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Toxic Ingredients Found in Weight Loss Supplements

And some major sellers have declined to issue a recall.

In January 2024, the FDA issued a warning about dietary supplements purchased on popular e-commerce websites like Amazon and Etsy that were made with toxic ingredients. Tejocote root, part of the hawthorn family, is a Mexican root supplement marketed for weight loss.

An FDA analysis found that these dietary supplements, labeled as tejocote root or Brazil seed, are adulterated. Instead of tejocote, they were substituted with yellow oleander, a poisonous plant native to Mexico and Central America. 

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The FDA contacted several sellers, including World Green Nutrition, H and Natural, and Backstage CTC, who initiated a recall. However, some have declined to issue a recall, like Sunset Sales and Amazon. The FDA couldn't even reach some companies, and Global Mix of New York didn't announce a recall until last week. The recall impacts several brands, like Eva Nutrition, Science of Alpha, Niwali, and NWL Nutra. It includes products sold in 43 different U.S. states. 

Global Mix's recall came after routine sampling revealed yellow oleander in finished products. The company stopped production and is investigating to find the root cause.

The FDA continues to receive reports of adverse events related to the products. Yellow oleander can cause fatal cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and neurologic problems. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cardiac changes.

According to the FDA, many of these products are still available on very popular marketplaces, including the e-commerce behemoth that made $396 billion in net sales last year. 

According to the CDC, misbranded dietary supplements frequently contain potentially dangerous substances. As supplement use continues to increase throughout the U.S., it's important to remember that the FDA does not approve these compounds, and the side effects have not been studied. Tejocote root was promoted on social media for weight loss. 

According to the CDC, issues with yellow oleander in these supplements go back until at least September 2022, when a two-year-old kid in New Jersey suffered severe symptoms after ingesting it.

The FDA's investigation continues, and an ongoing list of products containing toxic substances is available on the FDA's website.  

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