Adverse effects of plant food supplements self-reported by consumers in the PlantLIBRA survey involving six european countries

Patrizia Restani, Chiara Di Lorenzo, Alicia Garcia-Alvarez, Mihaela Badea, Alessandro Ceschi, Bernadette Egan, Lorena Dima, Saskia Lüde, Franco M. Maggi, Angela Marculescu, Raimon Milà-Villarroel, Monique M. Raats, Lourdes Ribas-Barba, Liisa Uusitalo, Lluís Serra-Majem

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Background The use of food supplements containing botanicals is increasing in European markets. Although intended to maintain the health status, several cases of adverse effects to Plant Food Supplements (PFS) have been described. Objectives To describe the self-reported adverse effects collected during the European PlantLIBRA PFS Consumer Survey 2011-2012, with a critical evaluation of the plausibility of the symptomatology reported using data from the literature and from the PlantLIBRA Poisons Centers' survey. Subjects/Setting From the total sample of 2359 consumers involved in the consumers' survey, 82 subjects reported adverse effects due to a total of 87 PFS. Results Cases were self-reported, therefore causality was not classified on the basis of clinical evidence, but by using the frequency/strength of adverse effects described in scientific papers: 52 out of 87 cases were defined as possible (59.8%) and 4 as probable (4.6%). Considering the most frequently cited botanicals, eight cases were due to Valeriana officinalis (garden valerian); seven to Camellia sinensis (tea); six to Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) and Paullinia cupana (guarana). Most adverse events related to the gastrointestinal tract, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Conclusions Comparing the data from this study with those published in scientific papers and obtained by the PlantLIBRA Poisons Centers' survey, some important conclusions can be drawn: severe adverse effects to PFS are quite rare, although mild or moderate adverse symptoms can be present. Data reported in this paper can help health professionals (and in particular family doctors) to become aware of possible new problems associated with the increasing use of food supplements containing botanicals.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’articlee0150089
RevistaPLoS ONE
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - de febr. 2016
Publicat externament


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