View Single Post
Old 07-16-2002, 10:13 PM   #13
MrsJim's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Posts: 5,020


Just a word of warning:

Any product touting itself as a 'miracle' product most definitely is NOT.

Think about it...if there truly was such a that would cause effortless fat loss...wouldn't it be on the front page of the NY Times? The cover of People? I mean, obesity is the #1 health care epidemic in America today...think about it...

And did the website tell you just exactly WHAT this 'miracle herb' is? What the product contains? My guess is it's either an ephedra/caffeine/asprin stack or one of the many other 'weight-loss miracle' products already sold in drugstores around the country.

Check this out:
Many over-the-counter diet supplements are herbal and are sold in health food stores. The most well known herbal supplements include ephedrine or ephedra, guarana, St. John's Wart, and Senna. They generally act as "fat burners" by boosting your metabolism. They may be successful weight loss supplements in the short term.

Con: Herbal supplements are generally not advised by the established medical community, including stark warnings from the FDA. Widespread lack of ingredient labeling and knowledgable health store salespeople exemplify the concept of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. The real problem with herbal supplements is not their effectiveness, but their side effects, which often include drastic increases in blood pressure and heart problems. If you ever have questions about herbal supplements, write down the primary ingredients and look them up at And ask yourself, if there really was some "miracle" herb, would not pharmaceutical companies research and bring them to the mainstream market as soon as possible.

The following review article appears at It is an excellent review.

Weight-Loss Warning

Shoppers searching for dietary supplements in health food stores may get useless, even deadly, advice. The industry says it is improving and policing itself.
WebMD Medical News. Reviewed by Dominique S. Walton, MD, MBA

Dec. 11, 2000 -- The herb ephedra can cause some serious side effects, from high blood pressure to strokes and seizures. But the clerk at the health food store didn't mention any of that when I asked her for a product that would help me lose 10 pounds.

Instead, she suggested some products that might do the trick: meal replacement shakes, pyruvate (a substance said to increase metabolism) and L-carnitine (a so-called fat burner).

On I went to four other health food stores, asking the same question. The list of recommendations got longer, with clerks suggesting other types of "fat burners," chitosan (promoted as a fat absorber), ciwuja (a relative of ginseng promoted as a fat metabolism booster), and green tea extract.

Each clerk sounded convinced that the product he or she was recommending was the best for weight loss. Never mind that I didn't see a single piece of literature confirming that the products worked (even though I often asked). And although some of the suggested products contained ephedra (sometimes called ma huang), no one mentioned what I already knew: that two San Francisco researchers recently found an alarming number of ill effects, including high blood pressure and stroke, associated with that supplement.

In wake of Congress deregulating the health food industry with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the business of handing out unproven remedies has mushroomed to a $15 billion industry. Doctors and herbalists alike are becoming concerned that many people are spending their money for substances that will not help and may even hurt them.

So when it comes to getting advice at the health food store, the quality of the advice being dispensed is anyone's guess, and the environment is definitely caveat emptor, or "let the buyer beware." That point was brought home not only by my personal experiences, but also by at least three recent medical journal reports:

The San Francisco doctors reviewed 140 reports of ill effects related to the use of dietary supplements containing ephedra and concluded that almost two-thirds either were definitely, probably, or possibly associated with use of the supplement. High blood pressure was the single most frequent adverse effect, followed by heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, stroke, and seizures. Due to potential public health implications, the findings were released early by The New England Journal of Medicine, which plans to publish the final version of the report Dec. 21.

A University of Hawaii researcher who posed as the daughter of a breast cancer patient and visited 40 health food stores in Hawaii asking for advice was frequently told her mother should take shark cartilage, an unproven remedy that has been associated with liver toxicity, nausea, fever, and other ill effects in cancer patients. Her study appears in the August 2000 issue of the Archives of Family Medicine.

Doctors from Belgium and Germany discovered that the Chinese herb Aristolochia fangchi may cause not only kidney failure but urinary tract cancer, according to a report published June 8 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers followed 105 patients treated with the herb at a Belgium weight loss clinic. End-stage renal (or kidney) failure developed in 43. And nearly half of the 39 who agreed to preventive removal of the kidneys were found to have urinary tract cancer. The FDA issued an import alert on the herb to ban its entry into the country.

This information doesn't seem to have filtered down to those who sell supplements. When I recently called the same five health food stores I had visited, asking if they carried aristolochia, four said no and one clerk asked me to call back when her boss returned. No one mentioned the import ban, and one suggested he might be able to order the herb for me.

So what should health food store clerks tell you and what can you do to protect yourself while supplement-shopping? How can consumers decide if they are being given potentially dangerous medical advice?

The fine line

The fine line between selling and giving medical advice is of concern to the health food industry, too, insiders say. Those who sell supplements should know their product, says Gayle Engels, a spokeswoman for the American Botanical Council, an education and research organization in Austin, Texas. But they should not dispense any medical advice. "All the information we put out says, 'This information is not intended to replace the information provided by a health care professional.'"

