Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects


Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview


Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) other names: Cactus, Cactus Hoodia, Cactus du Kalahari, Extrait de Hoodia, Hoodia Cactus, Hoodia Extract, Hoodia Gordonii, Hoodia Gordonii Cactus, Hoodia P57, Kalahari Cactus, Kalahari Diet, P57, Xhoba.

The herb Hoodia pilifera gets is name from Van Hood, who was a keen and tender cultivator. On the other hand, the botanical name of the species is derived from the Latin term ‘pilus', ‘hair; trifle' + ‘i' - the connective vowel is made use of in Latin from the Latin word ‘fero', denoting ‘to bear, carry and bring'. In effect, this refers to the apical hairy spines present on the tip of every tubercle (a small, firm, rounded nodule).

Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) picture


Native to South Africa, Hoodia pilifera is a leafless plant having a fat, succulent stem. Generally, Hoodia pilifera is found growing in parched areas at an altitude of approximately 300 meters to 900 meters. The Hoodia pilifera produces saucer shaped flowers that have a deep purple to nearly black to pinkish brown color inside, while on the exterior it has a reddish green hue. The flowers of Hoodia pilifera may appear solitarily or even in small clusters or inflorescences. The flowers of the Hoodia pilifera are somewhat diminutive having a corolla that is pinkish-yellow in most cases, while the corona has a yellow hue with a potent wicked smell. On the other hand, the pedicels are comparatively long which makes the flower somewhat droopy at times.

It may be noted that the Hoodia pilifera plants are uses in the same manner as the Hoodia gordonii to suppress appetite and thirst.

Hoodia pilifera is a succulent plant growing up to a height of 0.5 meters, having plump, uneven and thorny stems that originate from a common base. The flowers of Hoodia pilifera possesses the smell of decaying flesh with a view to draw flies and blowflies, which act as main pollinators. The seed capsules of Hoodia pilifera remind you of the horns of a goat and enclose numerous brown seeds having silky seed hairs. Currently, three sub-species of the Hoodia pilifera are known. The sub-species pilifera bears purple-brownish flowers that grow up to 20 mm in diameter, while the sub-species annulata bears flowers that have deep purple to black color and grows up to 20 mm to 30 mm in diameter with unfolding lobes. The third known sub-species is called pillansii which produces flowers whose color ranges from yellow to pink and are devoid of the elevated rim or annulus, which is present in the other two sub-species. The main species that is under commercial development is Hoodia gordonii, which produces large, flesh-colored flowers.

Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) flower


Native to the arid regions of Southern Africa, hoodia has been cultivated on a trial level and is yet to be commercialized completely. Although it is very simple to cultivate the plants in the Hoodia species, the plants are vulnerable to root decay owing to excessive watering as well as lack of clean air. The plant generally requires watering during the growing season and very rarely during the winters. Normally, it is advisable to over-winter the plants when they are grown in warm conditions - at around 10°C. However, despite being native to Africa, the Hoodia species appear to grow excellently as well as produce flowers devoid of any additional heat that one may have considered necessary for cultivating these plants. Sometimes the plants are also able to endure temperatures close to 0°C or even below provided they are maintained in a dry state.


Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Health Benefits


Hoodia is a cactus-type plant from the Kalahari desert in Africa.

People use hoodia to curb their appetite so they are able to lose weight. According to some claims, San bushmen in Africa eat hoodia to fight off hunger during long hunts.

The stems of the plants belonging to the Hoodia species as well as other succulents are also known as carrion flowers or stapeliads - locally called ‘ghaap'. Traditionally, the Khoi-San herders of Namibia and South Africa use the stems of the hoodia to suppress their appetite as well thirst. It may be mentioned that the appetite suppressant code has been isolated, recognized as well as patented. Currently, scientists are studying the appetite suppressant principle of the Hoodia with a view to develop a medication to cure obesity.

Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) plant


In South Africa, the country where the plant originated, people use the Hoodia plant species as an expedient food during emergencies. In addition, Hoodia is also used as a source of moisture in ruthless parched surroundings. Hoodia pilifera possesses a bland, but cool and watery flavor. Some people consume the plant raw, while there are others who preserve it in sugar before eating the plant, especially the stems.

The unripe pods of Hoodia pilifera are a favourite among the people for its sweetness. Like Hoodia gordonii as well as many other succulents that are referred to as carrion flowers or stapeliads, plants of this species may be used to suppress appetite as well as thirst. To eat the plant, the stem of Hoodia pilifera is cut into small pieces, the skin of Hoodia pilifera is peeled to remove the thorns and consumed fresh. However, the most favourable dose of this Hoodia pilifera is yet to be known.

Be careful when buying hoodia products. According to news reports, some samples of hoodia sold on the Internet do not contain any hoodia at all. You might not get what’s listed on the label.

Hoodia (Hoodia Pilifera) Side effects


There isn’t enough information to know if hoodia is safe.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of hoodia during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.