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Can garcinia cambogia lead to high lipase levels?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on April 5, 2023.

I had what the doctor thought was pancreatitis awhile ago. My lipase levels had gotten above 400. Didn't think of it then but wondered if it could have been caused by the garcinia cambogia that I have been taking. I would like some answers about how the drug actually works and if it could have led to the increased lipase?

Official answer


Whether or not Garcinia Cambogia (GC) can induce high lipase levels is unknown, but possible. It is important to remember that products labelled as “natural” or herbal are not unquestionably safe. Any herbal remedy classified as a dietary supplement in the United States is regulated as a food product, which means it has not been subjected to the same requirements for safety or efficacy as medicines. If GC was the only supplement you were taking, then it is highly likely that it was responsible for your reported high lipase levels, particularly if these returned to normal after discontinuation.

Lipase is an enzyme secreted by the pancreas that helps breakdown fats to fatty acids and glycerol or other alcohols. Normal lipase levels range from 12-70 U/L but can vary from laboratory to laboratory. Lipase levels may be increased as a result of pancreatic or stomach problems, gall bladder infections, or kidney failure. People who drink too much alcohol, who are obese, with gall bladder stones or high triglyceride levels or who have a family history of pancreatitis are more at risk of having increased pancreatic enzymes.

Any weight-reducing effects of Garcinia Cambogia (GC) have been attributed to hydroxycitric acid (HCA), the active ingredient extracted from the rind of the fruit. In a laboratory, HCA inhibits an enzyme called citrate lyase, interfering with fat metabolism. However, it has never been proven that this effect occurs to any appreciable extent once GC is inside the human body.

In fact, few good quality studies have been conducted using GC. The majority have been of less than 12 weeks’ duration and in small numbers of people. Several reviews of GC have failed to find any significant effects on weight loss. Documented side effects include liver toxicity, stomach upset, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea.

Until evidence suggests that GC is beneficial for weight loss, we recommend people trying to lose weight increase their activity level; avoid alcohol and added sugar; and eat more vegetables, whole grains, and less red meat; rather than take GC supplements.


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