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The Truth About Salacia

Can this ancient herb really help you lose weight and curb hunger?

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Where it comes from: Salacia, often referred to as salacia oblonga, is an herb found in India, Sri Lanka and China. Salacia supplements are sold in capsulated pill form. What it’ll do for you: Salacia has been used for thousands of years to treat diabetes, obesity, gonorrhea, rheumatism, itching and asthma. Recently, it has gained popularity in the U.S. for the prevention of diabetes and obesity. “It is believed that salacia prevents the storage of extra ingested carbohydrates as fat,” explains Barbie Broschart Cervoni MS, RD, CDN, a nutritional counselor. “Other research indicates that salacia may help with blood sugar control in people with diabetes.” Here, a closer look at its key possible benefits:

  • Prevents excess fat storage: Supposedly salacia stops carbohydrates from being absorbed, which prevents the body from storing the extra fuel as fat on the body. “This is believed to be true but research is insufficient,” Broschart Cervoni says. By controlling the carbohydrates in the body after a meal, salacia is also said to prevent a crash later, eliminating hunger and subsequent overeating.
  • Helps control blood sugar: Salacia inhibits the breakdown of oligosaccharides—such as sucrose, maltose, etc.—into monosaccharides—like glucose, mannose, etc.—and inhibits their absorption in the body, preventing blood sugar levels from rising. Studies have shown that 2.5 to 5 grams of salacia is effective in lowering the blood glucose, serum cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing the HDL cholesterol levels of non-insulin dependent diabetes patients.

Suggested intake: “It is not clear what the suggested intake is,” says Broschart Cervoni, noting that dosage should be adjusted based on age, height and weight. However, many supplement containers are printed with the recommended dosage of one 500-milligram pill twice a day, 30 minutes before a meal. Associated risks/scrutiny: “There isn't enough information to know if salacia is safe when used for long periods of time,” warns Broschart Cervoni. It is important to use caution when supplementing with this product if you have diabetes and take blood sugar lowering medications (such as insulin) because salacia may lower blood sugar, causing hypoglycemia. Salacia can cause uncomfortable side effects such as flatulence, belching, pain in the abdomen, nausea and diarrhea in some people.

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