To be on the safe side, "retailers should not go much beyond label statements," says Diane McEnroe, an attorney for Sidley & Austin, the general counsel for the National Nutritional Foods Association, an industry group based in Newport Beach, Calif., representing health food stores and manufacturers and suppliers. The best response to someone like me who asks for help in losing weight, McEnroe says, is to tell the customer there are a variety of products that help with weight loss and that they work different ways: some affect metabolism, others help with the absorption of fat, for instance.

A clerk would cross the line, McEnroe adds, if he or she talked about obesity, a disease, or miracle solutions designed to be taken at night so you lose weight as you sleep. Under DSHEA, claims about how a dietary supplement may help prevent or treat a particular disease condition are not permitted. A consumer interested in weight loss supplements should also expect to hear about the importance of a good diet and exercise program, McEnroe says.

Health food stores can also distribute promotional literature from the manufacturer if the claims are limited to what's known as structure and function claims (this supplement helps preserve joint maintenance) and not disease claims (it can't cure arthritis). Consumers should also expect to see more "third party literature" -- reports about supplements authored by independent experts that don't mention supplements by brand name, which are also permitted under DSHEA.

There's no standardized training for health food store employees, but large chains insist they invest heavily in employee training. "We have invested millions of dollars in a state-of-the-art interactive training programs to ensure that employees are educated on GNC brand products and their benefits," says Roberta Gaffga, a company spokeswoman.

More on my shopping trip

When I visited the five health food stores -- four chains, one mom-and-pop -- no one promised me miracle weight loss and no one talked about obesity. One clerk, at a GNC near Los Angeles, quizzed me before suggesting anything. She asked how old I was, whether I had high blood pressure or heart disease, whether I worked out, and how nutritious my diet is.

Her questioning, however, was the exception. No other clerk asked a thing about my health habits or medical history.

Consumer, educate yourself

In the current deregulated climate, consumers should educate themselves before even setting foot in a health food store, suggests Varro Tyler, PhD, professor emeritus of pharmacognosy at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and an herbal expert. Most health food employees, he says, are business people. "And many [stores} hire young people, high school students, as clerks, and probably they repeat what they heard the boss tell them" about products.

And what does Tyler think of the recommendations I got? Meal replacements will help if you don't also eat a meal, he says, but pyruvate, L-carnitine, chitosan, and ciwuja are all unproven for weight loss. Green tea extract, if it includes caffeine, will help burn more calories, he says, but the weight loss effect is negligible. Ephedra with caffeine formulas work best for weight loss, he adds, but many people's health histories make those products risky to take.

Tyler proposes that the industry set up some sort of standardized educational program. But, he adds, "I don't think it will ever happen."

Meanwhile, consumers should read up on supplements before going to the store, Tyler says. Among the bibles in the field: Tyler's Honest Herbal, by Tyler and Steven Foster, now in its fourth edition; and Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs, edited by Mark Blumenthal, founder of the American Botanical Council.

"Get information from someone who is not selling the product," Tyler urges. "Trust authors who do not have an herb company."

It can't hurt, as well, to keep an ear out for medical journal reports publicized in the press, such as the recent ephedra supplement study.

Kathleen Doheny is a Los Angeles-based health journalist whose work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Modern Maturity,, and other publications.

Always consult your doctor or physician before taking herbal supplements.
The above article is located at: http://www.************.com/herbalsupplements.html

And from Krista's Stumptuous website (BTW this is a GREAT site with tons of information geared towards women!)

My mantra about drugs and supplements is informed choice. I'm not going to lecture you about what is natural and what isn't, but I am going to lecture you about looking before you leap. The first thing to remember is that the supplement industry is built on hype and lies. Most legal supplements DO NOT WORK. Someone once told me that a Russian strength scientist, discussing American use of supplementation, said that Americans had the most expensive piss in the world. Of course, hope springs eternal, but most legal supplements are, sorry to say, useless.

Chromium. Touted as a majik fat loss pill. Helpful for some folks with blood sugar issues, but mostly useless otherwise. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Lukaski et al concluded that "routine chromium supplementation has no beneficial effects on body- composition change or strength gain…" (63(6):954-65, June 1996) A similar study by Hallmark et al (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 1996; 28: 139-144) concluded precisely the same thing. So no changes in fat loss or muscle gain were noted as a result of chromium intake. For normal people, chromium has no real utility. It's been suggested that long-term chromium supplementation in women might actually exacerbate or cause anemia.

Colostrum. This is the stuff that nursing women secrete for a couple of days before their real milk comes in. Leaving aside how gross it is that someone is packaging this stuff (though luckily they use bovine sources, or there'd be a lot of skinny, pissed-off infants out there), this is only useful for newborn babies.

Exercise in a Bottle. Get real. Would you buy Lasting Happiness in a Bottle? Personal Fulfillment in a Bottle? Motherhood in a Bottle? Education in a Bottle? On this planet, exercise doesn't come in a bottle; deal with it. Besides, if you really don't want to exercise, what are you doing reading this page? Ha ha ha!! I got you there.

