Garcinia cambogia is all over the news. You’ve probably heard the claims about how this “miracle” fruit can help you shed pounds and boost your workout. But does this tropical fruit really hold the key to better physical and mental health?
How It’s Supposed to Work
Garcinia cambogia contains a substance called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood, sexual desire, social behavior, and appetite.
Low serotonin levels are linked to depression and anxiety. As your serotonin levels rise, your mood improves. Studies on lab animals show that HCA helps increase serotonin levels, but we haven’t seen how that translates to humans and depression yet.
How Safe Is HCA?
Because HCA is derived naturally from a fruit, it’s technically safe to consume. But removing HCA from the fruit and processing it into supplement form has its risks. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls products if they’re found to be unsafe, they do not regulate supplements. The FDA advises extreme caution when adding any supplement to your diet. Just because you see it on the shelf, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Does It Treat Depression?
There have been no significant studies to test whether or not garcinia cambogia or HCA supplements can treat depression. However, some studies have shown that HCA can boost serotonin levels in laboratory animals.
With only minimal research conducted on lab animals, it’s a long stretch to think that one unprescribed, unregulated herbal supplement can treat such a debilitating and serious disorder. If you think you may be suffering from depression, contact your healthcare provider and work together to get past it safely and effectively.
Depression can be caused by one or a combination of factors, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. These can include: genetic, environmental, biological, and psychological factors. Treatment is often strongly tied to the cause. The first step to getting help is to visit a doctor to find out the cause and determine how to treat it.
If you’re looking to simply get out of a funk, boosting your mood through certain serotonin-enhancing foods, exercise, increased light exposure, and just finding your happy place will help. Garcinia cambogia supplements probably can’t hurt, but they may not help either.
True depression, on the other hand, requires medical treatment, which should not be substituted with an herbal supplement. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.