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Prohibited diet medicine found in Chinese herbs

traditional Chinese medicine are usually harvested in the wild and some plants may be accidentally substituted for others (such as happened when Arisolochia was substituted for Stephania, leading to the outbreak of Chinese Herb nephropathy in Belgium), or may be in short supply and substituted or omitted from preparations. We need to ensure that the products sold have undergone the same quality control processes as any other food or over-the-counter medicine," Conns said.

While quality control is a problem, the researchers also said consumers wrongly assume supplements are safe because they contain natural products. "Our recent experience, however, highlights how the public tends to believe, often with great naivety, natural remedies can be abused," they wrote.

Dietary supplements have not been regulated by FDA in the past because they were not considered either a food or a drug. That opinion has changed recently, with critics increasingly calling for some sort of regulations to oversee the supplement industry.

Dr. Alan Gaby, a nutrition professor at Bastyr University, said that this is the first time he has heard of fenfluramine found in Chinese herbs, but not the first time herbal remedies have been found to carry contaminants. Gaby said he would like to see package inserts explaining what the supplement can and cannot do, and added supplement manufacturers that claim a product treats a particular condition could be violating the law.


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