September 25, 2018

Dietary Supplements Can’t Treat Concussion

The FDA is warning consumers that, despite claims to the contrary, dietary supplements can’t treat concussion. Some companies are offering “untested, unproven and possible dangerous products that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Dietary SupplementsFDA is monitoring the marketplace and taking enforcement action where they feel it is appropriate. They will issue warning letter to companies as necessary as the first step. Warning consumers is another step. Finally, the FDA can go to the courts and get an injunction against a corporation making supplements with unproven or misleading claims, forcing them to stop production and recall the product.

One common claim made by some corporations is that using a particular dietary supplement can promote faster healing times after concussion. Gary Coody, FDA’s National Health Fraud Coordinator, said in a statement that “even if a particular supplement contains no harmful ingredients, that claim alone can be dangerous. We’re very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready.”

Scientific evidence has shown that if concussion victims resume strenuous activities too soon after a TBI, they risk a greater chance of a subsequent concussion. Repeated concussions have a cumulative effect on the brain, with consequences including brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

Products promoting relief from TBIs say that ingredients such as turmeric and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil are helpful. Turmeric is simply an Indian spice that may have some health benefits, but not treatment of concussion. Omega-3 fatty acids have an upper limit of 3 grams a day from all sources because of possible increased risk of bleeding, increases in cholesterol, and problems with controlling blood sugar.

FDA send letters in 2012 warning two companies selling products claiming to protect against and heal TBIs. Those products were misbranded; the companies changed their labeling and websites. In December 2013, a warning letter was issued to Star Scientific, for marketing the product Anatabloc with claims to treat TBIs.

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