The Hoodia Cactus is a cactus-like flowering plant. Just like cactuses, they retain water and nutrients in their stem. They are however unrelated to the cactus family.

These plants are usually found in the arid desert and are usually called "Queen of the Namib" or "Bushman's Hat." The yellow flowers give out a pungent smell that is overpowering that only flies go near them. The flies are also the ones responsible for the plant's pollination. The flowering plant can reach up to one meter in height. It sometimes serves as an ornamental plant especially in rock gardens.

There are 13 species of Hoodia Cactus. All of them are under the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as one of the plants that are not really endangered but must be controlled or else, there is a risk of extinction.
The most popular among the species of Hoodia Cactus is Hoodia Gordonii. This variety is hyped by media to curb appetite of those who take it. People who rely on herbal weight loss take Gordonii supplements.

Gordonii was eaten by South African and Namibian tribesmen to reserve energy to tackle a day's walk. Scientists took this practice under observation and proved scientifically that there is indeed, a hunger-curbing effect from the plant extracts, if taken in.

The substance found in the plant is called P57. Intake of P57 enables man and animals to survive the whole day without feeling hungry. Due to media hype, consumers buy supplements with the plant extract in several forms: diet pills, energy drinks, capsules, and energy bars.

The plant extract has varied results in different people depending on the metabolism. The average calorie reduction everyday is calculated at 1000 calories. For dieters and overweight persons, losing this much energy is vital for weight loss.

Aside from hunger suppression, this plant also has the ability to reduce amounts of gastric acid produced by stomach to as much as 40 percent. Too much gastric juice in the stomach lining gives the signal that the person is hungry, which results to more calorie intake. Lessening the gastric acid signals the body that it is not hungry. With this effect, the slimming process is easier.

Popular television shows like Oprah and CBS News' 60 minutes did their own investigation on the rumor relating Hoodia to weight loss. 60 minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl even went personally to South Africa to try the fresh plant extract. Oprah also asked volunteers to take the supplements within a period. The end results on both shows are both favorable in curbing hunger for up to a day.

Nowadays, the plant is marketed as an additional ingredient to diet drinks, energy bars, capsules, and diet pills. The supplements are effective as long as genuine Hoodia extracts are included in the consumables not just "essences." Health supplements with fake Hoodia do not affect weight loss and may contain high doses of caffeine and ephedra.

Aside from appetite suppressant, this Hoodia Cactus is also used to cure stomach cramps, hemorrhoid, tuberculosis, diabetes, and hypertension.