» RELATED: Beware: Mixing herbal products with medication could be dangerous
Herbal medicines, or herbal supplements, are products that contain a plant or a combination of plants as the primary ingredient. Those aimed at weight loss can be composed of white kidney bean, green tea and African mango.
According to the study’s authors, 1,000 weight loss dietary supplements were included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods without evaluation of efficacy between 1996 and 2006.
“The problem with supplements is that unlike pharmaceutical drugs, clinical evidence is not required before they are made available to the public in supermarkets or chemists,” Fuller said.
The supplements can be sold and marketed to the public with sponsors — defined as those who import, export or manufacture goods — required to have but not necessarily provide evidence backing their claims. Just 20% of new listings are annually audited to make sure the sponsors meet the requirement, the authors noted.
“The growth in the industry and popularity of these products highlights the importance of conducting more robust studies on the effectiveness and safety of these supplements for weight loss,” Fuller said.