Almost two out of 10 herbal weight loss nutraceuticals sold in UAE contain synthetic drugs

Analysing 137 weight loss supplements, 17.5% of these contained significant concentrations of either sibutramine, phenolphthalein, or fluoxetine, which are active pharmaceutical ingredients on the FDA list of prohibited compounds.

These ingredients have many side effects, could be toxic and potentially fatal when taken without proper medical supervision, especially for people suffering from anxiety, hypertension, or heart conditions.

Many consumers choose herbal products that claim to promote weight loss, unaware that they may be adulterated with pharmaceuticals to create instant pharmacological reactions or boost the biological action of the supplement.

This study published in Molecules​ used analytical methods of chromatography and spectrometry to investigate the levels of adulterated substances in these weight loss supplements.

Data collection

Of the 137 weight loss supplements available in UAE, most were in the form of capsules (63.5%), followed by tablets (22.6%), and tea bags (13.9%).

Most of the supplements were made in US (48.9%), followed by EU (16.1%), China (5.1%), Malaysia (4.4%), India and UAE with 2.9% each, and Canada (2.2%). About 17.5% did not have a declared country of origin.

A reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography with UV absorption detection coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (RP-HPLC-MS/MS) analyses were used to determine the presence of the pharmaceutical chemicals.

The capsules and tablets were made into fine powder before analysing.

Top 3 adulterants

Among the weight loss supplements, 15.3% contained undeclared sibutramine, 13.9% contained undeclared phenolphthalein, and 5.1% contained undeclared fluoxetine. In total, 17.5% of all supplements contained significant concentrations of either sibutramine, phenolphthalein, or fluoxetine.

Open chat
thank you for contacting us, for more information,
please chat