Supplement Safety - Dietary Supplement Information

Supplement Safety

Supplement safety is not a goal it is every webmasters responsibility that deals with dietary supplement information or products. We are a true believer in the benefits of health supplements. Unless you are a nutritionist eating a perfect diet a multivitamin can help you stay healthy. Other supplements can help women and men at different times in their lives or those with less than perfect lifestyles (99.9%). The dietary supplement industry in the U.S. is scary to say the least and tragic at its outer bounds. Changes have been made to this website and will continue to be made as new supplement safety issues arise.

Understanding the supplement industry in the U.S. is a lesson in frustration. The FDA is responsible for supplement safety and regulating the industry. This would work out just fine except for a few major problems. Unlike drugs which require pre-approval and testing prior to introduction, supplements can only be removed after introduction. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to prove that a drug is safe but it is the FDA’s responsibility to prove that a supplement is unsafe. To prove a supplement is unsafe requires years of gathering evidence. New supplements are only required to send a copy of their label to the FDA. On top of all of this the supplement division of the FDA is under funded.

Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act

The FTC is able to stop false advertising but even their hands are tied with supplement safety issues. The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act give the FDA and the FTC their power to regulate the supplement industry. The first flaw in the act is that any supplement being sold prior to the act is considered safe. It also states that manufacturers must prove their claims for any supplement but it doesn’t require them to show anybody the documentation. Warning labels are not required on supplements as they are on drugs. A company cannot claim that their product does something that it really doesn’t. However, they can say it affects a function of your body.

An example:
They can’t say supplement X prevents cancer
They can say supplement X affects a function of your body that is known to cause cancer such as ‘antioxidants’

We spend many hours each week researching health supplement issues. Much of that time is spent poring through government information. We’re sad to report that there is very little said about the legislative problems with supplement safety issues. Perhaps government employees are prohibited from complaining on government websites.

This is understandable since Congress has actually interfered with the FDA and its ability to control the industry. In 1997 Congress and the supplement lobbyists prevented the FDA from banning ephedra. It took until December of 2003 to ban this supplement used in diet formulas. And this was accomplished only after even the major supplement lobbyists stopped defending ephedra. Lives depend on supplement safety. Stay informed.

Natural? Herbal? … Really?

The word ‘NATURAL’ is very misleading and is being removed from this website. Natural leads people to think that it is safe. This is NOT true. Arsenic and hemlock are natural but we doubt anyone considers them safe. What about the word ‘HERBAL’? It sounds very safe but is it? A simple but loud NO is the answer. Aristolochic acid comes from a wild vine but has been proven to cause kidney failure and is a known carcinogenic.

For those women that may believe We are over stating our concern for supplement safety let us give you some interesting numbers. In 2002 consumers in the U.S. spent 76 million dollars on 3 dangerous supplements. These supplements are andrastenedione which the FDA has told manufacturers to stop making, kava for which the FDA has issued warnings to consumers, and yohimbe which has had more than a few adverse reports sent to the FDA.

We are proactive on the supplement safety issue

In an effort to be proactive on the supplement safety issue we are adding the following list of dangerous supplements to this website. These supplements are still available in your local store or on the internet. As information becomes available about other dangerous supplements for sale they to will be added.

The following supplement safety issues are enough for us to inform you about them. Be an educated health consumer.

*Aristolochic Acid: Causes kidney failure and is a carcinogenic

Also known as birthwort, snakeroot, sangree root, sangrel, serpentary, serpenteria, and wild ginger
Sold as a Chinese herbal product under the names fang ji, mu tong, ma dou ling, and mu xiang
FDA warning issued April, 2001
Banned in 10 countries

*Comfrey: Causes liver damage

Also known as ass ear, black root, bruisewort, consolidate radix, consound, gum plant, healing herb, knitback, knitbone, salsify, slippery root, symphytum, radix, and wallwort
FDA advised industry to remove it from the market in July, 2001

*Androstenedione: Decrease HDL cholesterol, Increases cancer risk

Also known as 17-dione, andro, and androstene
FDA warned companies to stop marketing and selling it in March, 2004

*Chaparra: Causes liver damage-often irreversible

Also known as creosote bush, greasewood, hediondilla, jarilla, and larreastat
FDA issued warning in December 1992

*Germander: Causes liver damage-often irreversible

Also known as wall germander, and wild germander
Banned in France and Germany

*Kava: Causes liver damage-often irreversible

Also known as ava, awa, gea, gi, intoxicating pepper, kao, kavain, kawa-pfeffer, kew, long pepper, malohu, maluk, meruk, milik, rauschpfeffer, sakau, tonga, wurzelstock, yagona, and yangona
FDA issued warning in March, 2002, banned in 6 countries

*Bitter Orange: Causes high blood pressure; increased risk of heart arrythmias, heart attack, and stroke

Also known as green orange, kijitsu, neroli oil, Seville orange, shangzhou zhiqiao, sour orange, zhi oiao, and zhi xhi
No warnings YET

*Organ/glandular extracts: Risk of mad cow disease

Also known as gland ‘substance’ or ‘concentrate’
FDA banned its use in older cows inJanuary, 2004, still in use for cows under 30 months old, banned in France and Switzerland

*Lobelia: Causes Breathing difficulty, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, diarrhea, dizziness, and tremors

Also known as asthma weed, bladderpod, emetic herb, gagroot, lobelie, indian tobacco, pukeweed, vomit wort, and wild tobacco
Banned in Bangladesh and Italy

*Pennyroyal oil: Causes Liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, convulsions, abdominal tenderness, and burning of the throat

Also known as lurk-in-the-ditch, mosquito plant, piliolerial, pudding grass, pulegium, run-by-the-ground, squaw balm, squawmint, stinking balm, and tickweed
No warnings YET

*Scullcap: Causes liver damage

Also known as blue pimpernel, helmet flower, hoodwort, mad weed, mad-dog herb, mad-dog weed, quaker bonnet, scutelluria, and skullcap
No warnings YET

*Yohimbe: Causes Change in blood pressure, heart arrythmias, respiratory depression, and heart attack

Also known as johimbi, yohimbehe, and yohimbine
No warnings yet

Read the label on all supplements.
Your health and possibly your life depend on it.