London: A UK company is testing the use of hoodia, a cactus extract that stems hunger pangs, in diet foods.
The trial is being carried out by Phytopharm who will market the products, such as margarine and drinks, with Unilever.
Extracts made from the Hoodia gordonii plant are already a popular dietary supplement and was originally used by Kalahari bushmen of Africa to stave off hunger while on hunting trips.
Cambridge-based Phytopharm plans year-long clinical trials to see if volunteers given the extract in foods find their hunger pangs disappear.
Tests on rats have already found that they loose their appetite when given the active ingredient. ‘We are very excited so far at the success of the project and will take it from here,’ he said.