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Thyrotoxicosis Caused by Weight-Reducing Herbal Medicines
In a case report in the April 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers reported that the nonprescription weight control herbal supplements Dream Shape and Ever Youth had rapid, adverse  effects on thyroid hormone levels resulting in thyrotoxicosis. The investigators, led by Hidemi Ohye, M.D.,  reported on 12 patients they saw with thyrotoxicosis who had ingested the two nonprescription weight control herbal medicines, both apparently imported from China. All 12 patients had some level of thyrotoxicosis that alleviated once use of the herbal pills stopped. Dream Shape and Ever Youth became available for sale in Japan in 2000 and are sold on the Internet. IncreaseYourHealth.com is a website which sells Dream Shape.  In March 2004, the FDA issued a warning letter to IncreaseYourHealth.com, alleging unsubstantiated scientific claims. Arch Intern Med., April 2005

Some Herbal Medicine Products Contain Potentially Toxic Amounts of Heavy Metals Researchers examined Ayurvedic herbal medication products manufactured in South Asia and sold in Boston-area stores in order to examine their heavy metal content. From April to October 2003, the researchers purchased 70 different products at stores within 20 miles of Boston City Hall. Concentrations of lead, mercury and arsenic were measured in the samples.

The researchers found that 14 (20 percent) of the 70 herbal medication products (HMPs) contained lead, mercury and/or arsenic, and that if taken as recommended by the manufacturer, each of these could result in heavy metal intake above the published regulatory standards. Lead was found in 13 HMPs; mercury in six HMPs; and arsenic in six HMPs. Half of the products containing potentially toxic heavy metals were recommended for children. The 14 HMPs containing heavy metals were manufactured by 11 different companies. Of the 30 stores visited, 24 sold at least one heavy metal-containing HMP.

The researchers advised that Ayurvedic Herbal Medication Product users should consult their physicians about heavy metal screening. Also their findings support calls for reform of DSHEA that would require mandatory testing of all imported dietary supplements for toxic heavy metals. from the American Medical Association

Dream Shape and Ever Youth Weight Loss Herbal Products, found to have rapid adverse effects on thyroid hormone levels Archives of Internal Medicine

Botanical Dietary Supplements: Background Information from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health.

--Written by N Thompson, ARNP in collaboration with M Thompson, MD, Internal Medicine, Updated June 2005

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