Consumer Reports' 'Dirty Dozen': 12 Risky Supplements

Consumer Reports lists the products that may do more harm than good.

ByABC News
August 2, 2010, 7:19 PM

Aug. 3, 2010— -- Last year, Americans spent nearly $27 billion on dietary supplements -- but critics say some of them could be risky.

On "Good Morning America," ABC News senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser discussed the "dirty dozen" supplement ingredients list released by Consumer Reports.

While the products on the list may not be the top sellers in the category, they are both popular and readily available on health store aisles.

To learn whether you may be taking one or more of these "dirty dozen" products, have a look at CR's list below. And if you have any questions about the supplements you may be taking, remember to talk openly and honestly with your doctor. Your health may be at stake.

1. Aconite

Other names: aconiti tuber, aconitum, radix aconiti

Purported uses: Inflammation, joint pain, wounds, gout

Possible risks: Toxicity, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, respiratory system paralysis, heart rhythm disorders, death

2. Bitter Orange

Other names: aurantii fructus, citrus aurantium, zhi shi

Purported uses: Weight loss, nasal congestion, allergies

Possible risks: Fainting, heart-rhythm disorders, heart attack, stroke, death

3. Chaparral

Other names: creosote bush, larrea divaricata, larreastat

Purported uses: Colds, weight loss, infections, inflammation, cancer, detoxification

Possible risks: Liver damage, kidney problems

4. Colloidal Silver

Other names: ionic silver, native silver, silver in suspending agent

Purported uses: Fungal and other infections, Lyme disease, rosacea, psoriasis, food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS

Possible risks: Bluish skin, mucous membrane discoloration, neurological problems, kidney damage

5. Coltsfoot

Other names: coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort

Purported uses: Cough, sore throat, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma

Possible risks: Liver damage, cancer

6. Comfrey

Other names: blackwort, common comfrey, slippery root

Purported uses: Cough, heavy menstrual periods, chest pain, cancer

Possible risks: Liver damage, cancer

7. Country Mallow

Other names: heartleaf, sida cordifolia, silky white mallow

Purported uses: Nasal congestion, allergies, asthma, weight loss, bronchitis

Possible risks: Heart attack, heart arrhythmia, stroke, death

8. Germanium

Other names: Ge, Ge-132, germanium-132

Purported uses: Pain, infections, glaucoma, liver problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer

Possible risks: Kidney damage, death

9. Greater Celandine

Other names: celandine, chelidonii herba, Chelidonium majus

Purported uses: Upset stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, liverdisorders, detoxification, cancer.

Possible risks: Liver damage

10. Kava

Other names: awa, Piper methysticum, kava-kava

Purported uses: Anxiety

Possible risks: Liver damage

11. Lobelia

Other names: asthma weed, Lobelia inflata, pukeweed, vomit wort

Purported uses: Coughing, bronchitis, asthma, smoking cessation

Possible risks: Toxicity; overdose can cause fast heartbeat, very low blood pressure, coma, possibly death

12. Yohimbe

Other names: yohimbine, Corynanthe yohimbi, Corynanthe johimbi

Purported uses: Aphrodisiac, chest pain, diabetic complications, depression; erectile dysfunction

Possible risks: Usual doses can cause high blood pressure, rapid heart rate; high doses can cause severe low blood pressure, heart problems, death

Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Professional Version, June 2010

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