FTC, NY AG: Popular Health Supplements Actually Full of Asparagus and Lies

The asparagus depresses me more than the lies…

…the attorney general of New York sent cease-and-desist letters to a set of major chain stores, asking them to stop sales of a number of herbal supplements that contained contaminants, lacked the promised ingredient, or both. His actions follow those of the Federal Trade Commission, which is going after the makers of the green coffee bean extract that was promoted by TV’s popular Dr. Oz show.

The two cases have different origins. The New York one dates back to 2013, when researchers started performing DNA tests on a set of herbal remedies obtained in stores. These showed that many popular remedies didn’t actually contain the species mentioned on the label and often contained extraneous plant matter—in some cases from plants that can also provoke significant biological responses.

…The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.

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The NYT’s Well blog has a full list of useless pills to look out for.  And never underestimate the power of placebo