Or sometimes we simply don’t have the time or energy to schedule in time for the gym or running track and we bank on beauty products that promise to magically shed extra pounds off.
However, it’s crucial to always read the fine print, browse real reviews, and check for HSA-approved labels. You don’t want to end up developing unwanted health concerns or side effects that were uncalled for instead of achieving your desired results!
Just last week, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warned against two slimming products that were found to contain “potent medicinal ingredients” and caused consumers to suffer adverse effects.
Banned substances found in slimming products ENRU plus+ and HKT Herba Kurus Tradisi
Both ENRU plus+ and HKT Herba Kurus Tradisi were marketed online as slimming products with claims of having natural ingredients.
However, HSA tests revealed high levels of sibutramine in both products. The latter also claimed to be “100% herbal” with “no banned substances”.
For the uninitiated, sibutramine was a prescription-only weight loss medicine that has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
The US FDA has previously asked a manufacturer to pull the weight-loss medication from the market after clinical trial data pointing to a 16% increase in the risk for serious cardiovascular events.
There have also been reports of serious psychiatric effects like psychosis, mania, hallucinations, panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide.
One woman experienced nausea, breathlessness, and heart palpitations, while another had dizziness and palpitations after consuming ENRU plus+.
As for the HKT Herba Kurus Tradisi, one woman had severe insomnia and heart palpitations after eating the slimming pills.
Man hospitalised after consuming Pill Hua Luo Cin Tan
A man in his fifties had purchased the Pill Hua Luo Cin Tan from a “traditional Chinese medicine shop” in Malaysia to alleviate wrist pains.
After taking the product for about a month, he ended up in the hospital with a relapse of hepatitis and a sudden increase in liver inflammation.
He had also developed symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, a serious steroid-induced condition indicated by a “moon face” appearance (facial puffiness and abnormal blood cortisol levels).
Tests done by HSA showed that the Pill Hua Luo Cin Tan contained painkiller diclofenac and potent steroids dexamethasone and prednisolone.
“Long-term unsupervised use of steroids can cause increased blood sugar levels leading to diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, suppression of the immune system leading to an increased risk of infections and other serious adverse effects,” stated HSA.
Additionally, unsupervised use of diclofenac can result in serious bleeding of the stomach.
Spinach Ginseng herb sugar ‘candy’ containing erectile dysfunction medicine
Packaged as candy, this product is marketed for sexual enhancement in men and claims to “strengthen heart tissues” and “repair endocrine system”.
Tadalafil was found in the Spinach Ginseng herb sugar with up to 25 times more than the usual prescribed daily dose. Although tadalafil is a prescription medicine for treating erectile dysfunction, it should only be consumed under medical supervision.
HSA shared that the use of tadalafil without proper medical supervision is dangerous and can increase the risk of adverse effects that include strokes, heart attacks, irregular heart rates, and priapism (painful and prolonged erections).
What are the next steps?
All four products were sold by sellers based in Singapore and Malaysia on local e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Carousell, and Qoo10.
HSA has worked with all platform administrators to issue warnings to the sellers and pull down affected listings. And its Malaysian counterpart has also been alerted.
Advisory to consumers and sellers
If you’ve been consuming Pill Hua Luo Cin Tan, please see a doctor as soon as possible but do not stop taking the product immediately on your own.
A sudden halt without medical supervision might result in the worsening of underlying medical conditions or other withdrawal conditions.
As for ENRU plus+, HKT Herba Kurus Tradisi, and Spinach Ginseng herb sugar, consumers are advised to stop taking them immediately. If you feel unwell or are concerned about your health, please speak to a doctor or health professional.
Sellers are expected to stop selling these products immediately or be faced with a S$10,000 fine, two years of jail time, or both.
Always check the sources and labels
Along with the HSA, we would like to remind everyone to be cautious of products that claim to be “natural” or “100% herbal” as they may contain potent, harmful ingredients instead.
It’s important to know where the products you’re buying are from, especially if they’re to be consumed or applied topically onto the skin.
Exercise caution when purchasing products from overseas, online, or from friends and relatives, especially if these products are from unknown or unverifiable sources.
There’s a risk that these products have been adulterated with harmful ingredients, especially if it’s being sold at an unbelievably low price or not produced by a certified manufacturer.
Feature image credit: Leanne InnerGlow, Carousell