Dietary Supplement Sales Soar Despite AG Investigation
According to data from the Nutrition Business Journal, herbal and botanical sales grew 7.7% in 2015, despite the New York attorney general investigation publicizing contamination and health concerns in this market. Dietary supplement sales in general grew 6.2%. Furthermore, when asked which category consumers trust most, an NBJ survey found that consumers trust essential oils and supplements more than they trust over-the-counter drugs. Organic goods/Non-GMO products were trusted the most, followed by conventional foods and pharmaceutical drugs. OTC drugs were the least trusted category at less than 5%. These new data suggest that consumers are not being affected by the negative publicity generated from the NY AG investigation.
Natural Medicines CE Program: Obesity
Natural Medicines' new CE/CME program, Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Obesity, is now available. This new Clinical Management Series CE/CME course is designed to help healthcare providers develop a better knowledge base regarding natural medicines used for weight loss. Get the latest data on low-carb vs low-fat diets, and review safety concerns related to weight loss supplements such as bitter orange, DMAA, and many others. Courses are accredited for pharmacists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered dietitians.
Liver Failure and Transplant Needed After Supplement Use
According to a new report, a 26-year-old otherwise healthy Australian man required a liver transplantation following the use of two dietary supplements. The patient had taken a whey protein powder containing green tea and many other ingredients, as well as a weight loss supplement containing 70% Garcinia cambogia for one week. Analytic testing did not identify any contaminants.
In 2009, there were at least 40 cases of liver injury in the U.S. following the use of Hydroxycut weight loss products. The formulation of Hydroxycut products varied, but most of those associated with liver problems contained Garcinia cambogia and green tea. The Norwegian food safety authority has also issued a warning about green tea extract supplements following multiple reports of liver damage.
Smith RJ, Bertilone C, Robertson AG. Fulminant liver failure and transplantation after use of dietary supplements. Med J Aust. 2016 Jan 18;204(1):30-2
Monograph Update: St. John's Wort
Natural Medicines' featured update of the month is St. John's wort. St. John's wort is most commonly used for depression and conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety. Some recent clinical research also suggests that taking a specific St. John's wort extract three times daily for two months significantly reduces the frequency, severity, and duration of hot flashes in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women.
Health Canada Issues Warning for Dangerous Unauthorized Supplements
Health Canada recently issued a warning for products labeled Novadalin B17, Amygdalin, and Bitter Apricot Kernel. According to Health Canada, these products claim to treat cancer with no evidence of benefit. Furthermore, these products contain apricot kernel extract, which may contain amygdalin. This compound can potentially release cyanide in the body when ingested. This can lead to serious side effects, including death. Health Canada advises any consumer who has used these products to stop taking them immediately and to contact a healthcare provider. These products are also available for sale online in the U.S.
DNA of Endangered Snow Leopard and Tiger found in Chinese Medicines
A recent article from the Journal of Forensic Science Medicine highlights the role traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) play in the illegal trade of endangered and threatened wildlife species. Recent testing revealed that 50% of 26 TCM products contained undeclared plant or animal DNA, included DNA of the endangered snow leopard and possibly tiger. Also, 50% of the products contained an undeclared pharmaceutical agent, including warfarin, dexamethasone, and others. The article noted that while some products may be contaminated inadvertently, it is unlikely that an endangered species would be added to a product by accident. While this illegal use certainly has environmental implications, it also poses a direct health risk for humans. In 2009, there was a report of a man who died suddenly after taking the TCM product Chan Su, which contains extracts from a species of toad.
Byard RW. Traditional medicines and species extinction: another side to forensic wildlife investigation. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2016 Jan 22
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