Before buying the next miracle cure for weight loss, joint pain, or intestinal distress, ask yourself, is it heart-smart to take a dietary supplement you know nothing about?

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US for both men and women.

In the last few years, some truly unexpected drug compounds that cause heart ailments have turned up in herbal dietary supplements despite claims to be “safe and all natural.” To honor American Heart Month, take the pledge to guard your heart by being a smart shopper and only taking dietary supplements when you know the ingredients are safe.

Learn more about the top three herbal supplement ingredients that are neither natural nor herbal.

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Before buying the next miracle cure for weight loss, joint pain, or intestinal distress, ask yourself, is it heart-smart to take a dietary supplement you know nothing about?

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US for both men and women. To honor American Heart Month, take the pledge to guard your heart by being a smart shopper and only taking dietary supplements when you know the ingredients are safe.

In the last few years, some truly unexpected drug compounds have turned up in dietary supplements that cause heart ailments, despite their claims to be “safe and all natural.”

 

HERBAL WEIGHT LOSS MEDICATIONS THAT CAN CAUSE HEART ATTACKS

YouLose_75Doctors recommend maintaining a healthy weight to prevent heart disease. However some dietary supplements contain a withdrawn medication that causes serious heart events, including heart attack, stroke and death. Sibutramine was removed from the US market in 2010 because an FDA trial of the drug “demonstrated a 16 percent increase in the risk of serious heart events, including non-fatal heart attack, non-fatal stroke, the need to be resuscitated once the heart stopped, and death, in a group of patients given sibutramine compared with another given placebo.” Additionally the weight loss difference between the placebo group and the group that received sibutramine was minimal.

Yet despite the dangers of the medication, sibutramine still turns up in the weight-loss marketplace on a regular basis. Since 2012, the FDA has posted recall notices on 15 different “herbal” dietary weight loss supplements that in fact contained dangerous levels of sibutramine.

With names like Slimdia, Shaping Beauty, Svelte 30, and Slim Xtreme Herbal Slimming, these supplements are marketed online as “natural” alternatives to traditional weight loss treatments. Nothing in their product descriptions or ingredients list warns the consumer that they are in fact taking a dangerous banned pharmaceutical.

Another banned drug has appeared in weight loss supplements. Fenfluramine is a stimulant drug withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1997 after studies demonstrated that it caused serious heart valve damage. According to Michael A. Friedman, M.D., the Lead Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, “The data we have obtained indicates that fenfluramine, and the chemically closely related Dexfenfluramine, present an unacceptable risk at this time to patients who take them.”

But despite its danger, fenfluramine has also shown up as an ingredient in so-called “natural” weight loss supplements even 13 years after it was banned. In 2010, the FDA warned of a widely available dietary supplement called Que She Herbal that contained both fenfluramine as well as sibutramine.

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NATURAL STOMACH FLU REMEDIES YOU SHOULDN’T SWALLOW

Injectable medications can’t just be swallowed. In the case of chloramphenicol, it’s a legitimate and safe injectable medication used under doctor’s supervision in the case of serious infection when
antibiotics cannot be used, according to the National Institute of Health. However it is banned in its oral form in the United States due to “the risk of serious and life threatening injuries.” And yet it’s an ingredient in an oral supplement marketed for gastrointestinal infections.

The most serious and life-threatening injury associated with oral chloramphenicol treatment is bone marrow toxicity, which occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and/or platelets” according to the FDA.

In September 2012, the FDA issued a safety alert about Intestinomicina, a dietary supplement produced in El Salvador, marketed for gastrointestinal infections. The warning was issued not only because it contained chloramphenicol, but also its labeling indicated in contained topical antibiotics, which are also not safe for ingesting.

DEATHLY HERBAL ARTHRITIS SUPPLEMENTS

TheBloodCell_75Diclofenac sodium is a prescription non-steroidal antiinflamatory (NSAID), which is used in very specific conditions for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. If prescribed by your doctor, it can be a safe treatment when carefully administered.

But it’s not safe to take this medication without doctor’s supervision, and especially not safe to take it unwittingly in a so-called natural remedy. Doctor supervision is essential in order to prevent serious and sometimes fatal side effects from diclofenac sodium, such as heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulceration, and fatal perforation of the stomach and intestines, according to the FDA.

Diclofenac sodium was the primary ingredient in a “natural” dietary supplement for arthritis pain called Reumofan or Reumofan Plus. In their statement to the public about the dangers of Remoufan and Remoufan Plus, the FDA described how they have “received reports of fatalities, stroke, severe bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract (including the esophagus, stomach and intestines), dizziness, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), high blood sugar levels and problems with liver and kidney functions, as well as corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome.”

Diclofenac sodium reappeared in the dietary supplement marketplace in December of 2012, with Remoufan Plus having been repackaged as a product called Wow, according to the FDA. On February 19th, the FDA issued a recall on Remoufan products.

If you are someone who wishes to take dietary supplements, please follow the FDA’s Tips for the Savvy Supplement User and find the answers to these questions before ingesting:

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Who is selling the supplements?

What is the purpose of the website selling the supplements?

What is the source of information for the supplements and do they have any references?

Is the information about the supplements current?

How reliable is the Internet or email solicitation for the supplements?

Also always remember that if a promise or price sounds too good to be true, you are better off not buying.

By S. Imber