In the case of luteolin supplements for autism/spectrum, "You're giving prepubescent kids a supplement that affects the endocrine system and that's dangerous," Nordeen says.
He points out that "nutraceuticals" which include flavonoid and other active-ingredient supplements aren't FDA regulated to the degree that are medicines. This allows manufacturers to market supplements without fully testing nutraceutical products for efficacy or potential side effects.
"I'm not saying that flavonoids in a normal, plant-rich diet are bad," Nordeen says, "but caution is warranted when consuming additional flavonoids via supplements.
Detrimental effects of flavonoids are not without precedent. A diet of red clover can affect development and reproduction in livestock. And the New England Journal of Medicine documented breast development in prepubescent boys that was linked to the use of shampoos and balms containing lavender or tea tree oils containing flavonoids.
"Because flavonoid supplements are widely used, we need to do the research necessary to understand their effects, both desirable and undesirable, in consumers using these products. We shouldn't be taking this stuff blindly because, just like prescription medicines, there can be unanticipated consequences," Nordeen says.
|Contact: Garth Sundem|
University of Colorado Denver