An overview of Herb and dietary supplement efficacy, safety and government regulations in the United States with suggested improvements. [Food Chemistry Toxicology Nov 3, 2016]
This is the first of five review articles investigating dietary supplements (DS; includes herbs) that now exceed over 50,000 in the Office of Dietary Supplement’s “Dietary Supplement Label Database.” Four review articles follow summarizing published medical case reports of DS related to liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, heart toxicity, and cancer. The most popular DS were vitamin or mineral supplements (43%) followed by specialty supplements (20%), botanicals (herbs; 20%), and sports supplements (16%). The 2013 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers revealed 1692 fatalities due to drugs and zero deaths due to DS. Less than 1 percent of Americans experience adverse events related to DS, and the majority was classified as minor, with many of these related to caffeine, yohimbe, or other stimulant ingredients. The number one adulterant in DS is drugs, followed by New Dietary Ingredients (NDI) not submitted to the FDA – both are illegal and not DS, but rather “tainted products marketed as dietary supplements.” The three main categories of DS prone to medical problems are those for sexual enhancement, weight loss, and sports performance/body building.