Warning as weight loss supplements found to contain deadly toxin after toddler poisoned by mum's diet pills | The Sun

HEALTH chiefs have warned that popular 'natural' weight loss supplements could in fact be laced with deadly toxins.

It comes after a toddler was poisoned after getting into a bottle of diet pills.

Purchased by the almost two-year-old's mum, the pills were labelled as Mexican tejocote root, a plant also known as hawthorn that's marketed for weight loss, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report said.

The dietary supplements are easily available to buy online as a natural detox and fat loss aid.

Though Ars Technica suggests there isn't much evidence to support claims that hawthorn can help loose weight, it's generally considered safe to consume.

But the tot, who lives in New Jersey, soon started suffering from nausea and vomiting after consuming the pills in September 2022 and was rushed to the emergency room.

Medics observed that the child had a low heart rate, falling blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and other symptoms lead them to believe the 'harmless' diet pills did not in fact contain hawthorn.

Unsure of what was going on, they contacted the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES), who helped identify that supplements were entirely made up of poisonous yellow oleander.

According to Plantura Magazine, oleander is 'highly poisonous' and all parts of the plant contain substances toxic to humans.

And while the plant toxins are used in small amounts for specific medicines, treatment with them should "only be carried out using approved ready-made medication from a pharmacy and under the supervision of a doctor", the outlet stressed.

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Oleander poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea and well as cold hands and feet due to deteriorating circulation.

In high doses, the toxic plant can result in cardiac arrhythmia and paralysis of the heart and breathing, which can lead to a coma and even death.

Though the tot in question recovered, the NJPIES further investigated the case, according to the CDC report.

Concerned that the problem could be more widespread, it ordered 10 products labelled as tejocote and marketed as weight loss supplements in December 2022.

Researchers at the Flora Research Laboratories specialising in the analysis of chemical constituents in dietary supplements compared the pills to authenticated tejocote root.

They found that nine of the 10 products labelled as tejocote were in fact poisonous yellow oleander, with no evidence of tejocote root.

"These readily available dietary supplements, upon testing, appeared to be mislabelled," the CDC wrote.

"Instead, they contained a toxic substance of concern to both clinicians and public health officials."

The product ingested by the toddler was sold as Eva Nutrition Mexican Tejocote Root.

Other yellow oleander-containing products included those sold as Alipotec tejocote root pieces, Elv Alipotec Mexican tejocote root pieces, Niwali tejocote Mexican root pieces, Science Alpha Mexican tejocote root pieces, and Tejocotex tejocote root pieces, the report found.

It comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a similar warning about the presence of toxic yellow oleander in certain botanical weight loss products labelled Nuez de la India.


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One person in Maryland was hospitalised after consuming the so called 'slimming seeds'.

The poisonous plant in increasingly being found in 'harmless' natural diet pills, which Bloomberg says people are seeking out as alternatives to weight loss medications like Wegovy.

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