Supplement May Harm Health — New research warns that a number of weight loss and workout supplements contain potentially harmful doses of a substance that has been ruled as unsafe.
As reported in Medical News Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ban all athletes from taking any drugs or supplements that include higenamine, a beta-2 agonist that may have toxic effects on the heart.
Yet despite the fact that higenamine is banned by the WADA, and that it might be harmful to people’s cardiovascular health, many dietary supplements still contain it as a substance that naturally occurs in certain plants, such as aconite.
The researchers — including John Travis, a senior research scientist at NSF International in Ann Arbor, MI — have revealed not only that higenamine is a widely used supplement ingredient, but also that companies that produce such supplements do not properly list the dosage at which this ingredient is used.
“We’re urging competitive and amateur athletes, as well as general consumers, to think twice before consuming a product that contains higenamine,” says Travis.
“Beyond the doping risk for athletes,” he adds, “some of these products contain extremely high doses of a stimulant with unknown safety and potential cardiovascular risks when consumed.”
The researchers analyzed 24 supplements for weight loss or preworkout that listed higenamine — also known as norcoclaurine and demethylcoclaurine — and noticed that they featured widely varying and unreliable amounts of this substance.
The 24 products tested in the study were: Adrenal Pump, Apidren, Beta-Stim, Burn-HC, Defcon1 Second Strike, Diablo, DyNO, Gnar Pump, Higenamine, High Definition, HyperMax, iBurn2, Liporidex Max, Liporidex PLUS, LipoRUSH DS2, N.O. Vate, OxyShred, Prostun-Advanced Thermogenic, Pyroxamine, Razor8, Ritual Pre-Workout Supplement, Stim Shot, ThermoVate, and Uplift.
Worryingly, of all the supplements that the researchers looked at, only five products mentioned an exact quantity of higenamine. However, when the supplements were tested, Travis and his colleagues found that the listed quantities were incorrect.
Actual quantities of higenamine across the range of products included anything from trace amounts to 62 milligrams per serving. However, based on the label instructions, users may actually take up to 110 milligrams of the substance per day, which may harm their health in unpredictable ways.
“Some plants, such as ephedra, contain stimulants. If you take too much of the stimulants found in ephedra, it can have life-threatening consequences,” explains study co-author Dr. Pieter Cohen.
“Similarly,” he adds, “higenamine is a stimulant found in plants. When it comes to higenamine, we don’t yet know for certain what effect high dosages will have in the human body, but a series of preliminary studies suggest that it might have profound effects on the heart and other organs.”
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2015, about 23,005 emergency department visits in the United States are related to supplement intake.