Quality of Popular Herbal Anti-Depressant Found to Vary - Certain Types of St. John's Wort Supplements More Likely to Pass Testing -

Apr 11, 2001, 01:00 ET from ConsumerLab.com, LLC

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- ConsumerLab.com, an
 independent evaluator of dietary supplements and nutrition products, today
 released results of its Product Review of St. John's wort supplements.  These
 supplements are popularly used to treat mild to moderate depression and to
 relieve depression-related anxiety.  Twenty-one St. John's wort products were
 purchased and tested for levels of specific plant compounds speculated to be
 responsible for the herb's therapeutic effects, and cadmium, a known
 carcinogen and potential toxin that the St. John's wort plant selectively
 accumulates while growing.  Neither the FDA nor any other federal or state
 agency routinely tests St. John's wort products, or other supplements, for
 quality prior to sale.
     One-third of the 21 brands of St. John's wort did not pass testing for the
 following reasons (with several of the products failing for more than one
 reason): Four products had insufficient levels of the compound hypericin
 (ranging from 77% to 85% of the amount expected); one product had only 21.7%
 of the claimed amount of the compound hyperforin; and five products exceeded
 the review's limit for cadmium.  Although the cadmium levels in these products
 alone would not pose a serious health risk, they represent avoidable sources
 of cadmium.  There is a relatively small safety margin between normal exposure
 to cadmium and exposure that can cause harm.
     Consumers have been advised to look for St. John's wort products that
 explicitly list hypericin or hyperforin content on their labels.  While these
 are important chemical markers to look for in products, ConsumerLab.com did
 not find such claims to guarantee that products would meet their claims or
 pass testing.  ConsumerLab.com found, however, that products most likely to
 pass claimed to be made from St. John's wort "flower" or "flower and leaves."
 Products less likely to have passed were labeled to contain "aerial" portions
 of St. John's wort (a more general term that includes all above-ground parts,
 including stems) and were more likely to contain raw herb as an ingredient, as
 opposed to extract-only products.
     Tod Cooperman, M.D., ConsumerLab.com's President, commented,  "Because the
 St. John's wort user is typically battling depression, it is particularly
 important that these products deliver what they claim.  A switch to a lower
 quality product could result in lower efficacy, although the user might not
 suspect the product as the cause."
     The general findings are available at http://www.consumerlab.com.
 ConsumerLab.com's online subscribers can also access the complete list of CL
 Approved Quality Products and CL's ConsumerTips(TM) on buying and using St.
 John's wort.  Similar information from ConsumerLab.com's recent Product
 Reviews of Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine,
 ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, multivitamins/multiminerals, SAM-e, saw palmetto,
 and vitamins C and E are also available.  Other Product Reviews scheduled for
 release this year include Echinacea, soy isoflavones, valerian, MSM, and
 protein/energy bars.  ConsumerLab.com's Buyer's Guide to Supplements is to be
 published in print later this year.  To further assist consumers,
 ConsumerLab.com licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality (see The
 CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on products that have passed its
 evaluations.
 
     ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and
 independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition.  The
 company is privately held and headquartered in White Plains, New York. It has
 no ownership from or interest in companies that manufacture, distribute, or
 sell consumer products. Subscription to Consumerlab.com's Product Reviews is
 available online.  Parties interested in purchasing comprehensive Product
 Review Technical Reports, licensing content, or requesting testing of
 additional products may contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business
 Development, at lisa.sabin@consumerlab.com.
 
 

SOURCE ConsumerLab.com, LLC
    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- ConsumerLab.com, an
 independent evaluator of dietary supplements and nutrition products, today
 released results of its Product Review of St. John's wort supplements.  These
 supplements are popularly used to treat mild to moderate depression and to
 relieve depression-related anxiety.  Twenty-one St. John's wort products were
 purchased and tested for levels of specific plant compounds speculated to be
 responsible for the herb's therapeutic effects, and cadmium, a known
 carcinogen and potential toxin that the St. John's wort plant selectively
 accumulates while growing.  Neither the FDA nor any other federal or state
 agency routinely tests St. John's wort products, or other supplements, for
 quality prior to sale.
     One-third of the 21 brands of St. John's wort did not pass testing for the
 following reasons (with several of the products failing for more than one
 reason): Four products had insufficient levels of the compound hypericin
 (ranging from 77% to 85% of the amount expected); one product had only 21.7%
 of the claimed amount of the compound hyperforin; and five products exceeded
 the review's limit for cadmium.  Although the cadmium levels in these products
 alone would not pose a serious health risk, they represent avoidable sources
 of cadmium.  There is a relatively small safety margin between normal exposure
 to cadmium and exposure that can cause harm.
     Consumers have been advised to look for St. John's wort products that
 explicitly list hypericin or hyperforin content on their labels.  While these
 are important chemical markers to look for in products, ConsumerLab.com did
 not find such claims to guarantee that products would meet their claims or
 pass testing.  ConsumerLab.com found, however, that products most likely to
 pass claimed to be made from St. John's wort "flower" or "flower and leaves."
 Products less likely to have passed were labeled to contain "aerial" portions
 of St. John's wort (a more general term that includes all above-ground parts,
 including stems) and were more likely to contain raw herb as an ingredient, as
 opposed to extract-only products.
     Tod Cooperman, M.D., ConsumerLab.com's President, commented,  "Because the
 St. John's wort user is typically battling depression, it is particularly
 important that these products deliver what they claim.  A switch to a lower
 quality product could result in lower efficacy, although the user might not
 suspect the product as the cause."
     The general findings are available at http://www.consumerlab.com.
 ConsumerLab.com's online subscribers can also access the complete list of CL
 Approved Quality Products and CL's ConsumerTips(TM) on buying and using St.
 John's wort.  Similar information from ConsumerLab.com's recent Product
 Reviews of Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine,
 ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, multivitamins/multiminerals, SAM-e, saw palmetto,
 and vitamins C and E are also available.  Other Product Reviews scheduled for
 release this year include Echinacea, soy isoflavones, valerian, MSM, and
 protein/energy bars.  ConsumerLab.com's Buyer's Guide to Supplements is to be
 published in print later this year.  To further assist consumers,
 ConsumerLab.com licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality (see The
 CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on products that have passed its
 evaluations.
 
     ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and
 independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition.  The
 company is privately held and headquartered in White Plains, New York. It has
 no ownership from or interest in companies that manufacture, distribute, or
 sell consumer products. Subscription to Consumerlab.com's Product Reviews is
 available online.  Parties interested in purchasing comprehensive Product
 Review Technical Reports, licensing content, or requesting testing of
 additional products may contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business
 Development, at lisa.sabin@consumerlab.com.
 
 SOURCE  ConsumerLab.com, LLC