Hoodia or P57AS3 (P57) as its more readily know in the scientific world is and extract from the cactus like plant (Hoodia gordonii). Back in 2004 a study showing an appetite suppressive effect shot the natural weight loss product into the headlines across the world. The UK owners of the license since 1997 “Phytopharm” entered into a $25million dollar deal with global food giants Unilever makers of $500mn brand “Slimfast”. The idea was to launch a slimfast drink with P57 at its core.

Since 2004 much has been written about its copycat products (many not containing real hoodia) and indeed the lack of evidence in human trials to prove that the product even works in humans. In 2007 a trail from a little know South African university seemed to show some proof of efficacy (van Heerden et al. 2007). However, as we run to the end of 2008 still no commercialization of a Hoodia product.

It now seems we have a few answers…

Last week in an anouncement from Phytopharm and Unilever the deal was of as Unilever was pulling out loosing its $25 million investment. Phytopharm state the issue was that P57 broke down (metabolised) too qickly in the slimfast drink. However, speak to unilever and the story is very different.

“Data suggests using the extract would not meet our safety and efficacy standards,” said Unilever global media relations director, Trevor Gorin.

Although Phytopharm are pushing ahead the split does not indicate the brightest of future for the as yet proven extract. The Unilever withdrawl again draws concerns as to weather Hoodia really can deliver on all those marketing products…..




Dr Mark Tallon PhD, RNutr,CBiol, MSB, MIFST holds a first degree with honours in exercise physiology, a Masters degree in nutrition science and a PhD in nutritional biochemistry. Dr Tallon is founder and CSO and Founder of NutriSciences, Inc a consultancy firm specializing in European and Pan-American regulatory compliance of dietary supplements.