Garcinia cambogia, Either Alone or in Combination With Green Tea, Causes Moderate to Severe Liver Injury

Published:August 13, 2021DOI:

      Background & Aims

      Garcinia cambogia, either alone or with green tea, is commonly promoted for weight loss. Sporadic cases of liver failure from G cambogia have been reported, but its role in liver injury is controversial.


      Among 1418 patients enrolled in the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) from 2004 to 2018, we identified 22 cases (adjudicated with high confidence) of liver injury from G cambogia either alone (n = 5) or in combination with green tea (n = 16) or Ashwagandha (n = 1). Control groups consisted of 57 patients with liver injury from herbal and dietary supplements (HDS) containing green tea without G cambogia and 103 patients from other HDS.


      Patients who took G cambogia were between 17 and 54 years, with liver injury arising 13–223 days (median = 51) after the start. One patient died, one required liver transplantation, and 91% were hospitalized. The liver injury was hepatocellular with jaundice. Although the peak values of aminotransferases were significantly higher (2001 ± 1386 U/L) in G cambogia group (P < .018), the median time for improvement in total bilirubin was significantly lower compared with the control groups (10 vs 17 and 13 days; P = .03). The presence of HLA-B∗35:01 allele was significantly higher in the G cambogia containing HDS (55%) compared with patients because of other HDS (19%) (P = .002) and those with acute liver injury from conventional drugs (12%) (P = 2.55 × 10–6).


      The liver injury caused by G cambogia and green tea is clinically indistinguishable. The possible association with HLA-B∗35:01 allele suggests an immune-mediated mechanism of injury. Clinical number: NCT00345930.

      Graphical abstract


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), DILIN (Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network), HCA (hydroxycitric acid), HDS (herbal and dietary supplements)
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