The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, has found it necessary to issue an advisory on use of dietary supplements to prevent or treat Ebola infections. In response to the public concern regarding the Ebola virus and of the desire of the public to protect itself against this virus, they issued a statement, Industry Coalition Reminds Consumers, Retailers Dietary Supplements Cannot Claim to Cure, Prevent Ebola Virus, that states:
“We are unaware of any scientific data supporting the use of dietary supplements to prevent Ebola virus infection or treat Ebola virus disease. Furthermore, federal law does not allow dietary supplements to claim to treat any diseases, including Ebola virus disease.”
Yet, Marion Nestle notes in Food Politics that although supplement manufacturers admit that no known treatment exists for Ebola, it has not stopped them from advertising the benefits of their products for Ebola.
According to Nestle, the FDA has stepped in and issued warning letters to three manufacturers (Natural Solutions Foundation, Young Living and dōTERRA International LLC) for marketing their products on Twitter and elsewhere as being possible treatments or cures. The ability of supplement manufacturers to claim health benefits for their products, and mostly get away with it, is a result of congressional action in passing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), which essentially deregulated these products.
The industry coalition notes that anyone who believes they may have Ebola virus disease or may have come in contact with the Ebola virus should contact a healthcare professional immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on Ebola virus disease and the proper actions to take if you suspect you are ill.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article attributed the supplement advisory in the first paragraph to The Council for Responsible Medicine. This was due to an error in the source article, and we have corrected it to properly read “The Council for Responsible Nutrition.”