhibiting signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for translating the whole body needs or total energy demands into a perception and action. The San The San or Bushmen were among the first inhabitants of the African sub-continent. The San are a nomad civilization that maintains its mobility by owning only those possessions, which they can carry. The San lived in total harmony with nature and unlike other humans posed no threat to their environment nor endangered any species by over-gathering. The San survive in one of the harshest environment on the planet, the Kalahari. Since this region is largely devoid of water the San have learned to depend on the water content of the food they eat and survival often meant sucking the moisture out of a tuber grown under the sand. As a consequence, the San developed a novel method for storing and saving what little water they could find. The San fill ostrich shells with water and then bury them deep beneath the sand. How they find them again is a mystery. The San hunted game and gathered the roots and fruits of plants. Their life was structured around the second most primitive drive, the need to hunt. The live their lives according to the seasons of the year and the migration of animals. Their movement was directed by the game they hunted. They roamed the desert in the harshest of conditions in search of their prey without the benefit or burden of food. The San are known for their stamina and for their relentless pursuit of their injured prey, which can go on for days. San hunters are able to prolong their hunts by dinning on the spiny tentacles of hoodia cut up into slices or by sucking on its juices. Fresh dried pulp is also used by hunters as hoodia is ground into a powder and carried around in a pouch. It is in this modified form that hoodia is sold as a dietary supplement.<