More Problems for Supplements
A recent study finds that 90% of herbal supplements from Pakistan are contaminated with molds, 70% exceeding acceptable limits. This represents yet another quality control issue for the poorly regulated supplement industry.
We reported recently that between 2004 and 2012 the FDA recalled 237 supplements because they contained unlisted drugs in their ingredients. In a follow up study the FDA looked at the previously banned supplements that were still on the market. They found that 66.7% of those tested still contained unlisted drugs in their ingredients. Further, 22.2% of the supplements tested contained additional drug adulteration not previously detected.
Further, a 2013 study using DNA barcoding on herbal supplements found that 59% contained ingredients not on the label. Only 48% actually contained the plant product they were supposed to, and a third of those also contained unlisted fillers and contaminants.
Other research has found that 20% of Ayurvedic herbal products were contaminated with unsafe levels of heavy metals.
The current study reports:
The investigation was designed to throw light on mycological and mycotoxicological status of some medicinal plants from Pakistan and the result showed 30 % and 26.7 % samples were contaminated with aflatoxins and ochratoxin A, respectively. Mould contamination was present in 90 % samples, of which 70 % exceeded the permissible limits.
Mycotoxins are toxins excreted by fungus or mold. Aflatoxins are powerful carcinogens. Ochratoxins are also possible carcinogens and are known to cause kidney damage.
This study adds to the list of serious quality control issue with herbal supplements, which are poorly regulated, with frequent contamination, product substitution, and adulteration with unlisted drugs.