Read labels to ensure all-natural ingredients in your diet
I am very concerned after the recent lawsuit in Oregon with a company selling a product that contained an unlawful ingredient. As a user of supplements, how can I avoid purchasing a product that contains unnatural ingredients? What is the law on new ingredients?
Read the product label! It is so important to read every product label on any supplement or food item you purchase. If you are not familiar with an ingredient, and your research is unsettling, you can contact the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and ask for their assistant. The products in question are called Picamilon and beta-methylphenylamine (BMPEA), both unlawful dietary ingredients. Picamilon, while not approved in the United States, is used as a prescription drug in some countries to treat neurological conditions, BMPEA is used as a powerful amphetamine like substance according to an article on Health in Reuters. Before a new ingredient can be added to a supplement, a NDI is required. An NDI is a "New Dietary Ingredient" notification that must be filed with the FDA before a natural dietary ingredient, not used in the United States before 1994, can be sold as a dietary supplement according to the FDA. As long ago as November, 2013, the FDA scientists found a "non-natural" ingredient when they tested 21 supposedly all natural products according to their study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. Out of the 21 products tested, nine contained the compound Acacia rigidula. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School quotes "This is a brand new drug being placed into a number of supplements under the guise of a natural ingredient". Acacia rigidula is found in work out and weight loss supplements and used as a stimulant because it contains large amount of phenethylamine. Listing Acacia rigidula as an ingredient has been found to contain another unlisted ingredient called beta-methylphenethylamine (BMPEA). This ingredient is a stimulant similar to amphetamine. But unlike phenethylamine, it is not found naturally in Acacia rigidula or any other known plants. In April, 2015, the FDA stated that BMPEA does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient. Therefore, any product containing BMPEA are considered misbranded according to their statement. I cannot stress the importance of reading any product label in detail. If you question a label that states, "natural ingredients" or "natural flavoring", call the manufacturer as their information is listed on the product package and ask for clarification. While there are many good supplements on the market, there are many that are useless and in some cases, dangerous.
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Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.