Can consumption of African bush mango extracts help you lose weight?

Many different dietary supplements are marketed as weight loss supplements, but the evidence for effectiveness is unproven for most. The African bush mango is an herb predominantly found in the west coast of Africa, and belongs to the genus, Irvingia. The fleshy part of the fruit is edible, and the seed is also used in preparation of various dishes. African bush mango extracts have been hailed as the new obesity killer; and it was one of the most popular over-the-counter weight loss pill in the UK in 2011. Results from animal studies have suggested that extracts of the African bush mango can prevent the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids, and reduce fasting blood sugar levels.

To evaluate the effect of African bush mango extracts on body weight and related indices, we did a systematic review of clinical trials examining the effects of Irvingia in overweight and obese human volunteers. We conducted searches in five electronic databases and included only double-blinded randomised clinical trials (RCTs). We also assessed the reporting quality of included studies.

We identified three eligible studies conducted in Cameroon, West Africa, and the total number of participants was 208. The trials lasted between four and 10 weeks. All the RCTs reported significant reductions in body weight and waist circumference with Irvingia compared with placebo. The results from the studies also suggested that Irvingia has beneficial effects on total and LDL cholesterol. Adverse events reported included headache, sleep difficulty and flatulence.

Results of published studies suggest that consumption of African bush mango extract causes beneficial effects on body weight, waist circumference, and LDL and HDL cholesterol. Consumption of the extracts may cause headaches and sleep problems. However, few trials examining the effects of African bush mango have been conducted; they are characterized by flaws in their reporting, confined to one location, conducted by same group of investigators, and published in same journal. Until well designed studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of African bush mango are published, there is no reason to recommend this supplement as a weight loss aid.


·          Onakpoya I, Davies L, Posadzki P, Ernst E.  The efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis supplementation in the management of overweight and obesity: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Diet Suppl 2013; 10(1): 29-38.

Associated media 

·          Nutrient Journal. African Mango for weight loss? Not so fast!

·          Edzard Ernst. Alternative slimming aids are bogus.