Taking herbal supplements for weight loss has become a popular trend, but a new study shows not all products are safe.
Researchers say people should not assume herbal weight loss aids are safe. Because the products can be purchased without a prescription, they are not subject to the same standards as drugs.
Researchers in Japan studied 12 patients who developed liver problems after taking Chaso and Onshido -- two popular herbal weight-loss products made in China and sold on the Internet. Researchers reviewed the patients' records to evaluate their medical history and conducted a chemical analysis of the herbal products to determine what ingredients they contained.
Although both products were advertised as containing only botanicals, results of the study show the supplements contain N-nitroso-fenfluramine -- a drug taken off the market in the United States after being linked to heart problems. Researchers did not find any other potential causes for liver problems in the patients. One of the 12 patients died and another needed a liver transplant. The remaining 10 patients recovered after they stopped taking the supplements.
Researchers say more needs to be done to educate the general public about the potential dangers of herbal supplements.