Certain weight loss supplements marketed as ‘natural’ alternatives to conventional weight loss drugs have been found to contain a lethal plant species known as yellow oleander. This alarming discovery raised serious concerns about the safety and authenticity of such products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued stern warnings about these fraudulent dietary supplements.
These products, which gained popularity on social media platforms like TikTok, were found to be composed entirely of yellow oleander, a shrub notorious for its deadly toxicity.
Haters will say it's Ozempic pic.twitter.com/RCx9W8xWjq
— Eliza Bayne (@ElizaBayne) September 13, 2023
Two specific cases of poisoning due to these supplements have been reported. In New Jersey, a 23-month-old child exhibited an abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure after consuming one of these products.
The child’s condition normalized only after receiving an antibody antidote for yellow oleander poisoning. Similarly, in Maryland, a man was hospitalized with symptoms consistent with yellow oleander poisoning. This included nausea, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, and high blood potassium levels.
The FDA specifically targeted Nut Diet Max brand Nuez de la India capsules and seeds, and Todorganic Natural Products brand Nuez de la India seeds in its warning. The agency advised consumers to immediately stop using these products and contact their healthcare providers if they have consumed any of them.
The CDC-affiliated lab in Oregon tested ten products claiming to contain tejocote root, a supplement promoted online for weight loss.
Shockingly, nine out of these ten products were found to be made up entirely of yellow oleander, not the plant mentioned on the labels. These products are readily available from online retailers and are sold at major retailers including Walmart and Amazon.
— Matthew A. Dolman (@dolmanlaw) September 6, 2023
In another case, a 21-year-old woman in Texas experienced severe nausea and vomiting after consuming a candlenut, which was later suspected to be yellow oleander.
She developed heart block, a condition where the electrical signals from the top two chambers of the heart do not travel to the two lower chambers, causing the heart to beat too slowly or skip beats.
These incidents underscore the urgent need for stricter regulation and oversight of dietary supplement manufacturers.
Currently, the FDA does not require manufacturers to prove the safety and effectiveness of their ingredients before marketing, creating a risky environment for consumers.
While ‘natural’ weight loss supplements may seem like an attractive alternative to conventional weight loss drugs, consumers must exercise caution.