History of Hoodia Gordonii
As we discussed in the Overview of Hoodia, the Bushmen (or the
San) have used Hoodia plants as a natural appetite suppressant
for thousands of years. But how did the secret of the San get
out? It turns out by accident…
In 1996 the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
in South Africa was doing a study of indigenous foods that the
Bushmen ate. Part of the study was to test for toxic effects of
any plants that were consumed by the Bushmen. When they came to
Hoodia Gordonii, not only was it non-toxic - it helped animals
They found when they fed hoodia to animals, the animals lost
weight. By 1997, the CSIR isolated the bioactive compound in
Hoodia responsible for appetite suppression and obtained a
patent. The patent was licensed to Phytopharm and they named the
molecule - P57 (because it was the 57th product they spent money
What did the Bushmen get for their discovery of the Hoodia
At first - nothing! Turns out the CSIR told Phytopharm that the
tribe which discovered the Hoodia Gordonii plant had died out and
therefore no royalties were due. However, as Mark Twain might say
- "tales of the Bushmen's death were greatly exaggerated". When
the Bushmen got word that Phytopharm stood to make billions of
dollars off their knowledge about the hoodia gordonii plant they
were not happy.
Roger Chennells, a lawyer in South Africa who represents the
Bushmen, was quick to apply strong legal , moral and political
pressure on both the CSIR and Phytopharm. Chennells pointed out
to anyone who would listen that the taking of traditional
knowledge without compensation was "bio-piracy" and must be
In what is seen as a landmark case, Chennells was able to
convince the CSIR and Phytopharm to compensate the Bushmen. Now,
any company that legally harvests hoodia gordonii from the
Kalahari desert must pay royalties back to the Bushmen. Not only
is this fair and just, it also provides an excellent way to check
if the hoodia you buy is legitimate. If the company that makes
the hoodia is NOT paying royalties to the Bushmen, you do NOT
have a legitimate hoodia gordonii product.
So when will Phytopharm release a P57 based appetite suppressant?
Probably never. As we touched on in the overview, Pfizer had
originally paid Phytopharm for the rights to market a P57 based
diet pill. After a few year of unsuccessful attempts to make P57
synthetically, Pfizer pulled out of the deal. If a large amount
of P57 could not be created inexpensively in the lab, Pfizer was
While Phytopharm was discouraged by the Pfizer decision, they
knew that Hoodia Gordonii was too powerful an appetite
suppressant to give up trying to bring it to the market. In
December 2004, Phytopharm announced that Unilever had entered a
deal to market hoodia gordonii in its diet food product line.
Therefore, rather than producing diet drugs, it looks like
Phytopharm and Unilever will product diet supplements and diet
foods with hoodia. The first Unilever products will not be out
Does Phytopharm own the patent on the whole Hoodia Gordonii
This is an interesting question that we are sure will be decided
in court one day. Here is our take on the situation - Phytopharm
clearly owns the patent on the P57 molecule. If you want to try
to make a diet drug with P57 you need to work through Phytopharm.
The question of the Hoodia Gordonii plant itself being patented
is much more complicated. It is our belief that you can not
patent a plant, but you can patent the use of plants and a
process to extract plants. Here is an exact quote from Richard
Dixey, CEO of Phytopharm when he appeared on 60 minutes…
"The patent is on the application of the plant as a weight-loss
material. And, of course, the active compounds within the plant.
It's not on the plant itself," says Dixey.
So no one else can use hoodia for weight loss? "As a
weight-management product without infringing the patent, that's
correct," says Dixey.
The way we read this (and again we are not lawyers and are not
giving any legal advice) is as follows - you can sell a Hoodia
Gordonii supplement, you just can NOT say it is for weight loss.
This is why many of the best Hoodia supplements have very plain
labels that just say "Hoodia Gordonii" but do not say anything
about using it as a weight loss or appetite suppressant
|Hoodia Gordonii Plus is a
cutting-edge, advanced appetite suppressant, metabolism booster,
fat burner and energy enhancer all in one. This is a supplement if
you are looking for more than just an appetite suppresent.
Click here to learn more
|Hoodia Balance contains 750MG of
pure certified Hoodia Gordonii from the Kalahari Desert. This
product will not give you the added benefit of Energy but is a
great appetite suppresant.
Click here to learn more
|Hoodia Chaser is quickly
absorbed into your body and starts working immediately to curb
your appetite. Just a few drops of the Hoodia Chaser liquid
extract will provide a more potent and effective dose of Hoodia.
Click Here to learn more