Hidden Drugs in 'Brain-Boosting' Supplements

Researchers find five unapproved drugs in cognitive enhancement supplements

(RxWiki News) A quick look at any store's supplement section will turn up plenty of supplements claiming to boost your brain power. But new research found that these supplements may contain unapproved drugs that could pose health risks.

A new study found that over-the-counter (OTC) cognitive enhancement supplements may contain drugs that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not listed on the label.

The study authors pointed out that, "The health effects of consuming untested combinations of unapproved drugs at unpredictable dosages without clinician oversight in supplements is unknown."

These researchers tested 10 so-called "brain-boosting" supplements to see if they contained unapproved drugs. They found the following unapproved drugs in some of these OTC supplements:

  • Omberacteam
  • Aniracetam
  • Phenibut
  • Vinpocetine
  • Picamilon

They also found that some of the drugs listed on the product labels were not actually in the products. And roughly 75 percent of the products inaccurately listed the amounts of declared drugs they contained.

By consuming the recommended amounts of some of these supplements, users could be exposed to "pharmaceutical-level dosages" of these unapproved drugs, the study authors noted. And individual products could expose users to four times the recommended amounts of some of these substances.

OTC supplements are not reviewed by the FDA before being released to consumers. Before taking any new supplement or OTC medication, speak with your health care provider.

This study was published in the journal Neurology Clinical Practice.

UptoDate, Consumers Union and PEW Charitable Trusts supported this research. The study authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 22, 2020