Herbal Supplements and Heart Trouble


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — If you take dietary or herbal supplements, buyer beware … cardiologists are reporting a recent surge in heart problems in people in their twenties and thirties. This adds to the concern that some heart doctors have voiced for years about other supplements, including calcium.

Bitter orange for heartburn or nausea, ephedra for colds, and fish oil for heart health.

But instead of boosting your health, could they hurt your heart? Some cardiologists say these supplements, which are mostly unregulated, have contributed to irregular heartbeats in people under 30.

Johns Hopkins, Preventive Cardiologist, Erin Michos has studied dietary supplements and the heart for years. She’s focused on the impact of calcium supplements. Good for bones, but maybe bad for the heart.

Doctor Michos says, “So many individuals are taking these, when many well-done clinical trials have shown that these supplements are no better than placebo and they may be a waste of money and in worst case scenario, there may be some harm.”

Instead, Doctor Michos and other experts encourage patients to alter their diets to get the nutrients they need.

“I really push my patients to try to get that from food sources alone.” Explains Doctor Michos.

So … more milk, cheese and yogurt for a calcium boost. Here are some other substitutions: rub bitter orange on the skin instead of ingesting it and you’ll still have the benefits, use green tea extract instead of ephedra, and for those omega threes eat salmon or mackerel instead of taking fish oil. Healthy substitutes that may also protect your heart.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the NIH, there are reports of otherwise healthy people fainting and having chest pain after taking a supplement that contained bitter orange as one of many ingredients. But experts say, it’s hard to know if bitter orange caused the health problem. Also, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, has placed bitter orange on its current list of banned drugs, listing it as a stimulant.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.






REPORT #3029

BACKGROUND: Herbal Supplements are dietary supplements that are regulated by the food and drug administration but are not as strict as prescription and counter medications. Herbal supplements must have research to support their claims, be free of contamination, and be free of medical claims containing cures. The FDA can remove an herbal supplement from the market at any time and they must hold up to their standards. The FDA requires herbal supplements to provide the name and address of their manufacturer, a complete list of contained ingredients, and particular serving sizes of the ingredients and supplement. It is recommended you do not take herbal supplements if you are under 18 or over 65. If you are having surgery, pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking other prescription medications it is also recommended that you do not take herbal supplements. Regarding the safety of supplements, track what you take, do not exceed serving size limits, follow instructions, and follow updates regarding the supplements you take.



THE STUDY: There has been recent dismay regarding herbal supplements in studies of individuals in their twenties and thirties taking them. Higher rates of heart arrhythmias and other heart issues have been reported in those taking herbal supplements, especially containing orange and ephedra, both of which have been linked to abnormal heartbeat. Experts say the U.S. does not closely regulate the wellness industry and is keeping not close enough tabs on supplements or their ingredients. This had led to a rise in heart issues of individuals taking many supplements. The FDA banned the sale of ephedra as an ingredient in supplements. The supplements had reported association with cases of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. While orange bitters were historically known to aid in constipation, suppress appetite, and help with heartburn, many supplements containing orange bitter also contain ephedra.





NEW REGULATIONS: Due to recent research and reported medical issues, congress passed legislature to ban certain herbal supplements to protect consumers. The Dietary Supplement Listing Act 2022 was created and states that the FDA must list all the ingredients in their products approved along with allergens, warnings, and possible risk factors in detail. This was passed due to the report of over four thousand hospitalizations between 2004-2013 regarding herbal supplements. The FDA continues to report warning letters to businesses participating in illegal marketing and advertising harmful products.



* For More Information, Contact:                        

Erin Michos, MD, MHS


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