Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Garcinia cambogia

3-minute read

What is Garcinia cambogia?

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical plant native to India and South-East Asia. It looks like a cross between a pumpkin and a tomato. It's also a supplement that has been promoted as a way to lose weight without additional exercise or dieting.

The skin of the fruit contains a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been found to aid weight loss in animal trials.

The extract of HCA is available in powdered form or pill form and can be purchased online or in health stores under a range of names — garcinia, garcinia cambogia extract, cambogia garcinia, garcinia diet supplement, garcinia gummi-gutta, garcinia complex or brindleberry.

Does Garcina cambogia enable weight loss?

The research on people suggests it probably does not help people to lose weight or if it does, the effect is very small. It is certainly not a breakthrough, as some of the advertisements might say.

A recent study into all the research about Garcina cambogia found it had no effect on people’s weight loss at all.

Is Garcina cambogia safe?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has evaluated the safety and quality of Garcinia cambogia, and found that it is safe to be used as an ingredient in lower-risk medicines. (The TGA didn’t evaluate specifically whether or not the ingredient works.)

Some studies have shown it can cause headache, nausea, and symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, stomach and intestines.

A few people who were taking weight-loss supplements containing Garcinia cambogia have developed liver damage, but experts are not sure which ingredient was responsible.

If you are taking Garcinia cambogia, it’s important to remember that it is a medicine. Like all medicines, it can have side effects and can interact with any other medicines you are taking. Always tell your doctor if you are thinking about taking a new medicine and why. They can then make sure it’s a suitable medicine for you, and safe for you to take.

Garcinia cambogia can be bought online, but this can be risky. Many websites are fake sites that sell out-of-date, poor quality, contaminated or fake medicines, and sorting the real sites from the fake is not easy. Visit the NPS Medicinewise website to find out about buying medicines online.

Most dietary supplements are not very effective for weight loss. If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your doctor. They can help you find a safe and effective weight loss strategy that is right for you.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is a very good way to start.


Journal of Obesity (The use of Garcinia extract (hydroxycitric acid) as a weight loss supplement: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials), Therapeutic Goods Administration (Garcinia gummi-gutta: ingredient suitable for use in lower risk medicines), Medical Journal of Australia (Fulminant liver failure and transplantation after use of dietary supplements), Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (Effectiveness of herbal medicines for weight loss: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2020

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Garcinia gummi-gutta: ingredient suitable for use in lower risk medicines | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Garcinia gummi-gutta, also commonly known as Garcinia cambogia, can be used as an ingredient in lower-risk (listed) medicines.

Read more on TGA – Therapeutic Goods Administration website

Toxins - Liver Foundation

Key points Toxins are things that are poisonous to the body If you are exposed to high levels of a toxin, your liver can get damaged The liver is very good at repairing itself, but sometimes toxins do serious damage to the liver Eventually, exposure to toxins can lead to…

Read more on Liver Foundation website

Medicines - Liver Foundation

Key points All drugs, even over-the-counter ones or ones bought on the internet, can have harmful side effects Herbal and dietary supplements are causing an increasing proportion of severe liver injury The liver processes many medicines and supplements People with liver disease need to be very careful about which medicines…

Read more on Liver Foundation website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.