Deceptive issue in herb supplement market

We learned from GAO (United States Government Accountability Office) on May 2010 that some herb supplement retailers and manufactories had misled the elderly to purchase herb supplement with potential risk, for example, ginkgo biloba supplement were introduced to someone who were taking aspirin, which may increase the bleeding risk if taking them both at same time. Some retailers suggested customer to discard the medicine that customer was taking for specific disease, but urged to replaced with dietary supplement for curing purpose. It is obviously disobey the FDA rules printed on the label in the supplement package: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  

You can find the detail investigation information from youtube here.

And here is the report from GAO, who is taking the responsibility to monitor how each of the tax dollars are spent, it’s an independent agency working as a “watchdog”. The report titled with “Herbal Dietary Supplements: Examples of Deceptive or Questionable Marketing Practices and Potentially Dangerous Advice” which covered some common herb supplements on the market, such as garlic, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, Echinacea, fish oil, etc. From the report, it was not just the misinformation from the seller, also found that 37 of the 40 herb supplements were found out trace amount of at least one heavy metal after testing, e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, even pesticide residues.

Almost 6 years goes by, do we have improvement on the herb supplement market?

According to one review report from Consumerlab on February 2016, for the Echinacea supplement: one of the Echinacea product contains traceable lead among the 16 supplements products, Nature’s Sunshine Echinacea was revealed contained 2.2 mcg of lead per daily serving. It exceeded the California Prop 65 limit for lead, which have to labeling a warning in the product if exceed the limitation in this state.

Fish oil, one of the supplements may contains potentially heavy metals or PCBs that will be huge risk for adult and child, especially if one woman need a best fish oil for pregnancy. The testing on April 2016 for fish oil supplements by Consumerlab, revealed that none of the fish oil supplement contains Mercury among the 30 products, it reminds that Mercury has never been found in fish oil supplement, it is a potential issue in fish meat which can damage the nervous system particularly in a fetus.

For the PCBs in fish oil, Consumerlab found the dose are always at extremely low levels.

We’re glad to see above improvement as mentioned above, but we will watch closely to the supplement market to ensure the best benefits for our customer.