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The Danger of Fake Supplements

Are you putting fake supplements into your body?

High-quality supplements from a trusted source can be an effective element of your health plan. Unfortunately, some manufacturers cut corners on their products or aren’t truthful about what’s in them.

Some supplements don’t actually contain the ingredients they advertise. At best, they’ll do nothing to help you. But at worst, they contain potentially harmful substances.

DNA testing to identify ingredients

Researchers use DNA barcoding to determine if a supplement is authentic or has substitutes or fillers. This accurate method of identification has revealed some concerning findings.

Absent or substitute herbs

One such study found several brands of the supplement Ginkgo biloba (used to support brain function and circulation) contained no Ginkgo biloba at all. (1)

A separate study discovered that 50% of products labeled Korean ginseng were actually American ginseng, (2) so those consumers weren’t getting the benefits they sought.

One supplement labeled as St. John’s Wort (used as a mood booster) was actually senna, an FDA-approved laxative that can cause chronic digestive problems if used long term. (3)

Fillers

Another major study tested 44 supplements from a variety of brands in North America. They discovered that 59% of the products they tested contained species of the plant not listed on the label. Even worse, 33% contained fillers and contaminants also not listed on the label, such as wheat, rice, or soybeans. (4) These data are potentially dangerous for folks with allergies to those ingredients.

Know your source

We can’t barcode the DNA of all our supplements at home, so it's best to buy supplements from a known source that guarantees the authenticity of the products. Once you do that, you can take the supplements knowing that you’re getting the remedies you need.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

References

1. Little D. P. (2014). Authentication of Ginkgo biloba herbal dietary supplements using DNA barcoding. Genome, 57(9), 513–516. https://doi.org/10.1139/gen-2014-0130

2. Wallace, L., Boilard, S., Eagle, S., Spall, J., Shokralla, S., Hajibabaei, M. DNA barcodes for everyday life: Routine authentication of Natural Health Products. Food Research International. November (2012) 49:1, pp.446-452. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2012.07.048

3. Wallace, L., Boilard, S., Eagle, S., Spall, J., Shokralla, S., Hajibabaei, M. DNA barcodes for everyday life: Routine authentication of Natural Health Products. Food Research International. November (2012) 49:1, pp.446-452. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2012.07.048

4. Newmaster, S.G., Grguric, M., Shanmughanandhan, D. et al. DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products. BMC Med 11, 222 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-11-222

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