Speeding to Liver Disease

The dietary supplement market for weight loss products and those for performance enhancement is a $33custom_metal_and_strong_style_color_b82220_wood_strong_drugstore_strong_style_color_b82220_rack_strong_and_display_drug_store_stro billion per year industry.

Some of the rising stars in this supplement category include products formulated with Acacia rigidula, the extract from a shrub that is native to the areas between South Texas and Central Mexico. The extract from the leaves of this plant reportedly increases energy, suppresses one’s appetite and burns fat.

Dsc00206Recent studies, however, indicate that almost half of the products with Acacia rigidula listed as an ingredient actually didn’t contain any of this botanical extract. The intriguing mystery is that these weight loss and performance enhancement products performed as intended!

Herbal remedies and supplements are not well regulated by the FDA and, because of that, some less reputable manufacturers may distribute products with formulas that are not consistent with the labeled ingredients. I’m definitely a believer in certain herbal remedies and use a couple of them to great benefit, but I caution you to research the manufacturer’s history and reputation before consuming their products.

So why did these supplement products perform as expected? What made themconfused-man work? Scientific testing indicated that in many cases Acacia rigidula was substituted with beta-methylphenethylamine (BMPEA for short).

A recent study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis discussed this fact. Although FDA scientists conducted the study, it’s interesting to note that, at the time of this writing, no consumer alerts have been issued. The researchers felt certain, however, that the presence of BMPEA was probably NOT an accidental contaminant since chemical analyses of Acacia rigidula plants indicate that there is very low natural abundance of any phenethylamine compounds within them.

BMPEA is a synthetic substance (formulated in a lab) and it is chemically Amphetamine-BMPEA-comparison-655x360similar to amphetamine, a powerful stimulant and a highly controlled prescription drug. Twenty-one products that claimed to be manufactured with Acacia rigidula were sampled. Ten showed to contain BMPEA instead.

The potential for injury with indiscriminate use of BMPEA is great. In one physician’s experience while studying 85 patients with liver disease, two-thirds were middle-aged women using supplements to lose weight or to increase energy. Nearly a dozen of those patients required a liver transplant and three of them died.

Statistics coming out of Spain indicate that indiscriminate use of amphetamine-like stimulant compounds is the second most common cause of acute hepatitis in those under the age of 25.

As a murder mystery writer, the erroneous labeling of the above-mentioned products provides a great opportunity for development of sinister story arcs. As I often state in my blogs, substances that have expected benefits can also have detrimental effects if used or formulated improperly. The villains in your stories could familiarize themselves with the injurious and lethal effects of these substances and look for opportunities to do harm.

Imagine the resulting symptoms of spiking a victim’s food or drink withbad-day-pic-200x300 adulterated weight loss products to the point of overdose. There would certainly be unexplained increases in body temperature and blood pressure, agitation, and mood or behavioral changes to the point of being overly aggressive and possibly obsessive. Stimulant product abuse has lethal potential and liver failure is often the cause of death.

As I’ve said before: Imagination + A Little Truth + Opportunity + A Substance with Both Beneficial and Adverse Effects = Murder!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A New Drug Abuse Threat, A New Street Drug, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Murder, Beta-methylphenethylamine in Supplements, Blog Trends, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, BMPEA in Supplements, Characteristics of Murder, Chemicals Used For Murder, Designing Murder Plots, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Herbal Diet Remedies, Herbal Performance Enhancement Supplements, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, Murder With Drugs, New Methods of Murder, Performance Enhancement Products and Acacia Rigidula, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Products Made With Acacia Rigidula, Products Made With Beta-methylphenethylamine, Products Made with BMPEA, Substituting Acacia Rigidula with Beta-methylphenethylamine, The Science of Murder, Unique Murder Weapons, Weight Loss Products and Acacia Rigidula, Yuletide Anthology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Speeding to Liver Disease

  1. Sinister indeed, my friend. Your post is also a sober warning for those in hot pursuit of instant weight loss.

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