The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning earlier this month that weight loss products titled Nuez da la India, often marketed as “diet seeds” or “India Nuts for Weight Loss” are highly toxic yellow oleander, which is a poisonous plant often found in Mexico and Central America.
It cautions that ingesting yellow oleander could cause serious complications including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal change, cardiac changes or other problems.
Regulators said that as of now, at least one person in the state of Maryland has been hospitalized after taking Nut Diet Max brand Nuz de la India seeds.
As of early September, the FDA is urging consumers to stop taking these products. Consumers who have taken any amount of these products should consult with a physician for an evaluation.
This comes on the heels of other warnings from health experts regarding berberine, a plant-derived supplement that went viral on social media this summer, being called a cheaper, natural alternative to Ozempic for those wanting to lose weight.
Posts calling it “nature’s Ozempic” have racked up millions of views on TikTok as users claim it can help with weight loss. But very little is actually known about berberine’s health impacts.
Berberine is a bright yellow compound extracted from the stem, roots or bark of various plant species. It is available as a pill or a powder from a range of manufacturers but has not been approved by the FDA.
Small studies found berberine can decrease blood glucose and cholesterol, and improve insulin resistance, the Wall Street Journal reported. Berberine’s possible weight-loss effects may be triggered similarly to the diabetes drug metformin, by improving how cells use insulin, according to Jim Backes, a clinical pharmacist at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
However, researchers warn that the connection to weight loss is premature and that lifestyle changes like exercise and healthier eating could be responsible for users who reported losing weight.
Researchers are still exploring berberine’s effects on the nervous system, cancer biology, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.