Methamphetamine Found in Supplements at GNC

A Harvard doc and his team made the startling discovery.

Supplements image via Shutterstock

Supplements image via Shutterstock

I’ve written this sentence at least 10 times over the past few years: Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. The FDA only regulates supplements after they are on the market. (And right now, with the shutdown, no one is regulating anything, by the way.)

And yet, every time I write another story about it, people still seemed shocked. When I say unregulated, I mean unregulated. Supplements and vitamins are not tested, not inspected, and not studied. The labels are not inspected, studied, or checked. This past summer, seemingly harmless vitamin B supplements from a company called “Healthy Life” were found to have anabolic steroids in them. And just last week, a supplement called OxyElite Pro was linked to acute hepatitis.

Basically, you could crush up some baking soda, put it in a capsule, call it Super Fat Burn, and then sell it on the Internet, and no one would know a thing. You could write on the label that it’s 100 percent organic greenweed imported from Malaysia and no one would give it a second glance. Hire a PR team, get it in the hands of every major celebrity, put it in fitness magazines that promise you can lose 10 pounds this month on the cover, pay for some promoted Facebook posts, and boom, you’ve sold millions… of baking soda capsules.

Harvard doctor Pieter Cohen and his team must be as skeptical as I am because they conducted a study of a mainstream pre-workout supplement called Craze, and they found unlabeled methamphetamine analog in the samples. The team purchased Craze at GNC and Natural Health Shoppe. The study was published Monday in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. According to Runner’s World, Craze was named “New Supplement of the Year” by Bodybuilding.com in 2012. And it’s currently in the running for Pre-Workout Supplement of the Year in 2013.

So let’s look at who is responsible for making Craze. His name is Matt Cahill, and while he was busy making the new product and getting it in stores, he was waiting to be sent to prison for selling what USA Today called, “dangerous weight-loss pills.”

According to an investigative piece published last month in USA Today:

Cahill was facing federal charges for mixing a highly toxic pesticide with baking powder, stuffing it in capsules and selling it over the Internet for weight loss.

The new steroid, to Cahill’s knowledge, had never before been tested on humans until he and a few friends tried it themselves for a few weeks before putting it on sale in 2004.

Over the course of a nearly 12-year career, Cahill has continued to launch new and risky products, flourishing in the $30 billion dietary supplement industry as federal regulators struggled to keep up with his changing series of companies, a USA TODAY investigation has found. Some who took his steroid suffered liver damage while others who consumed the weight-loss pills ingested a chemical that had been banned for human use in the 1930s after users went blind.

So again, just to be clear, if you think something is safe because it’s sold in a chain like GNC, or that an Ivy-league trained scientist is making your supplement in a clean lab, you’re wrong. We don’t know where many of these supplements are coming from. And while there are most likely some legit vitamins and supplements out there, the bad apples ruin it for everyone. People are mixing toxic chemicals and untested steroids in their dirty basement and passing it off as something that is good for you. Just because it is sold in a store with the word “healthy” in it doesn’t make it healthy.

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  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    Our government not allowed to do it’s work. Amazing that this guy can still sell something that poisons people and gets away with it.

  • Eva Scoles

    Thank you for posting this information. Question – how can I determine which vitamins and supplements are real and safe? I think the FDA should start regulating vitamins and supplements. Our government needs to do a better job at ensuring our food and medicines are safe. This is ridiculous nothing is safe. Pesticides, steroids, chemicals,antibiotics all in our food we consume.I don’t want any of that in my food. What can we eat? :(

    • rosemaryjacobs

      The FDA can’t regulate supplements because of DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994, which was passed by Congress and signed by Clinton after the most intense lobbying effort since the Vietnam War. Yet even today few Americans realize this law exists which is exactly the way the supplement industry wants it. I was disfigured by a silver drug over 50 years ago. Today silver cannot be sold legally as a drug for internal use, but it can and is sold as a “dietary supplement”. As I predicted when I learned that in 1995, silver supplements have caused many new cases of argyria, skin discolored by silver. http://rosemaryjacobs.com

    • rosemaryjacobs

      Life is not and never will be risk free. With everything you have to weigh the risks against the benefits. The US food supply is very safe. Approved drugs are well studied before they are marketed in order to determine if they offer benefits, what the benefits are, what dose offers the benefits and what dose is toxic. Then they are standardized for purity and potency. With that information you can make informed decisions about using them. Although you can never be certain that one of them won’t injure or kill you, the knowledge you have about them greatly increases the odds in your favor. Since “dietary supplements” are not studied before they are marketed and since no one checks to see if what is on the label is in the package, there is no way to make informed decisions about their use. One of the very successful marketing techniques used by supplement peddlers and alt med practitioners is to scream about how unsafe food and drugs are even when that isn’t true and even when there is solid evidence that the alternatives they sell are useless and far more dangerous than those supported by solid scientific evidence of safety and efficacy.

      • Sammy Nammy

        The Unites States food supply is not safe. The FDA is bought and owned it was deregulated down to nothing. Companies pay fines and that’s it!. What about all the food stuffs that are not even allowed too be sold to the public which can be sold here in the USA. Where do you think these bogus companies come from a lot of them are companies that are unable to operate in countries with much higher food standards than ours. I am sorry you had a bad experience but the truth is our regulatory industries are a joke! Every regulatory type of government agency received cuts of almost half during the Reagan Era so as to have a smaller govt. In the mean time we got an abundance of crazy people out on the streets, corporate crime through tax loopholes, and less regulations everywhere, food and food stuffs included

  • Boston

    Go to http://www.Amway.com/Solnce and buy any hi quality vitamins save!!!

  • Arxces

    We here in Malaysia have never even heard of this organic greenweed :p

  • http://www.pureedgenutrition.com/14-day-cleanses.html 14 Day Cleanse

    Losing weight can dramatically improve your emotional and physical health, but it’s often a slow process.

  • http://www.pureedgenutrition.com/ Weight Loss Nutrition

    Cahill has ongoing to release new and dangerous products, growing in billion dollars supplement industry.

  • crystal

    What is the Meth based product being sold at GNC?