Hyderabad: Herbal and nutritional supplements used for weight management have been found to be contaminated with metals, toxic compounds, psychotropic substances, and pathogenic bacteria, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology which has taken into account cases from India, where a large number of herbal supplements have been noted to be consumed for slimming and nutritional stabilization.
Clinical cases are now being taken up and highlighted in order to compile scientific evidence around the abuse of such herbal drugs.
The study took into account cases of patients who have reported to clinics with unsettling evidence of bacterial contamination, toxicity, and complications caused by the intake of a combination of chemicals which were found to affect liver cells.
The case which has been cited in the study is that of a 24-year-old woman suffering from hypothyroidism with no other chronic illness. Upon examination of the patient's history, it was found that in order to lose weight, she took to consuming personalized protein powder, shake mix, and energy drinks twice every day.
The products were purchased from a local nutrition club.
Due to the high intake, other than the progressive loss of appetite, complications like the development of jaundice, inflammation, severe abdominal bloating, and development of final stage liver disease were noted over a span of two months.
An urgent transplant was recommended to the patient.
However, she died before registration. Further investigation found 75 percent of the three samples to be contaminated with psychotropic recreational agents, while 63 percent of the same samples were found to be contaminated with bacteria.
The study pointed out that although such products are being marketed on a grand scale, their exact contents are not known.
Senior nutritionist Dr Janaki Srinath explained, “There is no clinical evidence of the safety and efficacy of such supplements. They are being prescribed by non-qualified individuals at nutritional clubs. There is no access to clinical studies. And by the time one realizes that they need to make their way to the hospital, they are usually at the end stage of the disease.”
Dr Ch. Madhu Sudhan, a senior liver specialist at Osmania General Hospital explained, “A large number of cases of herbal abuse have been reported wherein the primary culprit has been the patients’ unhealthy obsession with losing weight. And although such products have high efficacy, they end up harming the liver a great deal, as it is the liver cells that process the toxic metals and compounds.” With such products being sold over-the-counter on a large scale, it has become rather challenging to tackle the crescendo of this menace....