(NewsNation) — A popular herbal remedy is reportedly linked to the death of a U.S. representative’s wife.
A medical examiner says Representative Tom McClintock’s wife, Lori McClintock, died in 2021 of dehydration caused by “adverse effects of a white mulberry leaf ingestion.”
White mulberry leaves are generally considered safe and are sometimes used to treat a variety of ailments including diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. But some say McClintock’s death underscores the risk of the booming market of dietary supplements and herbal remedies, a $54 billion industry in the U.S.
Some have raised questions over whether the U.S. government is doing enough to regulate supplements.
Dr. Anthony Harris, the CEO and medical director at H-Fit Health, appeared on “NewsNation Prime” on Thursday to discuss supplements.
Harris says the white mulberry leaf has been around for roughly a decade and can be taken in several forms, such as pills, capsules or powders, or sometimes ingested in a tea.
“The leaves are made into a tea and certainly in this case, that may be what McClintock consumed,” Harris said. “What we know about this supplement is that it is a category that’s not regulated like a traditional drug.”
According to Harris, some supplements are categorized in the same way as food rather than drugs.
“We know that for the most part, it’s probably safe for the majority of people. That’s why the FDA regulates these categories of supplements the way they do as a food rather than a drug. But we also know that this supplement is known to cause side effects of bloating, gas, diarrhea, loose stools … And certainly it may be possible that, again, someone who has loose stools, maybe losing too much water and too much fluid, and if you are not careful, you can become dehydrated,” Harris said.
“A lot of people think that … this is a supplement, it’s survival, food is dietary. So there’s little to no harm. That’s just not the case. We know that too much consumption of colloquially anything, it can be harmful for you. And in this particular case, mixing with particular medications for diabetes, for example, can cause your body to respond differently to those prescriptive medications,” Harris said.
Harris says the right supplements may help certain people, but insists it’s best to speak with a doctor about them before use.