There are many supplements that claim to help you lose weight. But are they safe?

Johannesburg - Sales of “Wondernut” (also known as Indian walnut) continue. It’s not only ineffective at weight loss and cancer treatment, but dangerous, causing severe gastrointestinal problems, kidney failure, pancreatitis and even death.

Despite the Medicines Control Council issuing a press release that Wondernut has no proof that is causes weight loss, and is potentially highly toxic, the “founders” continue to make false claims about safety and efficacy on their website.

In October, researchers from the California Department of Public Health released a report saying that, from 2007 to 2016, 776 products marketed as dietary supplements contained hidden active ingredients that were unsafe or unstudied.

The public health researchers found over-the-counter products - whether aimed at helping gym buffs bulk up, make consumers skinny without diet or exercise, give them a jolt of energy, or enhance performance in the bedroom - were often loaded with undeclared, unapproved and unregulated pharmaceutically active ingredients, which were a serious public health concern.

In March, Secret Fat Burner, a weight-loss product containing naturally derived ingredients and a “secret arsenal” of undeclared additives, including sibutramine and three other scheduled ingredients, was widely reported on for causing anxiety, thyroid dysfunction, blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. Sibutramine was banned in many countries, including South Africa, in 2010.

* Georgina Crouth is a consumer watchdog with serious bite. Write to her at [email protected], tweet her @georginacrouth and follow her on Facebook.

** Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535