​Calls to poison control centers rose by nearly 50 percent.

​Dietary Supplements Are Poisoning More and More People

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Homepathic agents contributed to the most number of calls, at 36 percent of the total, followed by botanicals at 32 percent, and hormonal supplements—including sleep aid melatonin and male-hormone boosters—at 15 percent. (These are 3 supplements that work—and 3 that are just wasting your money.)

Only about 5 percent of the calls resulted in serious medical outcomes, and the majority of them were in small children. Energy products and botanicals had the highest proportion of any category for leading to severe outcomes.

When looking at energy products specifically, the majority of cases affected men, and those older than 6 years old. And nearly 1 in 4 cases for exposure were intentional.

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Energy products often contain a mix of caffeine with other ingredients like taurine, guarana, ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, L-carnitine, milk thistle, and B vitamins, the researchers say. They’ve been linked to abnormal heart rhythms, seizure, and rapid breathing. (Energy drinks also gave one man hepatitis, as we reported.)

As for botanicals, a compound called yohimbe—often used for male sexual enhancement—was most risky. Nearly 30 percent of all exposures resulted in moderate or major issues, the study found. The botanical can cause problems like rapid heart beat, kidney failure, or heart attack. (Hit the reset button—and burn fat like crazy with The Body Clock Diet!)

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The results demonstrate the need for FDA regulation for energy products and yohimbe, the researchers write—as was successfully accomplished with ma huang more than 10 years ago. So if you’re considering popping supplements, make sure you loop in your doctor first. Certain supplements can be even more risky if you’re taking other meds, too, as we reported.

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