Nobody likes filler. And yet it plagues us in everything from albums to TV series to movies and… herbal supplements.
Yes, herbal supplements sold in stores like Walmart, Walgreens and GNC have been found by the FDA to not contain nearly as much substance as claimed.
The herbs listed on the labels of many supplements tested aren’t even in the bottle – in their place are potential allergens like wheat and soy powder.
In some cases, even houseplants were found in the products.
The New York Times reports problems in 4 out of 5 herbal supplements tested.
For example, the ingredients found in GNC’s signature brand of Herbal Plus supplements were deemed “unrecognizable or a substance other than what they claimed to be.” Ingredients that were recognizable were things like rice, asparagus — and spruce.
This is made even more unfortunate by the fact that GNC’s Herbal Plus supplements cost $50 per bottle.
Target’s Up and Up brand of supplements was similarly disappointing, with pills labelled ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and valerian root found to contain powdered rice, beans, peas and wild carrots.
All of this led to the New York Attorney General’s Office handing out cease & desist orders left, right and center.
“Of late, the topic of purity (or lack thereof) in popular herbal dietary supplements has raised serious public health and safety concerns and also caused this office to take steps to independently assess the validity of industry representations and advertising.”
The letter goes on to request that GNC hand over the name of the manufacturer and the production locations of the herbal products under investigation.
Though GNC’s supplements showed poorly, The Washington Post reports Walmart to be the worst out of all retailers in the area of supplement fraud. None of the supplements tested from the retail giant were found to contain what was listed on the label.
Many experts believe this gross misrepresentation is due to the lack of regulation in the health supplement industry. In 2012, two doctors by the name of Donald Marcus and Arthur Grollman wrote a report warning that the lack of regulation was bound to lead to adverse events.
A Canadian study also found one third of herbal supplements tested in retailers across the border contained no trace of the advertised plant.
My recommendation? Ditch the health supplements altogether and check out David Wolfe’s superfoods book that’ll show you several health-boosting, natural and organic foods.