Herbal supplements’ illegal ingredients pose health risk, experts warn

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Posted 06 February 2016

The Guardian

Friday 3 February 2017

Unlicensed medicines used in obesity or erection remedies could lower blood pressure or raise chances of heart attack

Many herbal supplements, including for obesity and erectile dysfunction, contain hidden unlicensed pharmaceutical ingredients that could endanger people’s health, experts have warned.

The research team, from Queen’s University Belfast, Kingston University in London and the life sciences testing company LGC, concluded that not only do such supplements often make unverified claims as to their benefits but some have illegal ingredients which could pose a threat – potentially causing low blood pressure or an increased risk of heart attacks.

The substances are unlicensed medicines as they are appearing in products classified as food supplements. Among the most common substances identified was sibutramine, according to the study, published in the Journal of the Association of Public Analysts.

Sibutramine was licensed as the medicine Reductil until 2010, when it was withdrawn across Europe and the US due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with the use of the drug.

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