Weight loss supplements sold online do not always contain the ingredients listed on the label, and in some cases can lead to harmful consequences, a new study has found.
In the study, published this week in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers investigated a case of poisoning in which a 23-month-old child ingested his mother’s diet pills.
The mother had purchased a weight loss supplement online and was led to believe that the supplement contained tejocote root, an ingredient frequently sold on social media and elsewhere on the internet. researchers say. After ingesting this product, her child began experiencing nausea and vomiting. At the hospital, the child also developed slow heart rate and low blood pressure.
The emergency physician called the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System and administered an overdose antidote as directed. After another 12 hours, the patient was given the antidote again and her levels returned to normal.
Based on this experience with possibly mislabeled pills, the study authors, one of whom is a physician with the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, decided to investigate, according to the report. They tested 10 products sold online claiming to contain tejocote root, including the product purchased by the patient’s mother.
Of these 10 products, 9 did not contain Tejocote root and instead contained 100% yellow oleander, a substance known to be toxic. His one product, which did not contain yellow oleander, also did not contain tejocote root.
“These readily available dietary supplements appeared to be mislabeled when tested,” the study authors wrote. “Instead, they contained toxic substances that were of concern to both clinicians and public health officials.”
A previous case report found that a weight loss supplement labeled tejocort root caused similar symptoms in a 16-year-old girl who was taking her mother’s supplement. Afterwards, she became drowsy, began vomiting and diarrhea, and her heart rate slowed significantly, according to a 2019 case study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that a weight loss supplement labeled “Nues de la India” also contained yellow oleander, which sent at least one person to the hospital. “Ingestion of yellow oleander can cause adverse neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular health effects that can be serious or even fatal,” the FDA says.
Those symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- Changes in heart rate or abnormal heart rate
Dietary supplements, including those marketed for weight loss purposes, cannot be tested by the FDA for safety or effectiveness or to ensure that they contain what the label says before they are sold. Because there are no prescription drugs, they are not regulated in the same way as prescription drugs. To consumers. Instead, that responsibility lies with the companies that manufacture and sell the supplements.
The FDA has previously warned consumers about this issue, particularly when it comes to weight loss and male enhancement supplements. The agency recently tested about 70 products sold by major online retailers and found that many did not contain what they claimed or contained active ingredients not listed on the label. There was found.
The FDA urges people to be careful when taking new supplements and to avoid supplements that claim miraculous health benefits such as preventing or curing disease. The FDA says it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any new pills or supplements, even if you think they’re safe because you can buy them over the counter.