Two popular herbal supplements marketed as slimming aids may contain a potentially dangerous drug, a government medicine regulator has warned. Testing by the MHRA has found that the two supposedly natural products, Payouji tea and Pai You Guo Slim Capsules, contained an undeclared pharmaceutical ingredient called sibutramine.
In January 2010 the European Union withdrew sibutramine (also marketed as Reductil) from clinical use due to concerns over serious side effects. Any product containing it is considered to be harmful to public health. The MHRA says uncontrolled use of sibutramine can result in serious side effects, such as high blood pressure, seizures, heart attack or stroke. It may also interact with other prescription medication.
Anyone who is currently using Payouji tea or Pai You Guo Slim Capsules has been advised to stop taking the products and seek medical guidance immediately. They should also present details of the product they have used.
An MHRA spokesperson said, “People need to be aware that Payouji tea and Pai You Guo Slim Capsules are unlicensed herbal medicines and therefore have not met assured standards".
Herbal medicines registered and licensed by the MHRA can be identified by the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) markings on their labels. Any side effects to herbal products can be reported to the MHRA via their Yellow Card Scheme.
The US Food and Drug Administration has previously issued a number of warnings over supposedly natural or herbal products containing sibutramine, which are often marketed over the internet using misleading or false claims. The agency has also issued warnings over dozens of other supposed slimming aids containing potentially dangerous ingredients.