FDA Issues Warning on Dietary Supplements Containing Toxic Yellow Oleander

A recall has been issued on certain dietary supplements after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that they contained the toxic plant, yellow oleander, instead of the tejocote root they purportedly included. The deceptive products were sold on third-party platforms such as Amazon and Etsy, as well as on assorted nutrition-focused websites.

Key Takeaways:

– US FDA discloses recall of dietary supplements adulterated with toxic plant, yellow oleander.
– Supplements were falsely labeled as containing the root plant tejocote.
– Nine tested products falsely marketed as tejocote root dietary supplements contained yellow oleander.
– Consumers are advised to stop immediately and consult healthcare providers if they still have these products.

FDA Warnings on Adulterated Dietary Supplements

Following the FDA’s January 5th warning, the recall has been initiated as the supplements labeled as tejocote root were found to have been ‘adulterated’, with yellow oleander highly toxic to humans – being substituted for the root substance. Symptoms from ingesting yellow oleander can range from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to more dire health effects such as stomach pain, cardiac changes, and dysrhythmia, and could even potentially prove fatal.

The FDA has so far tested a total of nine dietary supplements, all listed as containing the tejocote root, and found yellow oleander in each one. Accordingly, more such products are being scrutinized for further testing.

Channels of Toxic Supplements Distribution

At least five of the supplements were available on Amazon, two on Etsy, and another pair on different nutrition-focused websites. Newsweek reached for their comments via email but is yet to receive their response.

Testing began due to an alarming report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September 2023, which revealed numerous instances of tejocote root being replaced with yellow oleander.

Public Health Risk from Unregulated Supplements

This revelation raises severe public health concerns as more similar dietary supplements, especially those marketed as containing tejocote root but listed under different names such as Crataegus mexicana, Raiz de Tejocote and Mexican Hawthorn, could be carrying the same risks.

A study by the National Institutes of Health in 2010 analyzed the health effects on 21 individuals who had consumed yellow oleander seeds. About 61% of them developed adverse conditions afterwards. Most of these patients were in good health before consuming the plant, leading the authors to conclude that their resultant cardiac arrhythmias were not due to preexisting conditions but directly related to yellow oleander ingestion.

Important Information for Consumers

In the light of this recall, the FDA has urged anyone who is still consuming these products to cease doing so immediately and to contact their healthcare professionals for consultation on precautionary steps. In any case of severe side effects, immediate medical help should be sought by calling 911.

Despite the recall, the US does not require FDA approval for such dietary supplements neither must the manufacturers prove their products’ safety or health benefits before marketing them. With lax regulations thus enabling easy access to these products, nearly three-quarters of Americans continue to buy and use them. The recent discovery of toxic elements, however, has instigated a demand for more stringent oversight to prevent such occurrences and protect consumer health.


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