Categories

The Benefits and Side Effects of Ginseng

Posted 29 January 2024

What do more than 100 clinical trials on red ginseng, white ginseng, and American ginseng show?
An investigation by Dr Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Read the rest

Researchers warn of hazards of inadequately regulated dietary supplements

Posted 15 Jan 2024

After a review of several databases, researchers with Touro College of Pharmacy and Nova Southeastern University’s College of Pharmacy have identified a total of 79,071 reported adverse events related to the use of dietary supplements. The events were reported to U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) between 2004 and 2021. Their searches for adverse-event reports included the use of vitamin E (vitamin derivative), beta-sitosterol (plant sterol) yohimbine, kava kava, kratom, garcinia cambogia, herbal products, and OxyElite Pro (marketed for weight loss).

Key points made in their paper include:

  • Vitamin E supplementation has documented interaction with several routine medications.
  • Over a thousand adverse events regarding the use of a prostate support supplement called Super Beta Prostate containing beta-sitosterol were reported to CFSAN in the past two decades. Most of the reports involved finding blood in the urine.
  • Poison centers
Read the rest

Is Turmeric Good for You? What We Know About Its Health Benefits

Posted 23 October 2023

A new study concluded that it could be effective at alleviating stomach discomfort. But a lot is unknown.

Turmeric has been used as a spice and medicine for thousands of years. And in recent decades, it’s become popular as a dietary supplement, often sold as curcumin — a chemical compound found in dried turmeric — with claims that it can soothe joint pain, reduce inflammation and improve mobility.

In Thailand, turmeric is also often consumed in its spice or supplement form to quell gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and indigestion, said Dr. Krit Pongpirul, an associate professor of preventive and social medicine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. But only a few small studies have evaluated such benefits.

In a trial published Monday in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, Dr. Pongpirul and his colleagues tested whether curcumin supplements

Read the rest

Does Vitamin C Actually Help Your Skin?

Posted 23 October 2023

SCAM OR NOT: Here’s what dermatologists say about this trendy ingredient.

If you’ve spent time exploring the skin care side of TikTok, you know that dermatologists love to tout the benefits of vitamin C serums and creams. They claim the vitamin can brighten and firm the skin, protect it from sun and environmental damage, diminish dark spots and even reduce the signs of aging.

“All of its various benefits make it a top recommendation for most dermatologists,” said Dr. Fatima Fahs, a dermatologist in Michigan.

Yet if you dig into the research on how vitamin C actually affects the skin, a different picture emerges. In one 2021 review published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, for instance, Dr. Fahs and her colleagues evaluated how effective various vitamin C formulations were at improving skin health. They

Read the rest

Nattokinase hype scrutinised

Posted 11 October 2023

McGill University science advocate Jonathan Jarry took a close look at the hype for nattokinase supplements and was not impressed.
Reference: Jarry J. Nattokinase’s clot-busting promises sway scientists who should know better. McGill Office for Science and Society, Aug 4, 2023

His key messages are:

  • Nattokinase is an enzyme secreted by bacteria when fermenting soybeans during the making of the traditional Japanese food known as natto.
  • Nattokinase dietary supplements are claimed to help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, although the studies done so far are not rigorous enough to support this claim.
  • It is not known for certain what happens to nattokinase in the human body when taken by mouth.
  • Anti-vaccine influencers are selling nattokinase supplements as a way to “detox” from the spike protein contained in the COVID-19 vaccines, an idea that is not based on good science.
Read the rest

Ketone drinks: do they really improve sports performance?

Posted 10 July 2023

From The Conversation

An extract:

A newer ketone monoester (ketone body bound to a compound called monoester) drink was shown not to cause gastrointestinal discomfort and to sufficiently increase ketone body concentrations in the blood. However, this still didn’t result in improved performance, as a new study by researchers at McMaster University in Canada showed. They found the ketone supplement impaired a 20-minute time-trial performance by 2.4% compared with a placebo.

Continue reading at The Conversation

Read the rest

Berberine. Don’t swallow the hype. Or the pill. Is not “Nature’s Ozempic”

Posted 05 July 2023

Berberine, a compound found in several plants used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, is being hyped on TikTok as a natural alternative to Ozempic (semaglutide) for weight loss. However, Joe Schwarcz, PhD, who directs the McGill Office for Science and Society, notes:

(a) berberine is poorly absorbed from the intestine when taken as a dietary supplement,

(b) unlike semaglutide, it doesn’t act as an analogue of the hormone GLP-1 to suppress appetite, and

(c) scientific evidence is lacking to support its use for weight loss.

Reference: Schwarcz J. Berberine. Don’t swallow the hype. Or the pill. McGill Office for Science and Society, June 22, 2023

Source: Consumer Health Digest #23-27 July 2, 2023

Read the rest

Hundreds of companies cautioned about unsubstantiated health-product claims

Posted 28 April 2023

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent notices to approximately 670 marketers of over-the-counter drugs, homeopathic products, dietary supplements, and functional foods. The notices indicated that they did not reflect any assessment as to whether the recipients have engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct. However, they warned that the recipients should avoid deceiving consumers with advertisements that make unsubstantiated product claims and said that the FTC will not hesitate to use its authority to hand violators large civil penalties. The notices refer to the FTC staff’s recently issued “Health Products Compliance Guidance.”
Reference: FTC warns almost 700 marketing companies that they could face civil penalties if they can’t back up their product claims. FTC press release, April 13, 2023

The notices outline specific unlawful acts and practices, including:

  • failing to have a reasonable basis consisting of competent and reliable evidence for objective product claims
  • failing
Read the rest

Experts spotlight liver injury from herbal dietary supplements in the U.S

Posted 19 April 2023

Experts on natural products and toxicology have provided an overview of the problem of liver damage due to herbal dietary supplement (HDS) use in the United States. They suggest two strategies they hope will improve consumer safety and drive bad actors from the marketplace. One is a path for pre-clinical assessment and the other is the establishment of a list of products.
Reference: Gurley BJ, and others. Hepatoxicity due to herbal dietary supplements: Past, present, and the future. Food and Chemical Toxicology 169:113445, 2022

Their key points include:

  • The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 provides an insufficient framework for regulating HDS products.
  • 20% of adult Americans regularly consume HDS products.
  • Liver toxicity is among the most frequent serious events reported through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting System.
  • 20% of all drug-induced
Read the rest

Vitamins and supplements: what you need to know before taking them

Posted 03 February 2023

The Conversation

If you were to open your medicine cabinet right now, there’s a fair chance that you’d find at least one bottle of vitamins alongside the painkillers, plasters and cough syrup.

After all, people are definitely buying vitamins: in 2020, the global market for complementary and alternative medicines, which includes multivitamin supplements, had an estimated value of US$82.27 billion. The use of natural health products such as minerals and amino acids has increased – and continues to rise, partly driven by consumers’ buying habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People sought out vitamins C and D, as well as zinc supplements, as potential preventive measures against the virus – even though the evidence for their efficacy was, and remains, inconclusive.

Multivitamins and mineral supplements are easily accessible to consumers. They are often marketed for their health claims and benefits – sometimes unsubstantiated. But their … Read the rest