Dietary supplements contaminated: from borage to water-based preparations
Certain plants like borage and waterdost have developed a special strategy to defend themselves against predators. They form so-called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which spoil the appetite of insects, but are also not healthy for humans. Food supplements made from such plants can be contaminated with these pollutants. Therefore, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) advises against the consumption of these products.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) are secondary plant substances that can damage the liver in the human body and have a mutagenic and carcinogenic effect on animals. Under certain circumstances, they enter the food chain via PA-forming wild herbs on the acreage of crops. Herbal tea, rooibos tea, black and green tea and honey are affected.
Anyone who uses the variety of foods and eats them variedly can significantly reduce their health risk. For example, children should not only drink herbal tea, but also other drinks such as water and juice spritzer.
Dietary supplements made from PA-forming plants are particularly contaminated. In individual cases, the content can be so high that toxic effects are possible even after short-term consumption. Even small amounts, especially with regular consumption, lead to an increased health risk. This has been confirmed by a recent analysis of 191 food supplements by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
More than half were contaminated with the pollutants, the levels being different. The maximum measured value was determined with a capsule with water vapor. Wasserdost is a daisy family and is a plant that produces PA. Coltsfoot, comfrey, borage, lungwort, stone seeds and butterbur are further examples of PA formers in food supplements.
Preparations containing St. John's wort were also criticized, which was probably due to contamination with wild herbs that formed PA. St. John's wort itself is not known as a PA-forming plant. The pollutants were not detectable in oil-based extracts from PA-forming plants. Heike Kreutz, respectively