Such is the demand for Hoodia in the world today that all Hoodia plants are now protected species in the countries of southern Africa. Furthermore, their status as protected species is recognised by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This means that no one can trade in Hoodia without a CITES permit, the importer as well as the exporter being required to ensure that a CITES permit has been issued.
This measure is being vigorously enforced with the result that authentic Hoodia Gordonii is now one of the most difficult to obtain commodities in the world. Because growing Hoodia is a long process due to the length of time it takes to reach maturity, there is only a limited supply available in the short term and this at a time when demand has soared. However, there is about 3 times the Hoodia being sold in Hoodia supplements today than could possibly be made from the total amount of Hoodia Gordonii being harvested and exported. So how can this be possible?
The first answer to this question is that some products on the market described as Hoodia or Hoodia Gordonii are in reality derived from other species of Hoodia, rather than the genuine Hoodia Gordonii plant as favoured by the Kalahari Bushmen. Since there are over 20 species of Hoodia, some of these other plants are in effect being used as substitutes for the real thing, but unfortunately there is no evidence that they have any appetite suppressing effects. Buyer beware!
The second answer to the question is that some products on the market described as Hoodia or Hoodia Gordonii are not derived from the genuine Hoodia Gordonii plant known to the Kalahari Bushmen, because they are not derived from the Kalahari at all. One way of overcoming the limitation in the supply of genuine Hoodia is to grow Hoodia plants in other locations, China and Mexico being the most common alternatives to the true habitat of the Hoodia. Chinese or Mexican Hoodia not only overcomes the shortage of genuine Hoodia but costs only a fifth of the price, but sadly only the genuine African Hoodia plant has been shown to have a significant appetite suppressing effect. Again, buyer beware!
The final answer to the question is that some products on the market described as Hoodia or Hoodia Gordonii are genuine in the sense that they have real Hoodia Gordonii in them, but the Hoodia has been mixed with other herbs or miscellaneous ingredients in order to reduce the amount of Hoodia required to fill the size of capsule being sold. A certain quantity of pure Hoodia is obviously not comparable to the same quantity of Hoodia mixed with other items, although it probably costs less. Once more, buyer beware!
In conclusion, the scarcity of authentic Hoodia Gordonii combined with the steepling demand for it has resulted in a bigger market for Hoodia products in the short term than can be supplied with the genuine Hoodia available. This has led to a scramble to find Hoodia alternatives, Hoodia substitutes and ways of ekeing out Hoodia, which means that some of the Hoodia products on the market today are inevitably not the real thing. They may be called Hoodia or even Hoodia Gordonii, but they are not derived from the Hoodia Gordonii species, or they are not grown in Africa at all, or they do not contain Hoodia which is 100% pure.