You may get more than you bargained for in that batch of dietary supplements you just picked up from your local health store. Researchers are warning consumers to look closely at the labels of their supplements as they have discovered an amphetamine like stimulant in many of the dietary supplements.
This amphetamine-like stimulant was first discovered in many dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and after two years researchers have found that the substance still remains on the ingredient list.
The stimulant is known as betamethylphenylethylamine, or BMPEA, and is found in supplements that contain Acacia rigidula. Researchers over 2 years tested 21 brains of Acacia rigidula and discovered the stimulant. In the latest report they revealed the BMPEA is still being used in many dietary supplements.
The products tested by researchers are mainly used to improve performance, enhance cognitive function and improve weight loss.
An FDA spokeswoman, JuliAnn Putnam, said the agency's "first priority" is to ensure dietary supplements are safe. "While our review of the available information on products containing BMPEA does not identify a specific safety concern at this time, the FDA will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers," she said.
Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and who led the study said that FDA should warn costumers about BMPEA and should take actions to eliminate the stimulant from dietary supplements and it should not wait until someone gets killed by it and should take immediate steps.
"The FDA should immediately warn consumers about BMPEA and take aggressive enforcement action to eliminate BMPEA in dietary supplements," the study said. "Physicians should remain vigilant for patients presenting with toxicity from sports and weight-loss supplements as they might contain undisclosed stimulants, such as BMPEA."
One manufacturer, Vitacost, said it would pull from its website all products that contain BMPEA.
"The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority," said Kathleen Reed, director of financial planning and analysis for Vitacost, a unit of grocery giant Kroger Co.
"While the FDA has not declared the fat-burning ingredient BMPEA to be harmful, we take safety concerns very seriously for all of the 45,000+ products sold on Vitacost.com," she said.
Mark O'Brian, interim chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the study's finding that BMPEA was present in supplements was troubling.
"It's something no one should be taking at all, and certainly not unknowingly," said O'Brian, who read the study in advance of publication but was not involved in it.