When you think of supplements, you think of better health. Unfortunately, sometimes taking them can mean the opposite. A recent review from Drug Induced Liver Injury Network, a program funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that injuries from herbal remedies and dietary supplements are on the rise, especially when it comes to harm to the liver.
Out of the 700 cases of liver damage reported in the study, 130 of those cases were linked to dietary supplements. Liver injuries from supplements have gone up from 7 percent in 2004 to 20 percent in 2014. The numbers could be even higher, as there are a number of cases that go unreported.
The biggest issues seem to stem from bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements, which were responsible for about half of the cases of liver damage linked to supplements, according to the study. Other culprits included supplements marketed for depression, digestive upset and sexual performance.
Since many of these supplements complain multiple ingredients, it’s hard to pinpoint specifically what component is causing liver damage. To make matters worse, supplements are often illegally spiked with prescription drugs or other ingredients, which don’t appear on the label.
Two ingredients, however, stand out in particular when it comes to harmful effects on the liver: anabolic steroids and green tea extract. Unlike regular green tea, which consists of leaves steeped in hot water, green tea extract contains concentrated amounts of particular compounds found in green tea, which can contribute to liver damage.
When it comes to taking supplements, despite the fact that you don’t need a prescription, many are far from harmless. Before taking any supplement, it’s best to consult with your doctor, who can help you take the healthiest course of action to avoid complications like liver damage.
[h/t: Consumer Reports]