Avoid These Dangerous “Natural” Supplements

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On a daily basis, clients come to me with bottles of supplements (sometimes bags full of them), and ask me if I think they are any good. In almost every case my answer is, “I don’t know.” Sure, I can look at the label and see what it says is in there. But there is absolutely no way for any of us to know if what is listed on the label is what is actually in the capsules. News last week proves my point.

On Monday, Feb 2, 2015 the New York State Attorney General’s office announced the results of their investigation into popular supplements. They tested top-selling store brand herbal supplements from GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. Four out of five of the products tested did not contain any of the herbs listed on their labels!

Not only that, many of the supplements contained contaminants or fillers that were not listed on the label. For example, Walmart’s ginkgo biloba contained powdered radish, houseplants, and wheat. Mind you, the label specifically claimed the product was wheat- and gluten-free. Can you imagine the problems this could cause a person or animals with a wheat or gluten allergy? Who would suspect the supplement?

The New York State Attorney General’s investigation was inspired by a previous study by researcher from the University of Guelph. In October of 2013, they published the results of their analysis of 44 herbal products sold by 12 companies. Only two of the companies provided authentic products without substitutions, contaminants, or fillers.

Almost 60% of the herbal products contained plant species not listed on the label. They discovered product substitution in 32% of the samples. More than 20% of the products included fillers such as rice, soybeans, and wheat not listed on the label. The researchers stated, “We found contamination in several products with plants that have known toxicity, side effects, and/or negatively interact with other herbs, supplements, and medications.”

When it comes to supplements, I have no way of knowing/recommending supplements that have been obtained from outside sources. On the other hand, I do fully trust the supplements that I carry.

  1. I have meticulously researched all of the companies.
  2. I have visited the manufacturing facilities of some of them.
  3. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on my patients.
  4. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on myself and my pets.
  5. I have seen and personally experienced their effectiveness.

Ultimately, choosing a supplement comes down to trust. None of us can oversee the harvesting of the herbs, their processing, or their packaging. But, how do you know which company to trust? For me it all comes down to my experience with the company and their products.

Do you trust the supplements you give your pets? Why?


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