Narrator: This is Science Today. Each year, the American public spends billions of dollars on what is termed 'unproven remedies' - and this includes dietary supplements. Christine Haller, a toxicologist at the University of California, San Francisco, says the rise of dietary supplement use is of particular concern to those in poison control.
Haller: Because dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and they're not considered to be a food or a drug. And therefore, people sort of have access to them indiscriminately and we are seeing some adverse effects being reported.
Narrator: In particular, Haller says the products of concern contain ephedra, which are marketed to help lose weight, boost energy or enhance athletic performance.
Haller: It contains ma huang, which is an herbal form of ephedrine and caffeine, in combination. And these two products in combination seem to be potentially more dangerous in causing adverse effects. So we would prefer people check with their physician before starting any of these dietary supplements.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.