Consumer Reports on supplement risks: the dirty dozen

rusty_blackhaw(6a)August 5, 2010

Consumer Reports in its latest issue is taking on risky supplements with poor evidence of effectiveness (most of them herbs). The ones CR advises people to avoid due to links to serious side effects are:

Aconite

Bitter orange

Chaparral

Colloidal silver

Coltsfoot

Comfrey

Country mallow

Germanium

Greater celandine

Kava

Lobelia

Yohimbe

A USA Today editorial points out continued problems with our watered-down regulatory system that permits "dietary supplements" to be marketed without evidence of safety and efficacy, and the extreme difficulty in getting dangerous ones (either due to intrinsic hazards or adulteration with unlabeled toxic substances) taken off the market.

Unfortunately, powerful industry influences and the protection of politicians like Utah's Orrin Hatch keep regulation weak - making it important that we all stay well-informed about the risks and benefits (if any) of these products.

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veganlorrie

I have used at least half of those safely and with success. I feel that the F.D.A. and big pharmacutical companies work hard everyday to give good helpful herbs a bad name because they are NOT MAKING MONEY from them. I wish they would let the people of this democracy make their own health decisions and stay out of their medicine cabinets!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 2:20PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

The article warning the public against using these supplements was published in Consumer Reports, a privately-run magazine not affiliated with the FDA or drug companies, and which does not accept advertisements.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 3:11PM
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neohippie(8b)

Thanks for the list. I think the government should AT LEAST regulate them to the point of making sure that the herbs aren't adulterated with ineffective or even toxic substances. That's just TOTALLY NOT COOL. If you are buying an herb, it should be 100% THAT HERB that's on the label.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 11:44AM
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silversword(9A)

I agree neo.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 1:11PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

The contamination/adulteration problem seems to be especially bad with imported ingredients, i.e. from China (and supplement sellers often don't say where their ingredients come from or have any control over their formulation).

Here's a summary of some recent cases (and recalls) where supplements were found to be adulterated with prescription drugs. What typically happens is that people get sick, and only then are the products tested and the adulteration discovered.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:44PM
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