According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, illegal compounds, harmful substances and even illegal drugs can be routinely found in dietary supplements. The Administration found almost 300 different products that they say are “fraudulent,” and which are advertised to unknowing consumers as bringing health benefits ranging from weight loss, to muscle building to sexual enhancement. However, the FDA has warned that these hundreds of drugs all contain either hidden compounds or harmful ingredients that are deceptively labelled. These harmful ingredients include prescription-level drugs and stimulants at levels higher than those found in FDA-approved drugs, as well as synthetic steroids and other compounds that cannot qualify as “dietary” ingredients according to the regulator.
The Director of the FDA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance has warned that these harmful drugs are “masquerading as dietary supplements,” and that although they may appear to be beneficial for your health, they are, in fact, illegal and potentially harmful. In fact, the FDA reported that it has received many claims of health harm caused by these products, including kidney failure, liver injuries, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and even death.
Here is a quick look at the primary culprits to look out for, under the four primary categories of harmful health supplements on the American market: dietary supplements, weight loss supplements, body building supplements and sexual enhancement supplements.
According to the FDA, dietary supplements generally are not FDA-approved. That’s because under a regulation from the 1990’s, manufacturers of dietary supplements are not required to obtain FDA approval before they place their drugs on the market. Instead, it’s the responsibility of the drug manufacturing company—not the U.S. government—to ensure that the products are safe.
The FDA warns that unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to cure disease, prevent disease or treat health issues. Therefore, when a dietary supplement makes that type of claim, consumers should be wary.
Here’s a list from the FDA for dietary supplements that should be avoided:
Acacia Rigidula –
Also known as vachellia rigidula, Chaparro Prieto or “blackbrush,” this supplement can be labeled as a dietary supplement, but the FDA says that it is not aware of any information demonstrating its legality or health advancement. Therefore, the Administration warns that any product containing A. rigidula are adulterated and should be avoided.
The FDA states that drugs containing BMPEA do not qualify as a legal dietary supplements, as drugs containing this compound neither are a vitamin, mineral, herb, botanical or amino acid. Accordingly, the FDA has declared that drugs containing BMPEA are misbranded and misleading. BMPEA can also be known as:
- R-beta-methylphenethylamine HCl
- 2- phenyl-1-propanamine
This is one of the worst substances, according to the FDA, that masquerades as a helpful dietary supplement. Risks of consuming DMAA can include heart attack and more. Even though it’s touted as a “natural” stimulant, it can be a serious health risk, especially when it’s consumed in combination with caffeine. DMAA can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and even heart attack. It is not safe to consume any products that contain this compound, which can sometimes be called “geranium extract,” “pelargonium graveolens extract,” or one of the following chemical names:
- 2-Hexanamine, 4-methyl- (9CI)
The FDA says that it is not aware of any information showing that supplements containing DMBA are lawfully marketed or safe to consume, and therefore the FDA considers them to be illegally adulterated. DMBA can also be known as:
- 2-Amino-4-Methylpentane Citrate
- 4-Amino-2-Methylpentane Citrate
- 4-Amino Methylpentane Citrate
- AMP Citrate
- 4-AMP Citrate
The FDA says that methylsynephrine does not meet the government’s definition of a dietary ingredient because it is not a vitamin, mineral, herb, botanical, or amino acid that supports health. Accordingly, any supplements containing this ingredient are misbranded and should be avoided. This ingredient is also sometimes called “oxilofrine” or “p-hydroxyphedrine.”
The FDA has gone so far as to testify in court that picamilon is not a lawful dietary supplement. Although it’s used as a prescription drug in Russia to treat neurological conditions, it remains unapproved in the U.S. It’s also known as “pikatropin,” “pikamilon,” “nicotinyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid” or “nicotinyl-GAB.”
Pure Powdered Caffeine –
The FDA warns that pure powdered caffeine supplements are dangerous and have caused at least two deaths in the U.S. One teaspoon of this compound is equivalent to the caffeine found in 28 cups of coffee. The powdered form of caffeine can cause serious health issues, including cardiovascular issues, seizures, vomiting, disorientation and death.
Body Building Supplements
Another emerging trend in dangerous supplements is the proliferation of body building supplements, which claim to help you build muscles and muscle mass. But these supplements are often laced with harmful levels of prescription compounds and pharmaceutical ingredients that are untested in humans. The advertising of these supplements, warns the FDA, is usually deceptive and these supplements contain hidden ingredients that can harm your health.
The FDA is warning consumers to avoid certain body building supplements that are on the market, especially those that claim to include steroids or substances that are like steroids. They can cause serious health risks, including injury to your liver. They’ve also been associated with serious reactions including:
- Severe acne
- Hair loss
- Adulterated mood and irritability
- Kidney damage
- Heart attack
- Blood clots in the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism)
- Blood clots that occur in veins deep inside the body (known as deep vein thrombosis)
Sexual Enhancement Supplements
A third area of concern for dietary supplements is those claiming to advance sexual activity and abilities. Oftentimes, the FDA warns, these drugs contain prescription-level compounds that are not approved, untested and unstudied. These hidden ingredients can cause serious health issues, such as cardiovascular issues, prolonged erections, and heart attack.
These harmful sexual supplements are sold under hundreds of labels, which include:
- New Stiff Nights
- Rhino 11, Rhino 12, Rhino 25K and Rhino 69
- Blue Diamond Pill
- Tiger 5000
- Kingdom Honey
- Macho Man 3000
- Super Panther 7K
- Man of Steel
- Monkey Business
- Big N Hard
- Power Male Sexual Stimulant
- Big Penis Male Sexual Stimulant
- Stiff Bull Herbal Coffee
- African Viagra
… and others. For the full list of sexual enhancement supplements that are banned by the FDA, please visit the FDA’s website.