A Canadian herbal product could pose danger to those with heart problems, the country's health authorities say.
"Herbal Diet Natural" contains an undeclared pharmaceutical ingredient similar to the prescription drug sibutramine. Sibutramine may pose serious health risks, particularly to people with heart problems. Consumers who have purchased "Herbal Diet Natural" are advised to consult with a medical professional if they have used the product or have concerns about their health, says Health Canada.
Sibutramine is a prescription drug used to treat obesity. The use of sibutramine may cause serious side-effects, including cardiovascular reactions, such as increased blood pressure, chest pain, and stroke, in addition to dry mouth, difficulty sleeping and constipation. Sibutramine should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner. Sibutramine should not be taken by people who have had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, heart-related chest pain, irregular heart beats, congestive heart failure, a stroke or symptoms of a stroke, in individuals with unstable or poorly controlled high blood pressure, or in patients who have clinically diagnosed depression or have a psychiatric illness. Sibutramine is not recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant.
According to the product label, Herbal Diet Natural also contains glucomannan used for the treatment of weight loss. In January 2010, Health Canada advised Canadians that natural health products containing the ingredient glucomannan in tablet, capsule or powder form, which are currently on the Canadian market, have a potential for harm if taken without at least 8 ounces of water or other fluid. The risk to Canadians includes choking and/or blockage of the throat, esophagus or intestine. These products should NOT be taken immediately before going to bed.
Health Canada is working with the Canada Border Services Agency to stop future importation of any shipments of "Herbal Diet Natural" from entering Canada. Health Canada is also advising consumers to return the product to the place of purchase.
Drugs and natural health products that are authorized for sale in Canada will have either an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), a Natural Product Number (NPN) or a Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. These numbers indicate that the products have been assessed by Health Canada for safety, effectiveness and quality.
To date, no adverse reactions from the use of this product have been reported in Canada, the agency adds.