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Dietary Supplements May Pose Risks for People with Concussions
- Updated: September 5, 2014
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out a warning that dietary supplements claiming to prevent, treat, or cure concussions should be avoided. The problem is that supplement manufacturing companies are making these claims yet the supplements have not been tested and thereby, proven to be safe. In fact, the FDA states dietary supplements could pose serious risks.
Now with football season underway, the number of people experiencing concussions will rise. Rather than have a young player seen by a doctor after being tackled hard or falling, some parents turn to natural remedies in the form of dietary supplements, products that are readily available online and in stores.
In a news release, the FDA said many of the companies that make dietary supplements are exploiting well-meaning parents. Unfortunately, these products are heavily marketed through social media, which escalates concerns. One bogus claim in particular is that dietary supplements promote quicker healing to the brain after a concussion.
Even if dietary supplements are not made with harmful ingredients, this type of claim is reckless, as stated by Gary Coody, National Health Fraud Coordinator with the FDA. He continues by stating companies that make false assurances has the government agency very concerned since they will convince athletes of all ages, as well as parents and coaches, that if someone has a concussion, they can take dietary supplements and go back to playing without risk.
Another claim that has the FDA worried is that dietary supplements have the ability to prevent or even lessen the severity of a concussion, or some other form of traumatic brain injury. Head injuries of any type and of any level of severity, need to be properly diagnosed, treated, and monitored. This can only be done by a qualified medical profession. Coody also says that there is growing evidence if someone with a concussion resumes playing sports prematurely, risk of another concussion increases significantly.
Unfortunately, repeated concussions can lead to very serious problems such as swelling of the brain, permanent brain damage, long-term disability, and even death. Charlotte Christin, acting director of the FDA’s division of dietary supplement programs added to the news release that to date, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of dietary supplements of any kind for the prevision or concussions. In addition, no evidence exists to support supplements will reduce symptoms after having a concussion.
Many companies that manufacture dietary supplements use trickery to get people to purchase their products. For instance, they will hyper-focus advertising on ingredients proven to be beneficial like omega 3 fatty acids that come from fish oils and the spice turmeric. This has become such a serious problem that in 2012, the FDA sent warning letters to two companies in particular, telling them to change both labeling and website information. Then last year, a third company received the same warning.
Coody adds that while work continues, there is no guarantee that other claims will not be made by companies manufacturing dietary supplements. However, he says the FDA does promise the public that at this time, there is no dietary supplement on the market that has been proven to prevent or treat concussions.