Study: herbal supplements not as healthy as many think - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Study: herbal supplements not as healthy as many think

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(CBS) -

The herbal supplements many use to stay healthy may not be all they are cracked up to be.

Authorities conducted an investigation and said many of the supplements don't even have any of the herbs on their labels.

Now, the New York State Attorney General's office is calling on four major retailers to get those products off of store shelves.

Anyone who buys the supplements at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart may be affected.

The attorney general said the retailers are selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous pills.

Their tests show that supplements labeled “medicinal herbs” often contained more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus, and houseplants.

In some cases, there were substances that were not on the label and could be dangerous to anyone with allergies.

Among the attorney general's findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice.

The tests were conducted using a process called DNA barcoding which identifies individual ingredients.

The investigation comes as a welcome surprise to health experts who have long complained about the quality and safety of dietary supplements, which are exempt from the strict regulatory oversight applied to prescription drugs.

Walmart, Walgreens and GNC said they are reaching out to suppliers and will take appropriate action. Target has not responded yet.

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