No substitute for truth: Study finds herbal suppliments are fake too
Used as substitutes for pharmaceuticals, herbal supplements are often fake, even harmful.
America is obsessed with drugs, an obsession that costs billions each year, leads to the contamination of water supplies, and doesn't always equate to better health. In an effort to combat this trend, herbal supplements have gained popularity as a route to better health that does not include drugs, unfortunately, those supplements now appear to be mostly junk.
Powdered nuts, rice, wheat and soy often combine with random weeds, laxatives, and mass quantities of caffeine, to create the herbal supplements many people consume daily.
The study suggests that the herbal supplement industry, a $5 billion per year business in the United States, may be selling people placebos rather than actual supplements. Even in cases where the supplements are genuine, doctors often say the dosages are too low, or too ineffective to have significant impact.
The active ingredient in virtually all of your weight loss supplements also tends to be caffeine--an intuitive choice, since caffeine works as an appetite suppressant. However, it's not often found on the label since the law allows manufacturers to substitute ingredients such as "guarana, green tea or yerba mate" which functionally means caffeine.
Naturally, the herbal supplement industry is lashing out against the report.
Canadian researchers performed their study by purchasing supplements from both the United States and Canada. They focused on popular brands, but did not disclose which brands they selected. They say the brand selection process in each store was also random.
The samples were then subjected to DNA barcoding, a form of DNA testing that reveals what organic substances are truly made of.
Taken from drugstore shelves were bottles of Echinacea, among others. Echinacea is a popular supplement used to ward off colds. The study found that the pills, which were supposed to contain actual Echinacea, actually contained Parthenium hysterophorus, an invasive weed that can actually cause rashes, nausea, and intestinal gas.
Two bottles of St. John's Wort, used to treat mild depression, contained absolutely none of the herb.
One bottle was filled with powdered rice. Another bottle with an herb known to be effective as a laxative. Bottles of Ginko bilboa, taken for memory improvement, were filled with powdered black walnut-not a problem, unless you're allergic to nuts.
According to the study, they tested 44 supplements and a full third of the random selection were outright frauds, containing zero of the herb on the label. Many others had filler ingredients that were not listed on the labels. People with gluten allergies could be in danger because the fillers could sometimes contain gluten, yet make no mention on the label.
This suggests that the herbal supplement industry is plagued with major quality control issues. Furthermore, manufacturers know this, and peddle their products anyway, relying on diet fads, multi-level marketing schemes, and loose labeling laws that permit them to charge you, the consumer, big money in exchange for powdered rice, wheat, or soybeans, or even potentially harmful substances, and of course, caffeine that's just labeled as an exotic herb.
These findings add to a growing conundrum in the United States. The food, medicine, and herbs Americans consume are still poorly labeled and poorly regulated. Manufactures are fond of using fillers, farmers are compelled to use pesticides, ranchers hormones, and more. The end result is that many Americans have little idea what they're actually putting inside their bodies every day because they are being lied to by every major industry.
There are plenty of substitutes for meat, medications, and herbs. However, there is no substitute for truth.
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