Herbal Supplements: Just Tiny Capsules of Deception

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Photo: Corbis

The New York State attorney general’s office accused four national retailers of purveying fraudulent capsules of rice powder and lies, marketed as herbal supplements. The office tested products from Walgreens, Target, GNC, and Walmart, where four out of five pills contained none of the herbs listed on the supplement's label. Excellent news: The pills contained all sorts of fascinating vegetables and plant matter. If one were seeking ginkgo biloba, for example, one would find a fascinating, capsule-size meal of rice, garlic, asparagus, and spruce (Christmas tree). Target included beans, peas, and wild carrot in its small bed of rice. Walmart's ginkgo biloba has mustard, wheat, and radish. It all sounds delicious, and so healthy. With diets like that, who needs a supplement, really? You'd just be gilding the lily with snake oil.