Physician calls for increased FDA regulation of dietary supplements

In my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I lament the lack of regulation of dietary supplements in the U.S. Because of this lack, it’s very difficult for consumers to know, when it comes to herbs, vitamins, and supplements, if what they purchase actually contains what the label says. It’s almost impossible to know if the natural medication is contaminated or not. As a result, there are now other voices beginning to call out for at least some regulation of these substances.Bloomberg News reports, “Consumers who take dietary supplements … may be playing ‘American roulette’ with their health,” according to an article by Pieter Cohen, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, appearing online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

He noted that the FDA “has identified about 140 contaminated products such as weight-loss pills that may cause high blood pressure, seizures, heart attacks or strokes, and body-building products that may cause liver injury and kidney failure from undeclared ingredients.”

But, under current law, “manufacturers and distributors do not need FDA approval to sell their dietary supplements,” Margaret Hamburg, the FDA commissioner, said.

Americans are, therefore, “swallowing unknown substances that could have life-threatening effects,” Cohen argued.

He added that “Congress must give the FDA more authority and resources to regulate the dietary supplement industry.”

I could not agree more.

However, until they do, how can you find safe and effective natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) in the U.S.? I recommend basing your purchasing decisions on the testing done by independent quality testing lab. No lab has done more testing than ConsumerLab.com. It’s a subscription site, but I recommend it for anyone considering taking a natural medication.

You can read more about making wise choices about alternative medicines and therapies in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. The book is endorsed by the Christian Medical Association and has been featured on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast.

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  • You can read the first chapter here.