Review: African Mango (Irvingia gabonensis) for Weight Loss
Ever since Dr. Oz spoke highly of African mango (also called Irvingia gabonensis) on a September 2010 episode of his television show, we’ve seen an explosion of African mango-based weight loss supplements—especially online.
Retailers are making all the usual claims; fast, natural weight loss, detoxification, plus the lowering of cholesterol levels. This time however, it is different for another reason too; all the claims are supposedly proven by a pile of clinical studies.
Is this it, finally?
Is African mango a real magic pill? The last word in weight loss supplements?
We hate to always be the bearer of bad news. But since it’s our job to prevent you from getting ripped off from every unethical supplement-retailing dirtbag out there, we have to tell you very plainly…
No. It is not.
At least, there`s very good reason to be skeptical of the claims being made for African Mango. Let`s start at the beginning…
As you probably know by now, African Mango (or Irvingia gabonensis) refers to a mango-like fruit common to Africa and south-east Asia that is usually harvested for its seeds/nuts.
It is these that are being used in the treatment of obesity. And, like the retailers of the Irvingia-based weight loss miracles are now claiming, there are more than a few clinical studies indicating that they do offer weight loss benefits.
While this appears to be great news, there is a problem; the lead author in all three of these studies, Julius Oben, has a patent on African Mango / Irvingia gabonensis.
Essentially this means that these studies are being performed by the very person who has the most to gain financially from a positive result. That is a HUGE conflict of interest. And to date, no other third-party, independent studies have confirmed these results.
Julius Oben also has a patent on another weight loss ingredient called Cissus quadrangularis. It just so happens that he is the lead author of numerous positive studies on it too. Incidentally, there have been no independent studies performed on it, either. Call us skeptical, but it seems like Julius Oben has the “Midas-touch” when it comes to discovering weight loss miracles.
So what’s the bottom line?
Until we have independent verification of African mango’s weight loss benefits we won’t be jumping on the bandwagon, and instead, we’re viewing these results with some skepticism. It may be that Dr. Oben’s results are untainted by the motivation for profit, but to assume so without evidence to the contrary would be foolish.
At the same time, Irvingia appears to work as a fiber supplement, and fiber supplements have a documented history of both lowering cholesterol and encouraging weight loss. In a nutshell, they fill you up without adding calories, allowing you to eat less, while feeling full for longer (they do not boost your metabolism or increase thermogenesis like some of the advertising insists). The question then becomes…
Does African mango offer significant benefits over more thoroughly studied, less exotic and affordable sources of fiber—like glucomannan, for instance?
Based on the evidence brought forward to date, and its questionable nature, its difficult to say.
One thing that should factor into whether you try African mango or not is cost.
For instance, if you read the full extract of the study most referenced by retailers, you will see participants took 3 X 350 mg capsules of product prior to each meal (for a total of 3.15 grams of Irvingia extract each day). Most of the retailers selling African mango online via flashy sales pages and unsubstantiated hype do not reveal the potency of their products, but if you check out a reputable retailer like iHerb.com, you will find that Irvingia products are very expensive indeed.
For example, Life Extension’s Integra-Lean Irvingia contains 60 150 mg capsules and costs just over $25 (incidentally, this same product costs over $50 at GNC).
To duplicate the dosage used in the study I just referenced, you’d need to take exactly 7 capsules prior to each of your 3 main meals. That means a single bottle will last you 3 days. Is it worth it to spend $250 for a month’s worth of African mango, when you can experiment with a fiber supplement with demonstrated weight loss effects, like glucomannan—at the appropriate dosage—for $10?
I think you know the answer to that one.
Be extremely wary of products sold online from flashy sales pages adorned with the logos of major news media and quotes from Dr Oz. It’s often impossible to determine who is actually “behind” these companies, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain recourse for crummy products or to file an official complaint.
The companies also rarely reveal how much active ingredient is included in their product, or to what potency it is standardized. As you just saw, it is critical you know how much ingredient you are getting if you’re going to try to duplicate the results demonstrated in the clinical study.
What’s the bottom line here?
Yes, some preliminary, but somewhat questionable evidence suggests African mango may have weight loss effects. However, it’s extremely expensive to experiment with it at an effective dosage. At this time therefore, and until further studies confirm otherwise, we suggest you experiment with other more cost effective and proven solutions—glucomannan is a good option.