What’s supplementing herbal supplements?

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You’ve probably heard that old Latin phrase “caveat emptor”, which means “let the buyer beware.”

If you find yourself doing business with some stooges, it’s a real good thing to keep in mind.

And now, if you are one of the estimated 150 million Americans who take herbal supplements, maybe now is the time to start wondering if you should beware about what’s in them.

The New York state attorney general wants some big-name stores to stop selling their brand-name supplements.

Those stores being GNC, Walgreen’s, Walmart, and Target.

DNA bar-code testing found only four percent of Walmart samples contained supplements listed on the label.

Walgreen’s had just 18 percent. GNC had 22 percent, with 41 percent of Target’s store-brand containing labeled ingredients.

The testing found the supplements contained rice, beans, primrose, asparagus, wheat and other substances instead of the real deals.

But this is old news to some people.

A study at Canada’s University of Guelph in 2013 found contamination and substitution in most supplements, like a ginkgo product contaminated with black walnut, a danger to people with nut allergies. And St. John’s Wort, used to treat depression, containing Senna Alexandrina, an herbal laxative.

But hold on before you go throwing away all of your supplements.

The American Botanical Council in Austin and other groups say the New York attorney general’s test is sketchy at best.

They say the ABCs of DNA barcoding show that such tests rarely properly identify chemically complex herbal extracts because the commercial extraction process leaves little to no DNA in the final product.

ABC adds that additional testing using microscopic analysis and validated chemical methods should be used to confirm the attorney general’s results.

That’s a lot to digest, but this information may help you supplement your food for thought.


Mystery Wire - NYT

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