Supplement warning from Consumer Reports

August 4, 2010 8:24:04 AM PDT
Dietary supplements are a booming business, 150 million Americans take them, but now Consumer Reports has issued a warning about some ingredients that may hurt, not help.

"You don't want to take a risk if you're not getting a significant benefit," said Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports.

What the magazine calls the dirty dozen are marketed for everything from weight loss, to coughs, anxiety and depression and a host of other ailments, but Consumer Reports says each can have serious side effects.

1) Aconite

2) Bitter Orange

3) Chaparral

4) Colloidal Silver

5) Coltsfoot

6) Comfrey

7) Country Mallow

8) Germanium

9) Greater Celandine

10) Kava

11) Lobelia

12) Yohimbe

"Liver damage, liver failure, kidney damage, heart attacks," Metcalf said.

The FDA has previously issued consumer alerts on a number of these supplements including Colloidal Silver which is said to boost the immune system but it can turn skin permanently blue.

That happened to Paul Karason.

"I kind of hoped it would, it would fade off," Karason said.

It's easy to find any of these 12 supplements on the internet or in stores.

They don't need to prove safety or effectiveness before being sold, and Congress has made it tough for the FDA to pull supplements once they're on the market.

The industry points out these supplements are not widely used.

"In my mind, they are an insubstantial amount of the dietary supplement marketplace," said Steve Mister of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

There is widespread agreement on one point, before you take any supplement talk to your doctor.