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May 2014

Garcina Cambogia Supplements Linked to Serotonin Toxicity

Mixing over-the-counter Garcina cambogia supplements with commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs might cause serotonin toxicity, according to a recent case report.

Garcinia cambogia is a diminutive purple fruit native to India and Southeast Asia. Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is the main constituent (10-30%) of the dried fruit rind and is widely used as a popular dietary supplement for weight loss. HCA is the active ingredient in several over-the-counter weight loss products such as CitriMax® and Citrin®. HCA has been shown to induce weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat metabolism, as well as increasing serotonin concentrations.

In a recent report, a 35 year-old woman was admitted to the emergency room with stuttering speech, sweating, high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. It was reported that she was taking 20 milligrams of escitalopram, an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class, for over one year. She also reported taking a Garcinia cambogia weight loss supplement daily for the past 2-3 months. She was ultimately diagnosed with serotonin toxicity.

While the authors noted that there is no definitive proof that Garcinia cambogia caused the toxicity, research suggests that Garcinia cambogia increases serotonin concentrations, and she had been taking SSRI antidepressants alone for over one year without developing these symptoms. There is also the possibility that the supplements might have been contaminated as the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA.

For more information about Garcinia cambogia, please visit Natural Standard’s Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Lopez AM, Kornegay J, Hendrickson RG. Serotonin Toxicity Associated with Garcinia cambogia Over-the-counter Supplement. J Med Toxicol. 2014 Apr 4.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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