The Hoodia Gordonii Plant
Hoodia are natives to the semi-deserts of S. Africa and Namibia.
There are about 20 species in this family. The
plant form a clump of short, upright stem in pale green. These plants
are very difficult to grow and need a lot of attention and control
of watering, temperature and sunlight. The H. gordonii has become
lately in the spot light of a public interest as a supplement for
diet by suppressing hunger and thirst.
Since time immemorial, the succulent Hoodia
has grown in the Kalahari desert in southern Africa and has been
eaten by the San bushmen during their long hunting trips. Its juice
takes the edge off appetite and thirst, and has enabled the hunters
to respect their tradition of bringing home their entire catch,
without eating of it on the way. The San Bushmen of the Kalahari,
one of the world's oldest and most primitive tribes, had been eating
the Hoodia for thousands of years, to stave off hunger during there
trips they cut off a stem of the Hoodia cactus about the size of
a cucumber and munch on it over a couple of days.
The Haioms of northern Namibia still use
Hoodia sap to treat allergic reactions in the eyes, and to treat
severe stomach pain they boil Hoodia pieces in water and drink
the brew. The Anikhwe of northern Botswana feed children who "eat
too much" pieces of Hoodia to make them eat less. Already decades
ago obese members of the Khomani community of north-western South
Africa were eating the Hoodia to slim down or to maintain a high
In the old days people consumed the plant to meet the
requirements of a healthy body whereas today overweight young
people do so to slim down to meet the requirements of fashion.
Now the Hoodia, which grows to 6ft - taller than the bushmen themselves
- is in the centre of public interest the cactus also attracted
the interest of the Western drug industry. Extracts from the Hoodia
plant have shown in clinical trials on obese subjects to reduce
caloric intake by 30% to 40%. Significant weight loss has resulted
from such a drop in caloric intake.
Cultivating these slow growing plants can be difficult,
they need temperatures of at least 10 -16 oC (50-61 F) in sun
or shade. There are about 20 species in this family. The plant
form a clump of short, upright stem in pale green.