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Regulate supplements: Herald Tribune Editorial Dec. 27, 2013

Regulate supplements: Herald Tribune Editorial Dec. 27, 2013

As our patients and readers of the Kaizen Total Wellness blog already know, I have been on this bandwagon for years! Supplements are often useless, not regulated properly, and generally not beneficial!! Much has been written lately confirming my opinions – and the following editorial in the Herald Tribune states it thoroughly and clearly!

A portion of this editorial has been printed here. To read the entire editorial, go to this link:

Published: Friday, December 27, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.


Dietary supplements, whose makers make health-related claims ranging from mundane to miraculous, are a $32 billion industry in the United States.

Yet, since a deregulation law was passed in 1994 and signed by then-President Bill Clinton, supplements that include potent drugs or fillers largely escape inspection by the Food and Drug Administration — until users become sick or die.

Emerging evidence

New data — released last month and reported Sunday by the New York Times — suggests that dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries in hospitalized patients. That percentage is up from 7 percent a decade ago.

The Times told the story of a 17-year-old Texas boy who had taken a concentrated green tea extract, purchased at a nutrition store and labeled as a “fat burner.” The boy’s liver had sustained so much damage that a transplant was required.

Since the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed nearly two decades ago, physicians, researchers and the FDA have steadily reported adverse reactions and issued warnings about supplements. For example:

• In November, the Times reported that Canadian researchers used DNA testing to check the ingredients of 44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 companies. In one-third of the bottles, the tests showed not a single trace of the herb listed on the bottle label. Others were mixed with filler ingredients not listed on the label.

• In April, U.S. regulators found that “workout-booster” and “fat-burning” products sold as Jack3d and OxyElitePro contained a stimulant called dimethyamyamine (DMAA). The stimulant was linked to heart problems, high blood pressure and at least five deaths (reporting remains sketchy and likely underestimates the problems).

• In 2011, investigators found Pai You Gho — a weight-loss supplement from China that contained two drugs, including a suspected carcinogen — on store shelves, even though the product was recalled in 2009.

• In 2009, the FDA issued a public warning about the “Xtreme” line of body-building products, which improperly contained synthetic steroids. StarCaps, made in Peru and promoted as an all-natural weight-loss supplement, was found to contain bumetanide, a potent diuretic. Hydrocut, another supposed fat burner, was recalled after the FDA linked its use to liver and muscle damage and heart problems.

At the time, the FDA warned that 70 brands of pills illegally contained prescription-drug ingredients.

• In 2004, the FDA banned the use of supplements containing ephedra, a class of natural, amphetamine-like substances found in plants. Unfortunately, the ban didn’t occur until after the administration cited “substantial evidence of harm,” based on a study that showed “more than 16,000 adverse events associated with the use of ephedra-containing dietary supplements, including heart palpitations, tremors and insomnia.”

The dangers of such products made national headlines in February 2003 when a Major League Baseball player — attempting to lose weight during spring training — died after using ephedra three times per day. (Ironically, after 2004, Hydroxycut created a whole line of “ephedra-free” products.)

For the rest of the editorial, you can find it in the Dec. 27,  2013 edition of the Herald Tribune or click on this link: