Illegal Ingredients in Herbal Supplements Pose Health Risk, Experts Warn | Health

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Many herbal supplements, including those for obesity and erectile dysfunction, contain unauthorized hidden pharmaceutical ingredients that could endanger people’s health, experts have warned.

The research team, from Queen’s University Belfast, Kingston University in London, and life science testing firm LGC, concluded that not only do these supplements often make unverified claims about to their benefits, but that some contain illegal ingredients that could pose a threat – potentially causing low blood pressure or increased risk of heart attacks.

The substances are illegal drugs because they appear in products classified as food supplements. Among the most commonly identified substances, sibutramine, according to the study, published in the Journal of the Association of Public Analysts.

Sibutramine was licensed under the drug name Reductil until 2010, when it was withdrawn in Europe and the United States due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with it. drug use.

Tadalafil and sulfoaildenafil were among the most frequently undeclared ingredients in erectile dysfunction products. When taken with other medicines that contain nitrates, they can significantly lower blood pressure and cause serious health problems.

Queen’s University Professor Emeritus Duncan Burns Institute for World Food Security, said, “We have found that these supplements are often not what customers think they are – they are tricked into thinking that they are getting health benefits from a natural product when in reality they are. are taking a hidden drug.

“These products are unlicensed drugs and many people consume large amounts of them without knowing the interactions with other supplements or drugs they may be taking. It is very dangerous and there can be serious side effects.

The research team analyzed the negative results recorded by the European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) between 2009 and 2016 inclusive. The database is designed to inform Member States who can then take appropriate action at local level. Consumers can access the database but, unlike authorities in Member States, they often cannot see the names of the products.

Experts believe that pharmaceutical ingredients are sometimes added accidentally, but on other occasions deliberately for the purpose of improving products.

They identified 63 cases of food supplements containing sibutramine between 2009 and 2016, including 47 after 2010, when Reductil was withdrawn. During the eight-year period examined, 29 cases of tadalafil were found in dietary supplements and 68 cases of sulfoaildenafil and similar chemicals.

People with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are frequently prescribed drugs containing nitrates. Erectile dysfunction is often associated with these conditions, which suggests that patients may be tempted to try herbal supplements, which they are not aware of contain tadalafil or sulfoaildenafil, which may interact negatively with it. nitrates.

Burns said, “People who take these products will not know that they have taken these substances. Therefore, when they see the doctor, they may not report it and it may be difficult to determine the cause of the side effects. It is a very dangerous situation.

Another common substance was yohimbine, found in 30 supplements, which is said to have aphrodisiac effects, but which increases blood pressure and induces anxiety.

Burns said the RASFF list was probably not exhaustive “unless they go to every health food store and every herbalist across the country.”

He advised consumers, “Be careful with any supplements you buy and use reputable websites. Discuss any concerns with your GP and always tell them what you are taking.


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