Supplement Ingredients You Definitely Should Avoid

Supplement Ingredients You Definitely Should Avoid

Supplements are classed as foods and therefore regulations are not as strict than for pharmaceutical products.

This means, there is the potential for many supplements to include ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

LAST UPDATED: April 2019 by Ben.

Always read the Label

As supplements gain increasing popularity to increase strength, size, cut fat, improve immunity or even recharge your brain, it is important to ensure you know what you are consuming.

Supplements are not regulated like food and drugs; therefore, it can open the floodgates to unscrupulous manufacturers who will load products with ingredients without much thought to the potential outcome.

‘The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.’ [1]

Many people purely buy supplements based on the ‘look’ of the product.

They buy based on brand name and the claims, many of which are untested, proven or have any scientific evidence to suggest these claims can be fulfilled.

supplement ingredients label warnings


In fact, many products even hide the exact quantities of the listed ingredients behind what is known as a proprietary blend, a proprietary blend effectively allows a manufacturer to mask how much of each ingredient is present.

This means the big hitting and popular ingredients can be included with trace amounts pulling in sales all the while the whole product can mainly consist of a filler or bulking agent.

Not only will it not work, it is a huge waste of money.

However, in some cases a proprietary blend maybe a blessing.

Sure, you’ll be out of pocket and disappointed but if the product is mostly rice powder it is at least harmless.

We at Testosterone Junkie read through each and every ingredient of the products we test and review.

We wade through scientific studies and journals from reliable and scholarly studies – unlike the 2nd Gulf War we base our conclusions on real evidence and not Wikipedia or someone’s invalidated opinion based on nothing more than a hunch.

However, we have not reviewed every supplement on the market, yet.

So, for you, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of the potentially dangerous ingredients that are awash in many supplement products out there.

Now, pretty much anything can be potentially dangerous in the wrong hands, you can drown yourself by drinking too much water [2] for example and if you eat approximately 25lbs of chocolate it can be very toxic.


However, any decent and well researched product will not include anything that has the potential to be harmful.

It is these kind of brands or manufacturers who are in it for the long haul by offering a quality product and not just to make a quick buck on Amazon or eBay.

Many of these ingredients have differing names too.

So it can be hard to always keep a track of them, as a result we have included the more obscure names as well to try and cover all bases.

If you are ever in doubt just run a quick internet search.

A quick tip.

If you run an ingredient through a search engine and the first page of results are merely websites exclaiming the virtues of the ingredient, it is highly likely that it will not be an effective.

Most natural ingredients will have studies available either by universities, state run scientific resources or online libraries.

So let’s take a look at some of the ingredients that you should avoid:

These Ingredients could be harmful


Also known as: Aconiti tuber, aconitum, angustifolium, monkshood, radix aconti, wolfsbane.

Reduces inflammation, joint pain, gout.

But can cause, Nausea, vomiting, weakness, paralysis, breathing and heart problems and possibly even death. [3]


This can also be called Creosote bush, greasewood, larrea divaricata, larrea tridentata, larreastat.

It is used for weight loss; improves inflammation; treats colds, infections, skin rashes, cancer.

However, it can cause Kidney problems, liver damage, possibly death on the cards too.

‘Chaparral can cause serious side effects such as damage to your liver and kidneys. We don’t recommend it to treat or prevent any type of cancer.’ [4]


You may find it called Coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort, tussilago farfara.

It’s used to relieve cough, sore throat, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma.

Long term use could cause Liver damage, possible carcinogen. [5]


Further research will have it named Blackwort, bruisewort, slippery root, symphytum officinale.

Another remedy for a cough, heavy menstrual periods, stomach problems, chest pain; treats cancer.

Another potential cause of Liver damage, cancer, possibly death. [6]


Names include Teucrium chamaedrys, viscidum.

Can reduce Weight; alleviates fever, arthritis, gout, stomach problems.

But another that if harmful to the Liver, hepatitis, possibly death. [7]

Greater Celandine

You’d be correct if you know it as Celandine, chelidonium majus, chelidonii herba.

