What’s in Those Herbal Supplements? Not Herbs! 

screen-shot-2015-02-03-at-120411-pm*600xx994-664-265-223by Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

Authorities in New York state recently ran tests on popular herbal supplements sold at national retailers. What they found was pretty shocking. Four out of five herbal supplements did not contain any of the herbs they were labeled to contain such as ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wort, or valerian root. Instead, they were filled with powdered rice, legumes, radish, wheat, carrots and even house plants! What? I am all for us having access to herbs and other supplements. Lets just hope the industry does thing right and gives us what we think we are paying for. So far, it looks like they can’t be trusted.

See below for the gory details about what is actually in four manistream brands below from this New York Times article. You can also read more about the issue here

From GNC, Herbal Plus brand:
Gingko Biloba:
No gingko biloba found
Did detect allium (garlic), rice, spruce and asparagus

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found
Did detect allium (garlic), rice and dracaena (a tropical houseplant)

Ginseng
No ginseng found
Did detect rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus

Garlic
Contained garlic

Echinacea
No echinacea found
Did detect rice in some samples

Saw Palmetto
One sample contained the clear presence of palmetto
Other samples contained a variety of ingredients, including asparagus, rice and primrose

From Target, Up & Up brand
Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found
Found garlic, rice and mung/French bean

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found
Found garlic, rice and dracaena (houseplant)

Garlic 
Contained garlic
One test identified no DNA

Echinacea
Most but not all tests detected Echinacea
One test identified rice

Saw Palmetto
Most tests detected saw palmetto
Some tests found no plant DNA

Valerian Root
No valerian root found
Found allium, bean, asparagus, pea family, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto

From Walgreens, Finest Nutrition brand
Gingko Biloba 
No gingko biloba found
Did detect rice

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found
Detected garlic, rice and dracaena

Ginseng
No ginseng found
Detected garlic and rice

Garlic
No garlic found
Detected palm, dracaena, wheat and rice

Echinacea
No echinacea found
Identified garlic, rice and daisy

Saw Palmetto
Contained saw palmetto

From Walmart, Spring Valley brand
Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found
Found rice, dracaena, mustard, wheat and radish

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found
Detected garlic, rice and cassava

Ginseng
No ginseng found
Found rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus

Garlic 
One sample showed small amounts of garlic
Found rice, pine, palm, dracaena and wheat

Echinacea
No echinacea or plant material found

Saw Palmetto
Some samples contained small amounts of saw palmetto
Also found garlic and rice

Copyright © 2015 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

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