Fat Trapper. Sure, it traps the fat, and where do you think all that clumped fat goes if you don't digest it? Buy yourself some adult diapers with every bottle of Fat Trapper, and stock up on fat-soluble vitamins to replace what gets leached out of your body. Unless you think anal leakage is sexy, don't bother. Same with Olestra. Remember, we digest our food for a reason! Throw Fat Trapper and Olestra into the toilet (for a realistic effect, shoot it out of a shotgun from across the room to simulate the explosive colonic action you'd experience from eating it), and eliminate the middle man. Here's a website on Olestra, complete with a meticulous "fecal parameters" study (conclusion: blammo!). By the way, Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle manufacturers are now in deep, uh, excrement for their ridiculous claims and are being forced to pay $10 million to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate). A great sleep aid, a useless bodybuiding aid. The dose response curve is very steep with this stuff, which means that a mistake of a couple of grams (that's grams, not ounces) in dosage can mean the difference between a buzz and death. If you choose to use GHB, be smart about it. Don't combine it with any other downers, especially alcohol. Begin by checking out

HMB. Possibly one of the crappiest of the crap, due to its hype by EAS. Used in livestock to increase intramuscular fat marbling. For some reason some supplement manufacturer figured it would make humans huge and muscley. By this logic, if humans ate dog food, we'd have nice shiny fur coats and be able to catch frisbees with our teeth.

MCTs. Medium-chain triglycerides, more easily digested than long chain fatty acids, and said to improve energy and reduce body fat. Some thermic effects have been seen in rats, but no body composition changes in humans. Aside from the danger to people with liver disease and diabetes, MCTs are also said to give you diarrhea.

Prepackaged multiproducts, like EAS's Betagen or Twinlabs Ripped Fuel. You're much better off buying individual components, which are likely cheaper, and you can control the substances and quantities. Be very wary of all-in-one supplements. Often they have filler, incorrect quantities, stuff you don't need, and stuff you shouldn't be taking.

Triax, manufactured by Syntrax and containing the ingredient tiratricol, aka triiodothyroacetic acid (TRIAC). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported that this product may cause serious health consequences including heart attacks and strokes. Some subjects were found to have abnormal thyroid function test results while using Triax. These individuals had sought medical attention because of symptoms such as severe diarrhea, fatigue, lethargy or profound weight loss. Also manufactured by Syntrax is the product LipoKinetics, a weight loss product which is also under FDA review for causing serious liver damage. From the FDA website: "LipoKinetix has been promoted for weight loss by 'mimicking exercise' and supporting 'an increased metabolic rate'. The product contains norephedrine (also known as phenylpropanolamine or PPA), caffeine, yohimbine, diiodothyronine, and sodium usniate." I think the FDA overreacts sometimes, but this product is crap.

Tyrosine. An amino acid used in neurotransmitter production, and supposed to rev you up before you work out. The human body synthesizes tyrosine on its own, and there is no evidence that this stuff really works as a workout booster. Some folks do like it and there is some evidence that it should work, but it seems to require large doses. You'll get better results from a preworkout cup of coffee.

Weight Gainers. Most women don't get into this, but skinny teenage boys suck this stuff up like crazy, desperately hoping not to get their faces pushed into the lockers by Biff the Football Jock again. Unfortunately, these are mostly just low-grade sugar and flavouring. Sure, you'll gain weight from them, but then you won't be the class skinny kid, you'll be the class fat kid. Your number one weight gainer should be real food, and lots of it.

Vanadyl sulfate, aka vanadium. Vanadium is a trace metal which has not yet been proven to be used by the body. It seems to perform a function similar to insulin, which is to enable the body to use sugar for energy, but in humans its efficacy and mechanism has not been definitively proven. Most research has been done on diabetic rats, and has shown that dosages high enough to be effective had the untidy side effect of causing the little critters to be metabolically challenged. Which is known in laywoman's terms as dead. Moreover, it was concluded that in nondiabetic rats, vanadyl had no effect at al. No similar studies in humans have been conducted, seeing as it would be dreadfully awkward to off a bunch of diabetics with this stuff. A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition (Fawcett JP et al, 6(4):382-90, 1996) concluded that "oral vanadyl sulfate was ineffective in changing body composition in weight-training athletes, and any modest performance-enhancing effect requires further investigation." In other words, no fat was lost or muscle added, and a very slight improvement in performance on one exercise was more likely to be due to factors other than supplementation. The thing you hear most about this supplement is that it gives you a great "pump", which is that feeling of fullness in your muscles after you work out. Sorry, but in serious training we do not deal in "pumps". Stand on your head for 30 seconds. Your head now has a great "pump". Are you smarter? Good, then you'll be smart enough not to buy this stuff.
Mrs. Jim
Highest weight: 265 pounds, size 24/26 (May 1990)
May 1991: 174 pounds (-91 lbs)
September 1996: 155 pounds (-110 lbs)
*LIVING at: 145-149 pounds, size 4/6 (-116/120 lbs)

*Maintenance = LIVING.
Posts by members, moderators and admins are not considered medical advice and no guarantee is made against accuracy. Please see your physician before taking advice found on the internet.

Wanna know how I lost the weight and have kept it off for over 16 years? Click here!
MrsJim is offline