Used because it Alleviates stomachache, however, this is another that can cause liver damage.

‘The causality assessment of these reports provided evidence for the existence of Greater Celandine hepatotoxicity.’ [8]


Touted around as Ava pepper, kava kava, piper methysticum.

It is known to reduce anxiety and improve insomnia.

Liver damage is a concern, it seems to exacerbate Parkinson’s disease and depression, it impairs driving, possibly causes death. [9]


Other names include Asthma weed, lobelia inflata, vomit wort, wild tobacco.

Improves respiratory problems, aids smoking cessation.

Has a nasty range of side effects such as Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, confusion, seizures, hypothermia, coma, possibly death as well. [10]


This can also be found under Oxilofrine, p-hydroxyephedrine, oxyephedrine, 4-HMP.

Used for Weight loss, increases energy, and seems to improve athletic performance.

But unfortunately it Causes heart rate and rhythm abnormalities, cardiac arrest; particularly risky when taken with other stimulants. [11]

Pennyroyal Oil

Research has led to it being known as Hedeoma pulegioides, mentha pulegium.

Improves breathing problems, digestive disorders and has been used to induce abortions.

Unwanted sides include Liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, convulsions, possibly death as has been reported. [12]

Red Yeast Rice

Found under Monascus purpureus.

Known to Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, prevents heart disease and often used as a natural statin.

Kidney and muscle problems, liver problems, hair loss; can magnify effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, increasing the risk of side effects.

‘…possibility of myopathy, leading to kidney impairment…’ [13]

Usnic Acid

Nmes available such as Beard moss, tree moss, usnea.

Another weight loss and pain relief agent that appears to be popular.

However, liver injury seems to be high on the list of risks according to the evidence. [14]


Availble under the guises of Johimbi, pausinystalia yohimbe, yohimbine, corynanthe johimbi.

It has and is used to Treat low libido and erectile dysfunction, depression, obesity.

It Raises blood pressure; causes rapid heart rate, headaches, seizures, liver and kidney problems, heart problems, panic attacks, possible death.

Yohimbe is also reported to be a contraindication – whereby it can make previous health conditions worse or have a negative impact on any current medications.

This substance is banned in Australia, Canada, Germany, Austria and New Zealand.

All sage countries with concern for their people. [15]


As we discussed at the beginning of this article, supplements are not subject to the same intense regulation as other products.

As a result, some supplements may contain ingredients that can be harmful, even if they are natural.

Therefore, it is imperative that you buy a product that has a transparent nutrient profile.

Thus avoid and products with a proprietary blend and make sure you read the contents carefully to ensure that there isn’t anything that will cause any health issues.



[2] Fatal water intoxication. Farrell DJ, Bower L. J Clin Pathol. 2003 Oct;56(10):803-4. No abstract available. PMID: 14514793



[5] Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 1999 Jan 15;56(2):125-38; quiz 139-41. PMID: 10030529



[8] Herbal hepatotoxicity by Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus): causality assessment of 22 spontaneous reports. Teschke R, Glass X, Schulze J. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;61(3):282-91. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Aug 27. PMID: 21893153

[9] Toxicity of kava kava. Fu PP, Xia Q, Guo L, Yu H, Chan PC. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2008 Jan-Mar;26(1):89-112. doi: 10.1080/10590500801907407. Review. PMID: 18322868




[13] FDA warns consumers to avoid red yeast rice products promoted on Internet as treatments for high cholesterol August92007. Available at:

[14] Harmful effects of usnic acid on hepatic metabolism. Moreira CT, Oliveira AL, Comar JF, Peralta RM, Bracht A. Chem Biol Interact. 2013 Apr 25;203(2):502-11. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Feb 16. PMID: 23422721


Harmful Supplement Ingredients
Article Name
Harmful Supplement Ingredients
Natural supplement products can sometimes include harmful ingredients. Here is a popular list of nutrients that are best avoided.

Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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