So, one day you are surfing the Internet looking for weight loss solutions and you happen to fall on a website offering an all-natural herbal supplement that appears to be the answer to your fat-burning dreams. The product in question is supposed to offer a substantial weight reduction in a short period of time, a selling point that attracts your attention. The professional nature of the website offering the product also adds to your enthusiasm. The before and after photos and testimonials appear to attach credibility to the offer. They even have a disclaimer with warnings and directions that resemble government agency-approved drugs, which adds to your confidence about the online store and the fat-burning solution they are selling. Everything appears to be a green light for you to order the product and begin losing weight. In your excitement, you pull out your credit card and make your purchase.
But, what are you really getting?
It’s always possible that it could be the real thing. However, your wonderful fat-burning product might also be a supplement laced with potentially harmful drugs, toxic metals, chemicals, and other obscure ingredients that one cannot see because they are not listed on the packaging. Botanical dietary supplements, often viewed as safe because they are considered natural, may lead to toxic responses due to possible contamination by toxic plants, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, or pharmaceutical molecules.
Seeing as you probably do not have a mass spectrometer implanted in your eyes to help in the screening process, you are really operating on faith.
So, is dietary supplement contamination a little bit difficult to believe? Maybe. But, that doesn’t mean that the consumer should turn a blind eye to such a danger for the sake of wanting to believe in a miracle health or weight loss product.
Weight loss supplements have been found to contain prescription drugs and their analogues, including drugs that have been banned because of their potential to cause harm to a person’s health. For instance, an impressive FDA list of weight control products sold on the Internet and through a few retail establishments were found to contain, among other undeclared ingredients, a highly popular appetite suppressant pharmaceutical molecule, a weight loss aid that was removed from market because of the number of serious side Biofit effects that it caused. Some of the adverse effects included the potential for heart attacks and strokes in cardiac patients. Regardless of the dangerous health problems that it could cause, the point to retain is that this particular substance was not indicated as being part of the ingredients in those particular products.
That’s where the real danger lies.
Weight loss supplements sold over the Internet have also been shown to have undisclosed active ingredients like anabolic steroids and stimulants, some of which have not been tested for adverse health effects. In fact, elite athletes have had to deal with positive doping test results as a direct consequence of using sports performance supplements contaminated with stimulants, steroids or steroid precursors. While more likely a result of poor quality assurance procedures, there is evidence of intentional adulteration of sports performance supplements. These are issues, therefore, that need to be taken into consideration because the general consumer will not be able to know the difference between rigorously tested products and those that are not part of a quality-ensured system.
What is even worse is that some of these hidden ingredients can possibly interact with other prescription or non-prescription medications, herbal products, or nutritional supplements that an individual might be taking for weight loss or a medical condition. The result is an unknown cocktail of various molecule interactions that can have consequences.
If we add to that the possibility of counterfeit prescription drugs and supplements that buyers might unwittingly purchase through illegal cyberpharmacies just because the labelling and packaging is the same as the real pharmaceutical products, the problem becomes even more complex.
So, what can an unsuspecting customer do to avoid health problems associated with potentially harmful weight control supplements?
Firstly, steer well clear of imported herbal fat-reducing mixes, especially sources from Asia. Avoid the temptation to purchase any weight loss supplements or drugs you find on the Internet, as well. This includes purchasing weight loss products through solicitations in spam e-mails. You have no idea what is in those mixes or medicinal products.
Be aware that potential health hazards associated with weight loss products, and this includes dietary supplements, may not be accurately represented on websites, if at all, because regulatory systems may be difficult to enforce or can be easily bypassed. For instance, weight loss products and drugs that have been linked to damaging side effects and, consequently, have been banned by government regulators can still be found and purchased on the Internet. While there are calls for new regulations and tighter controls concerning supplements sold over the Internet, the main challenge will still remain one of compliance.
Secondly, speak with a medical practitioner, pharmacist, or nutritionist about your desire to use herbal products for weight loss. Unfortunately, people seem to be reluctant to speak with their physicians or pharmacists concerning the benefits and hazards associated with their weight loss products. In many cases the usage of dietary supplements by a patient is not even mentioned when a health professional attempts to establish a clear medical history. This is an error.
Your doctor or pharmacist can coach you on the type of product you are looking to use. In addition, by informing your doctor of your intention to supplement with special weight loss products, whether herbal or otherwise, he or she will be in a better position to offer guidance if you happen be taking medication that can be adversely affected by those supplements, questionable herbal concoctions, and stimulants. And even if you do not take any medication, do not make the mistake of withholding this kind of nutritional supplementation information.