Recently a weight loss shake containing Garcinia and green tea was in the news – not for good reasons either!

The weight loss shake was taken by an Australian man who developed liver failure and required a liver transplant.  The weight loss supplement was blamed and the question was – is it the Garcinia, the green tea or whatever else that is in the shake?

Important facts about this man’s diet and lifestyle or antecedent predisposing factors for liver disease were not revealed or discussed, so it is impossible to really know what caused his liver failure. Typically, the ever-hungry sensationalist media used this opportunity to disparage dietary and weight loss supplements saying they are unregulated and potentially dangerous!

Well, this is ridiculous based on the fact that there is a wealth of scientific literature on herbal medicine, vitamins and minerals; the manufacture of dietary supplements is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA.
It is important to only take supplements that are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified, and to seek health advice from your practitioner before taking supplements.

The phenomena of selective publishing and selective reporting by drug companies and the media has endured for many years.  For instance, the public are often unaware of the liver toxic side-effects of many prescribed drugs such as anti-fungal drugs, antibiotics, statins, anti-inflammatory drugs and immune-suppressant drugs!  Yes, we are a very trusting public and we should and need to ask more questions about the side-effects of drugs and supplements.  It is not a good idea to take anything long-term without checking for potential side-effects.

One of the most liver toxic over-the-counter drug is Paracetamol (also known as Acetaminophen), which is used extensively by people with arthritis and other types of pain.  This drug is also promoted to parents as a treatment for children with pain or fever, often given frequently and over several days at a time, and most parents are completely unaware that Paracetamol is the leading cause of acute liver failure, and the need for liver transplants in children.  This fact should make news headlines but it does not – why not?  Another case of selective reporting due to vested interests.

In a child with a fever, I recommend vigilant observation, vitamin C, liquid selenium, iodine and zinc and sponging down in a tepid bath along with plenty of fluids.  Unfortunately, we have been brainwashed into reaching first for the Paracetamol and think that this is 100% safe.  Let me reiterate, it is important to see your health care practitioner.

Dr Oz made Garcinia Cambogia famous, as a possible weight loss tool, and what was otherwise an obscure, lowly fruit grown in only a few regions of the world has now become the centre of many weight loss programs.  For centuries, Garcinia Cambogia resided in dry, dusty bags only to be sold as a curry supplement and for the occasional therapeutic remedy.  Today, however, it is one of the world’s most popular weight loss supplements and has not been shown to be dangerous!   In Ayurvedic medicine, the Garcinia fruit treats ailments from rheumatism, arthritis, digestive disorders to gum disease. It also treats worms, parasites, dysentery, purgatives, and, allegedly, tumours.

Over 40 years practising in clinical medicine, I have found that nutritional and herbal supplements are generally very safe, especially when made by well known reputable companies, and Australia has the highest manufacturing standards in the world.  I have seen prescribed drugs cause liver problems from mild to life threatening and incurable, but guess what?  These anecdotes and cases do not make the headlines, and one has to wonder at just who is behind the non-bipartisan scare-mongering media!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email