For years, crooks have laced sexual enhancement, weight-loss and bodybuilding products with drugs, even though they have been advertised as “herbs," “all natural" and “dietary supplements." Spiking supplements with pharmaceutical drugs is part of a broader adulteration problem in the natural products industry that has captured the attention of national media, international sports authorities, the federal government and attorneys general.
The American Botanical Council (ABC) not only has identified adulteration as the most significant problem in the herbal supplement industry, but the nonprofit educational organization intends to be a part of the solution.
In fall 2015, ABC planned to publish a laboratory guidance document on testing methods to identify adulterants in black cohosh, an herb that has been used to relieve symptoms of menopause. Earlier this year, the organization previously published documents on authenticating the identities of skullcap and bilberry and identifying adulterants in those herbs.
“The basis for this is the ‘c’ in cGMP, which a lot of people forget to use: current good manufacturing practices," explained ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, who referenced the 8-year-old FDA regulations governing the dietary supplement industry. “The ‘c’ is key here. Methods that were developed 10, 15 or 20 years ago to authenticate botanical material or extracts—it’s possible and likely that some of the ways that some of these herbs or extracts are being adulterated today are different than they were 10 or 20 years ago, thereby requiring refined, updated analytical methods to detect the type of adulteration in today’s market."
Based on his increasing business, Alkemist Labs CEO Élan M. Sudberg expressed the view that the problem of adulteration is improving. However, he acknowledged companies adulterating supplements are not likely to be working with his botanical testing lab. Growth in the business may reflect an increasing awareness of the problem and commitment by responsible industry to address it.
For a closer look how industry is addressing the issue of adulteration, download the complete article from INSIDER’s Content Library.