30% of SAMe supplements fail to pass testing

Alternative Medicine, Joint Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health
Dietary supplements containing SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) can be effective in treating osteoarthritis as well as depression and mood disorders, but only 7 out of ten SAM-e supplements recently selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com met all quality criteria. Furthermore, the cost of SAMe varied almost 6-fold ... with the most expensive product failing! (more…)
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Problems discovered with vitamin D supplements

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Many consumers do not realize that natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are essentially unregulated in the U.S. Without the wonderful work of several independent quality testing labs, professionals and consumers would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle. To illustrate this is a recent report showing that among 28 vitamin D supplements recently selected for independent testing by ConsumerLab.com, problems were found with 8 products (29% of those reviewed). (more…)
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CoQ10 test results show high quality, but wide differences in dosages, formulations, and cost

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Heart Health
CoQ10 is among the most popular supplements in the U.S. and is used for cardiovascular disease and a range of other conditions. However, it is easy, however, for a consumer to be confused about CoQ10 due to mixed clinical findings, absorption issues, two chemical forms (CoQ10 and its activated from, ubiquinol), and a variety of suggested dosing across products. (more…)
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Isoflavones reduce postmenopausal insomnia, hot flashes

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
In a past blog, Natural Medications (Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements) for Menopausal Symptoms, I discussed the data supporting a trial of isoflavones in women with menopausal symptoms. However, there was not a lot of data. Now, Medscape is reporting, "Isoflavones may reduce insomnia symptoms" in postmenopausal women, according to a small study in the journal Menopause. (more…)
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DHEA Supplements, Touted For Anti-Aging And Strength, Reviewed By Consumerlab.Com

Alternative Medicine
Recent tests of DHEA supplements by ConsumerLab.com showed that most products contained their claimed amounts of the controversial ingredient, but one provided only 14.7% of its listed amount. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a steroid hormone now banned from use by certain athletic organizations and not permitted to be sold in Canada without a prescription, has been touted for its potential to "reverse the aging process" and "increase strength." You can read my blog, "DHEA for Anti-Aging or other purposes … what’s the truth?" to learn more about DHEA. This is taken from my book, Alternative Medicine: The claims, the options, the evidence, how to choose wisely. ConsumerLab.com's new Product Review of DHEA Supplements reviews these claims as well as the quality of products on the market. Sales of DHEA were $55 million…
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Lower-Priced Resveratrol Supplements Pass Quality Tests While Some Higher-Priced Brands Flunk

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics, Nutritional Health
Nature's Code ResveratrexConsumerLab.com has reported that tests of supplements containing resveratrol — a compound promoted as "life-extending" — revealed that two products provided only 43.4% and 86.7%, respectively, of their listed amounts of resveratrol. These two products were among the most expensive supplements of the ten products selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com. Surprisingly, ALL of the lower-priced products fared well in the tests. Results for all ten products are now published in ConsumerLab.com’s Review of Resveratrol Supplements. An additional nine products that passed the same testing through ConsumerLab.com’s Voluntary Certification Program are included in the report as well as one product similar to one that passed testing but sold under a different brand name. Resveratrol products have proliferated following reports in 2006 of life-extending and athletic endurance-enhancing effects of resveratrol…
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Probiotics have health benefits in some children

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
The AP reports, "For years, companies have been making claims that their probiotic pills, yogurts, milks and juices help digestive health and the immune system. Some experts are still not so sure, however. In recent blogs about probiotics and kids, I've told you, “Friendly Bacteria (Probiotics) Help Calm Colicky Babies and May Help Constipated Babies” and "Probiotics may ease kids’ belly aches (especially IBS)." And now, a "leading medical group says there's some evidence that probiotics, or 'good' bacteria, may have limited benefits for certain illnesses in children." A new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) review published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that giving probiotics early to children with diarrhea from a viral infection, but who are otherwise healthy, can shorten the duration of illness. The Time "Healthland" blog reported, "The review also found that probiotics…
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Probiotics may ease kids’ belly aches (especially IBS)

Children's Health, Parenting
In a past blog about probiotics, I told you, "Friendly Bacteria (Probiotics) Help Calm Colicky Babies and May Help Constipated Babies." Now, an Italian study is suggesting that a daily dose of "friendly bacteria" (probiotics) could provide relief for kids suffering from the cruel pain of a CHRONIC tummy ache. Here are the details from a report in Reuters Health: Yet little evidence exists to date for helpful medications or dietary changes, Dr. Ruggiero Francavilla of the University of Bari, in Italy, told Reuters Health in an e-mail. Given recent research hinting at the therapeutic value of probiotics for adults with stomach problems, particularly a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome that can cause pain and abnormal bowel movements, Francavilla and his team wanted to see if good bacteria might benefit…
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Less Than 25% of Valerian Herbal Sleep Supplements Pass Tests For Quality

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
Long-time readers of this blog know of my admiration for ConsumerLab.com, a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of natural medications (herbs, vitamins and supplements). In fact, I use their findings almost daily in my practice to recommend natural medications to my patients. In its most recent evaluation of a natural medication, valerian, ConsumerLab found that MOST of the valerian herbal supplements tested contained less of the herb than expected and/or were contaminated with lead. Valerian is a popular herbal sleep aid used by approximately 6% of the U.S. population. Valerian accounted for $68 million in sales in the U.S. in 2009, up 10% from the prior year, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Among nine leading and best-selling products selected by ConsumerLab.com for review, only TWO passed testing.…
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ConsumerLab.com Finds Quality Problems with Nearly 30% of Fish Oil Supplements Reviewed; “Fishy” Claims Identified

