Many of the supplements you take every day are not what they seem. They could be spiked with illegal or recalled prescription substances – some even deadly.
In the US, some of our supplements are being spiked with illegal, potentially deadly ingredients from recalled prescription drugs. One of the biggest areas of abuse is in weight loss supplements, including “Natural” pills which are actually laced with drugs! The FDA has issued warnings for hundreds of products, including 20 drug-laced weight loss aids. These unregulated, illegal supplements are everywhere, not just on the internet. People are buying them in local stores, from neighbors or at a local gym, in cities and small towns, even in health food stores.
“Natural” diet pills are not natural at all. They’re actually a chemical made in an illegal factory. Testing has found that lots of times, nine out of ten samples are adulterated. There are fifty million Americans who take these kinds of products. It’s an epidemic.
To understand how outrageous this problem is, one of the dietary supplement samples that Dr Oz’s team purchased and sent out for lab testing contained a powerful drug called Cipro. Cipro is used for infections and to treat anthrax poisoning! Many of the companies who produce these adulterated products are not interested in quality or safety…just the almighty dollar. For example, they may run an illegal batch of Cipro on their machines, there’s no quality control so they don’t clean their machines and then they run a batch of the next drug or supplement and the ingredients get mixed into the next product, and so on. You’re essentially taking a cocktail of drugs in your product.
Many of the supplements contain multiple prescription drugs. Dr Oz’s tested samples found supplements that contain drugs banned in the US because they cause heart attacks, strokes and seizures. This is especially dangerous because these dietary supplements are created on an illegal market so there’s no dosage control and they have found as much as six times the prescription dose in a single diet pill. Certain prescription drugs were found in all of the samples tested and the concentrations of the drugs were way off the charts, so they’re super-potent illegal drugs.
For example, the FDA recently announced a recall of an over-the-counter herbal weight loss product called Que She. Que She is spiked with four different prescription medications, two of which have been removed from the market for safety reasons. And of course, those illegal ingredients are not on the product’s label. Many herbal products have also been found to contain antidepressants, diuretics and analogues (which help to hide the drugs from lab testing.) The analogues have never been tested on humans.
On top of all that, these spiked supplements or their ingredient compounds are coming from Asia, the Pacific Rim, India South America, New Zealand and even from Europe, with the major source being China. The lack of quality and regulations for factories there mean low-grade solvents are often used instead of pharmaceutical grade chemicals to make the drugs. This is another big danger.
What About The FDA?
The FDA does not have the authority to require companies to present data to demonstrate the supplement is safe or effective. Despite this, they still try go after the tainted dietary supplement cases, but part of the challenge is finding the source of the product and the volume of tainted supplements could be overwhelming. In addition, once they identify a supplement is tainted and located the manufacturer, the FDA still must prove a supplement is unsafe through exhaustively testing the product (which is very resource-intensive) before they can remove it from the marketplace. Finally, dietary supplement manufacturers are not required to register their products with the FDA, so they have no conclusive way of knowing exactly how many products are out there.
What Can We Do?
First of all, it’s buyer beware at this point and it’s the responsibility of the consumer to do their homework. Look for the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification on the label, research and/or contact the manufacturer to find out where their product is sourced from, be suspicious of products with labeling that has a lot of foreign language on it and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Finally, we need to get congress to change the laws to require that herbal supplement manufacturers demonstrate safety prior to be allowed on store shelves.
Safety Guide for Buy Supplements:
1. Avoid products that are marketed primarily in a foreign language.
2. Avoid products that don’t have a company name, website or phone number anywhere on the package.
3. Avoid products that make miracle claims like “it works rapidly”, “it works instantly” , “in hours you’ll lose ten pounds”, “no exercise is necessary” etc.
4. Avoid products that claim to have effects similar to a FDA approved prescription drug; that’s a red flag