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New York AG: Most 'Herbal Supplements' Are Complete and Utter Bullshit

Illustration for article titled New York AG: Most Herbal Supplements Are Complete and Utter Bullshit

The New York attorney general has ordered GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to clean house. He says they're selling fraudulently labeled, bullshit "herbal supplements" that've got to go, pronto, and he also wants to know exactly how they're verifying the products they carry.

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That's according to the New York Times. Tests by AG Eric T. Schneiderman's office suggest many supplements sold at these major retailers are roughly as reliable as a poultice purchased from a drunk, grime-encrusted apothecary in the backwoods of 13th century England. Maybe less! At least he'd sell you something really made of roasted vipers:

The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.

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For instance: ginseng pills sold at Walgreens were made of powdered garlic and rice; half the products tested from Target contained "powdered rice, beans, peas and wild carrots" but not the herbs promised. Target hasn't responded yet; Walgreens has promised to chuck all the offending supplements. The other stores lapsed into corp-speak:

Walmart said it would reach out to the suppliers of its supplements "and take appropriate action."

A spokeswoman for GNC said that the company would cooperate with the attorney general "in all appropriate ways," but that it stood behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements. The company said it tested all of its products "using validated and widely used testing methods."

Anyway, just your regular reminder that supplements are not rigorously checked by the FDA, and also that the world is full of greedy liars!

Photo via Shutterstock/monticello.

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DISCUSSION

Why are people so determined to believe that medical science is a big fat conspiracy while naturopaths and nutritionists selling pills are bound to be on your side?