Nutritional Health
Fish, krill, and algal oil supplements now account for approximately $1 billion in sales in the U.S. To help consumers choose among products, ConsumerLab.com selected 24 of the best-selling oil supplements and tested them for EPA and DHA, contamination, freshness, and, if applicable, proper release by enteric coatings. Amazingly, nearly 30% of the fish oil supplements that they selected for testing failed to meet minimum quality standards. As discussed in the news release below, ConsumerLab found PCBs in all fish oil supplements (including krill and algal oil supplements) but typically at extremely low levels (addressing questions raised by the California lawsuit in March that I discussed here). ConsumerLab also we found that price is not an indicator of quality with fish oil and that a person need not pay more…
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U.S. Dietary Supplements Often Contaminated: Consumer Reports

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
Many popular dietary supplements contain ingredients that may cause cancer, heart problems, liver or kidney damage, but U.S. stores sell them anyway and Americans spend millions on them, according to a report from the trusted Consumer Reports. Here are the details from Reuters Health: The consumer magazine published a report highlighting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's lack of power to regulate such supplements, and said the agency rarely uses what little power it does have. The report from the influential group urged Congress to speed up small moves toward giving the agency more clout, especially in regulating supplements. Despite the "natural" labels carried by many of the supplements, many are contaminated. Yet Americans flock to take them, according to the magazine, citing the Nutrition Business Journal as saying the…
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My Recommendations for Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and SAMe for Osteoarthritis

Alternative Medicine
Several readers have requested that I post the advice that I both use in practice and teach other healthcare professionals when it comes to a topic on which I frequently teach, Natural Medications for Osteoarthritis: An evidence-based evaluation. This year I've given this talk in several hospitals and to state and national gatherings of physicians and PAs. Let's start with the take home recommendations: The Bottom Line Take Home Point #1 All patients with osteoarthritis should take part in an active exercise regimen and reduce weight (if overweight or obese). I also recommend they begin a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low in unsaturated fats. Antioxidants in pill form probably won't help. Instead, I advise patients to boost consumption of vegetables and fruits that provide lots of vitamin C, vitamin E,…
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GAO study reveals contaminants in herbal supplements

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Today I'm in Orlando, Florida, where I'll be speaking to the Florida Academy of Family Physicians on this exact issue. And, I find that most of my patients and most physicians are simply unaware of the danger. The New York Times is reporting, "Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found." Although the "levels of heavy metals – including mercury, cadmium and arsenic – did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous," almost half of them "contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits." Notably, "Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said in an interview…
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Tests of Protein Powders and Drinks Show Some Lead Contamination

Nutritional Health
New tests by one of my favorite natural medicine web sites, ConsumerLab.com, found most protein powders, shakes and drinks to meet their nutrient claims, but two products were contaminated with lead (6 to 18 mcg per day) and a third product contained four extra grams of sugar. The report provides test results for twenty products including those used for body building, meal replacement, sports recovery/endurance, and dieting. "What sets these products apart from other types of supplements and energy foods is protein — typically about 10 to 30 grams per serving," said Tod Cooperman, MD, President of ConsumerLab.com. Adults need about 60 grams of protein per day and more if physically active. “Fortunately, none of the products were found to contain melamine, a cheap and toxic substitute for protein, but…
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Newly released test show most Milk Thistle supplements are substandard

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
White Plains, New York — December 2, 2009 — A recent review by ConsumerLab.com of ten milk thistle supplements showed that only one met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards.  Two products failed to properly list the part of the milk thistle plant used -- a FDA requirement.  Among the remaining supplements, only one contained the expected amount of silymarin compounds, which are believed to be the active constituents of milk thistle. Studies suggest silymarin may be helpful in type 2 diabetes and, possibly, certain liver conditions.  While most products claimed that their milk thistle extracts were standardized to 80% silymarin, ConsumerLab.com found actual amounts to range from 47% to 67%.  Sales of milk thistle in the U.S. have climbed for several years, reaching $95 million in 2008 according to the latest figures…
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The Top 10 Natural Products of the Year

Bioethics, General Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
As you’ve read in my recent health headline postings, alternative medicines are used by 38 percent of American adults and nearly 12 percent of children, according to a large national survey done in 2007 that was released last week by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Natural products were the most popular alternative treatment used by the nearly 24,000 adults and more than 9,400 children interviewed for the survey. But, what were the top natural products used in 2007? More Information: (more…)
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Study Links Herbal Medicines to Lead Poisoning. How can you find safe herbs?

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Health Headlines, Medical Economics, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
Fox News is commenting on a study published in the August 27 issue of JAMA in which medical researchers say that one-fifth of Ayurvedic herbal medicines sold on the Internet contain dangerously high levels of lead, arsenic and mercury. How’s a consumer to protect themselves? My Take? (more…)
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Red yeast rice, fish oil fight high cholesterol

Alternative Medicine, Health Headlines, Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Reuters Health is reporting new research showing that a regimen of supplements and lifestyle coaching is just as effective as a statin medication for reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "lethal" cholesterol. Not only that, the combination was shown to be more effective in helping people lose weight. My Take? (more…)
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Dr. Walt’s Take on the Health Headlines – June 6, 2008

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics, Children's Health, General Health, Health Headlines, Medical Economics, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Here are my takes on some of today's health headlines, including one that is, in my opinion, being blown way out of perspective: Mercury teeth fillings may harm some: FDA Silver-colored metal dental fillings contain mercury that may cause health problems in pregnant women, children and fetuses, the Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday after settling a related lawsuit. (more…)
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