Getting Tough on False Claims About Supplements

Feb 26, 2019 | Dr. Melanie Chandler, HABIT FL Director | @drmelaniechandler | Comments (5)


On February 11, 2017 the FDA issued warning and advisory letters on 17 different companies claiming dietary supplements or unapproved new drugs helped treat or even cure Alzheimer's disease.  Read the full press announcement here.

It seems as long as there has been an ailment, there has been someone there willing to sell you something for it. When there is no strong medical treatment or no cure for a disease, the allure of buying (and potential profit to be gained from selling) only seems to worsen.

Snake Oil Salesman

We've posted before about evaluating research.  While we currently do not know the ultimate usefulness of any of the supplements and dietary aids whose company's have been reprimanded in these FDA warnings, we'd like to help our readers educate themselves further about the latest supplement or product for sale that may help their memory loss.

First, look for research on the supplement or product outside what the company advertises, emails, or prints themselves.  Sometimes big claims get based on little to no scientific backing.  There may be a claim that "research shows" or "scientists have proven", but you find no scientist outside the one they hired at the company (or no one at all) has actually proven anything.  Google the product and go to sites other than the seller's site.  Try searchable websites for research studies such as Google Scholar or PubMed to read research articles first hand.

Second, see if the supplement you are considering or already taking is a subject of an FDA warning. If you explore the FDA link above, you will find they have search engines to help you look and see if a supplement or device you are interested in has been given a warning or an advisory letter has been posted.

Finally, if you want to know the latest in new medicines, supplements, or treatments for memory loss, go to a trusted site such as the MCI page on  Also, search the Alzheimer's Association's website. They regularly post about advances in research and the latest findings on alternative treatments.

Caveat emptor holds true in many aspects of life, and definitely when it comes to the latest craze in supplements to treat memory loss.


@drmelaniechandler Thank you for this! I really like the link to the review of alternative treatments on the Alzheimer's Association website. It was helpful to read their analysis of specific supplements.


I'm not sure we can put much faith in the FDA after their sorry mishandling of the opioid change of labeling on how it may be prescribed.


@patrick L I totally agree with jontollefson's comment. Yes, I've had experience with "Wacks" but I don't think we should throw the baby out with the dirty water. I've personally had a physical problem, did research took a supplement and was helped. Absolutely research is essential – getting the facts is a must.


Sadly all the research on anti-amyloid and anti-tau drugs has been totally unsuccessful. So although I agree we need to be cautious about trusting company claims of efficacy for supplements, it is no wonder that those affected are giving supplements a try. I hold more hope in the research of non-traditional treatments. A recent study funded by NIH and conducted at UCLA researched over 400 plant extracts looking for those with neuro-protective properties. One extract showed promise and will move to animal trials. We need to advocate for more research $$.


Thanks @liv4now . I absolutely agree that more research is needed and more $$ to do it, so that we can have definitive answers on these potential treatments!

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