According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion adults that are approximately overweight currently exist in the world, of which three hundred million are obese. These numbers led to the finding that obesity appears as a major global epidemic, affecting countries in all stages of development. In Brazil, about 13% of the population is now considered obese and estimates suggest that by the year 2025, the country will be fifth in the world in obesity ranking. Although some herbal medicines are recommended in the treatment, numerous natural products are used indiscriminately to prevent, reduce or delay weight gain; there are no studies of its therapeutic efficacy and safety. Among these stands out the Hoodia gordonii commercial powder, a native plant of Africa, with purported appetite inhibitory action attributed to the active glycoside P57, which was sold freely until its ban by the Brazilian National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) in February 2007 because of the absence of scientific proofs of its efficacy and safety. In addition, information on its mechanism of action in inhibiting appetite and thirst are scarce, and its possible relation with leptin and insulin involved in the neuroendocrine regulation of appetite and satiety.
Key words: Hoodia gordonii, obesity, herbal medicine, treatment.
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