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J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Nov;13(9):1035-43.

Evaluation of internet websites marketing herbal weight-loss supplements to consumers.

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  • 1Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy-Glendale, Glendale, AZ 85308, USA.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality and quantity of drug information available to consumers on Internet websites marketing herbal weight-loss dietary supplements in the United States.


We conducted an Internet search using the search engines Yahoo and Google and the keywords "herbal weight loss." Website content was evaluated for the presence of active/inactive ingredient names and strengths and other Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements. Information related to drug safety for the most common herbal ingredients in the products evaluated was compared against standard herbal drug information references.


Thirty-two (32) websites were evaluated for labeling requirements and safety information. All sites listed an FDA disclaimer statement and most sites (84.4%) listed active ingredients, although few listed strengths or inactive ingredients. Based on the drug information for the most common ingredients found in the weight-loss dietary supplements evaluated, potential contraindications for cardiovascular conditions, pregnancy/nursing, and high blood pressure were listed most frequently (73%, 65.5%, and 37%, respectively), whereas few websites listed potential drug interactions or adverse reactions.


Potential hazards posed by dietary supplements may not be accurately, if at all, represented on Internet websites selling these products. Since consumers may not approach their physicians or pharmacists for information regarding use of dietary supplements in weight loss, it becomes necessary for health care providers to actively engage their patients in open discussion regarding the use, benefits, and hazards of dietary supplements.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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