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These "natural" diet products contain dangerous drugs, warns FDA

Teresa Tanoos's picture
FDA warns public not to use these "natural", yet dangerous diet products

Many diet products on the market today claim to be safe and natural, but that’s not always the case, warns the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency issued a warning on June 17, advising consumers that some of these so-called “all natural” products actually contain a dangerous controlled drug, as well as other ingredients that may not be so safe or natural.

One such product is Extreme Body Slim. The FDA advises consumers not to purchase or use the weight loss product since the agency's laboratory analysis confirmed it contains sibutramine, a controlled substance so dangerous it was removed from the market in October 2010 for safety reasons.

Sibutramine poses a threat to consumers because the substance is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients, not to mention that it could interact with other medications a person may be taking. It may also pose a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke.

If you are taking Extreme Body Slim, the FDA advises you to stop doing so immediately and throw the product away. If you have experienced any negative side effects from the product, you should consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

The FDA has issued warnings for other weight loss products as well, including Fat Zero, another so-called "safe and natural" product that contains bee pollen, green tea and lotus seed. However, the product also contains the dangerous prescription diet drug sibutramine.
Additional warnings about similar weight loss products have also been issued by the FDA. All such products claim to be natural, yet all contain not only sibutramine, but phenolphthalein too.

Phenolphthalein was an ingredient in some over-the-counter laxative products until 1999 when the FDA reclassified the ingredient as “not generally recognized as safe and effective”. Phenolphthalein laxative was therefore pulled out of pills because it might cause cancer.

“Fat Zero will give your body the jump start it needs to lose those unwanted pounds,” promises the website that promotes it.

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That much it will do, says the FDA, but it won't be because of its so-called natural ingredients. The jump start will come from the dangerous drug, sibutramine, which can damage the heart.

“The product poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke,” the FDA warns in a notice to consumers. "This product may also interact, in life-threatening ways, with other medications a consumer may be taking.”

Sibutramine affects several brain chemicals, including serotinin and norepinephrine. Although researchers don't fully understand how it works, it can actually cause weight gain, as there have been reports by some who say it increases appetite instead.

Other products the FDA warned about on Tuesday include Fruit & Plant Slimming, which contains both sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

Then there's another, yet different, "natural" product the FDA warned about today that contains a prescription drug sold for sexual enhancement. The product, known as "Royal Dragon Herbal Tonic Balls", contains vardenafil, which is the active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra.

“This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels,” warns the FDA. “Consumers should stop using this product immediately and throw it away."

Unlike prescription drugs, supplements and herbal products are not regulated by the FDA before they are sold. They can therefore be marketed and sold, but only if they don't make any specific health claims - and only if they list ingredients that are "generally recognized as safe". However, the FDA can test these products, and if they find any prescription drugs or other potentially dangerous ingredients, the agency can then warn the public.

SOURCE: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): 1. Public Notification: “Extreme Body Slim” Contains Hidden Drug Ingredient (June 17, 2013); 2. Public Notification: “Fat Zero” Contains Hidden Drug Ingredient (June 17, 2013).