Planta Med 2018; 84(09/10): 613-626
DOI: 10.1055/a-0605-3786
Reviews
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

A Review of the Toxicity of Compounds Found in Herbal Dietary Supplements

Amy Hudson*
1  Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
,
Elizabeth Lopez*
1  Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
,
Ahmad J. Almalki
1  Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
2  Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
,
Amy L. Roe
3  The Procter & Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
,
Angela I. Calderón
1  Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 15 November 2017
revised 31 March 2018

accepted 04 April 2018

Publication Date:
19 April 2018 (eFirst)

Abstract

Use of herbal dietary supplements by the public is common and has been happening for centuries. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has a limited scope of regulation over marketed herbal dietary supplements, which may contain toxic botanical compounds that pose a public health risk. While the Food and Drug Administration has made efforts to prohibit the sale of unsafe herbal dietary supplements, numerous reports have proliferated of adverse events due to these supplements. This literature review investigates bioactive plant compounds commonly used in herbal dietary supplements and their relative toxicities. Using primarily the National Library of Medicine journal database and SciFinder for current reports, 47 toxic compounds in 55 species from 46 plant families were found to demonstrate harmful effects due to hepatic, cardiovascular, central nervous system, and digestive system toxicity. This review further contributes a novel and comprehensive view of toxicity across the botanical dietary market, and investigates the toxicity of the top ten botanical dietary supplements purchased in the United States of America to gauge the exposure risk of toxicity to the public. The criteria of measuring toxicity in this review (plant compound, family, quantity, and toxicity effects) across the entire market in the United States, with special attention to those supplements whose exposure to the consumer is maximal, provides a unique contribution to the investigation of botanical supplements.

* These two authors contributed equally to this work.