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Consumer Warning: Beware of Bee Pollen Weight Loss Scams

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently issued a warning that bee pollen products claiming to help you lose weight or reshape your body could be dangerous. These products are widely available in health stores, fitness centers, spas, and are even touted by some health professionals. Although bee pollen is generally safe, it is not a miracle ingredient. Further, some of these products have been found to contain other hidden and potentially dangerous ingredients that may be harmful for people with conditions such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and bipolar disorders.

Tainted Bee Pollen Products to Look Out For

One of these products in particular– Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen – should not be used at all because it contains at least one potentially harmful ingredient that’s not listed on its label. After analyzing 15 different Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen samples from various distributors, FDA labs found that all products tested had undeclared drug ingredients: sibutramine and/or phenolphthalein.

  • Sibutramine is a controlled substance that was removed from the market in October 2010 after clinical data indicated that it posed an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Sibutramine substantially increases the blood pressure and/or pulse in some people and can be risky for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias or stroke, says Jason Humbert, a senior regulatory manager with FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs.
  • Phenolphthalein, a laxative and suspected carcinogen, isn’t approved in the United States. FDA has classified phenolphthalein as “not generally recognized as safe and effective.”

Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen is just one of many so-called weight loss products containing bee pollen that the FDA has found to contain undeclared sibutramine and/or phenolphthalein. Others include:

  • Ultimate Formula
  • Fat Zero
  • Bella Vi Amp’d Up
  • Insane Amp’d Up
  • Slim Trim U
  • Infinity
  • Perfect Body Solution
  • Asset Extreme
  • Asset Extreme Plus
  • Asset Bold
  • Asset Bee Pollen

“When people buy these tainted bee pollen weight loss products, they are unknowingly taking one or more hidden drugs that have been banned from the market,” warns FDA’s national health fraud coordinator, Gary Coody, R.Ph.

Health Problems Caused By Tainted Bee Pollen Products

The FDA has received more than 50 reports of health problems associated with the use of these tainted bee pollen products. Reports have included at least one death, serious cardiac issues, chest pain, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, seizures, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, insomnia and diarrhea.

“They will tell you you’re going to get thirsty and need to drink more water. They won’t tell you that’s a side effect of sibutramine,” Coody says of the vendors of tainted supplements. “They’ll tell you that you may not feel well because you’re detoxifying your body. Well, you’re not feeling well because of the side effects of sibutramine.”

Don’t Be Fooled by Bee Pollen Marketing Tactics

Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen was placed on Import Alert to prevent it from being shipped into the United States, but it may be still entering the country illegally. According to the FDA, manufacturers and distributors have even concocted an elaborate marketing scheme to fool consumers into the belief that their product is “authentic”.   The ruse includes a 16-digit code on the package that consumers can use to go online and “validate” whether the product is “genuine” or counterfeit.

There are even legitimate-looking websites and social media sites on Facebook and YouTube that market the product. “It’s a very elaborate and sophisticated scheme,” says Humbert. “It preys on people’s weaknesses. They want the product to work.”

Rather than trust the manufacturers labeling, consumers are advised to check FDA’s website for a list of products previously tested and found to contain undeclared drug ingredients. “It is tempting to believe that a quick and effortless weight loss supplement is safe for use,” Humbert says. “But given the fact that these products contain a hidden dangerous ingredient, consumers should avoid taking them.”

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