Deep inside the African Kalahari desert grows a cactus called
Hoodia Gordonii. It thrives in extremely high temperatures, and takes years to mature.
The San Bushmen of the Kalahari, one of the world's oldest and most primitive
tribes, first discovered it and had been eating Hoodia for thousands of years, to stave off hunger
during long hunting trips.
Then, when South African scientists were routinely testing it, they discovered the
plant contained a previously unknown molecule, called P57 which worked to fool
the brain into feeling full.
Hoodia is really a succulent plant vs. a cactus, while it does
look like your typical spiny cactus, the Hoodia plant has succulent
flowers unlike cactus. The Hoodia genus encompasses a number of varieties of plant of which
Hoodia gordonii is one species.
Hoodia and the San Bushmen
For many centuries the San bushmen of the Kalahari desert have
used Hoodia plants as a food. The species Hoodia gordonii was less often
used because of its lingering bitter taste being considered unpleasant. However,
in times of hardship, or being away from familiar areas, it was sometimes