We all know that diet pills are full of chemicals, but what about “natural” weight loss supplements? With ingredients like lotus seed and bee pollen, natural weight loss supplements are a safe and effective alternative, right?

Well, not according to the FDA. A recent report indicates that many so-called natural health supplements—like the popular Fat Zero—also contain a drug called sibutramine which was banned by the FDA back in 2010.

So what’s sibutramine doing in weight loss products in 2013?


Herbal Supplements vs. Prescription Drugs: Dangerous Loopholes

Simply put, these “nautral” diet pills get away with using a banned ingredient because they aren’t prescription drugs. Fat Zero and products like Fruit & Plant Slimming or Extreme Body Slim are classified as “herbal supplements.”

Basically, as long as the manufacturers don’t claim that these pills have specific health-related capabilities, the FDA can’t regulate them before they go to market.

As NBC News describes the loophole:

“Unlike prescription drugs, supplements and herbal products are not regulated by the FDA before they are sold. So long as makers don’t make specific healthy claims, they can sell products made with ingredients that are ‘generally recognized as safe.'”

This means that as long as the diet supplements don’t advertise scientific claims, or contain an obvious poison like mercury, the FDA will more or less leave them alone at the pre-market stage.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the FDA will turn a blind-eye to a dangerous product once it’s actually available to consumers.

NBC News reports:

“…the FDA can test these products, and if prescription drugs or other potentially dangerous ingredients are found, it can warn the public.”

And that’s exactly what happened.


Sibutramine Linked to Serious Heart Problems, Increased Appetite

Most of the supplements that were deemed dangerous by the FDA contained a diet drug known as sibutramine. Sibutramine was banned by the FDA back in October of 2010 because it’s been linked to serious heart damage.

A black-and-white photo of a woman measuring her own belly.

Some of the natural supplements used to help people lose weight might actually contain ingredients that the FDA considers to be highly unsafe.

Sibutramine is now a controlled substance which poses a serious health risk to consumers with any history of congestive heart failure, stroke, arrhythmia, or coronary artery disease. If unknowingly mixed with other medications, the drug may even cause death.

And it might not even help you lose weight. Sibutramine messes around with your brain chemicals and has actually been shown to increase appetite in some cases. Scientists aren’t really sure why sibutramine is even added to these weight loss supplements.

Any rate, it’s a safe call to avoid this supplement at all costs.


Any Tips? Let Us Know!

If you happen to know about any other unsafe health supplements, you should definitely let us and the public know! Share any tips in the comments or over at the main page.


See Also

Are Herbal Supplements a Scam? New DNA Evidence Exposes Natural Pills
How Those “One Weird Trick” Belly Fat Ads Scam You
Placenta Pills: A New Health Trend for Moms or an All-Natural Scam?

About The Author

Sean Boulger is a freelance writer and storytelling enthusiast living in LA. He loves television, pop culture, minimalism, and two cats.

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2 Responses

  1. Josh Harris

    Have to be really careful what you ingest. That’s why speaking with a doctor is most important. Speak with a trusted doctor, that is.


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