A Third of Herbal Supplements Don’t Contain the Herb on the Label

Using DNA barcoding, Canadian researchers tested 44 popular supplements and found that a third of them weren’t what they claimed to be. Here’s the New York Times:

Many were adulterated with ingredients not listed on the label, like rice, soybean and wheat, which are used as fillers.

In some cases, these fillers were the only plant detected in the bottle …

The herbal supplement industry is reacting with feigned disbelief. Stefan Gafner, the chief science officer at the non-profit herbal-supplement promoter, American Botanical Council, said:

I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks according to this study.

First, this study says nothing about whether herbs can be effective remedies or preventatives. The problem with the supplements was that they did not contain the supplement, not that they did not work.

Second, the leader author of the study pointed out that “only powders and pills were used in the new research, not extracts.” So you might still be okay with extracts. Although at this point, you might be wise to be wary of the herbal supplement industry, which seems to have a pretty big problem on its hands.