FDA/FTC urged to halt cholesterol-lowering claims for garlic supplements

WASHINGTON - Garlic supplements do not lower cholesterol levels for periods long enough to do much good, so dietary supplement companies should stop telling consumers they do, says the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In petitions filed today, CSPI urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to halt cholesterol-reduction claims for garlic supplements manufactured by Kwai, One A Day, Nature Made, Centrum Herbals, and several other companies. CSPI called the manufacturers’ claims “false and misleading.”

      “In its October report, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that garlic supplements did not lower cholesterol for periods long enough to improve health, yet manufacturers of popular garlic supplements continue to claim they do,” stated David Schardt, CSPI associate nutritionist.

      AHRQ evaluated 37 randomized trials that tested the effect of garlic on blood cholesterol levels. Small reductions occurred when participants took garlic for one to three months, but not when they took it for six months or longer.

      “Since prolonged elevation of blood cholesterol levels promotes cardiovascular disease, a product that lowers levels for only a few months is virtually useless,” said Schardt, who was a member of the AHRQ advisory panel.

      “Many manufacturers make misleading labeling claims about the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic supplements,” said Ilene Ringel Heller, a CSPI senior staff attorney. “We’re urging the FDA to step in and immediately put a halt to the claims.”

      CSPI petitioned the FDA, which regulates supplement labeling, to stop the following products from making false and misleading labeling claims:

  • Kwai Dietary Supplement (“Clinically Proven To Support Cardiovascular Health & Lower Cholesterol”);
  • Kwai Heart Fit Garlic (“Proven To Lower Cholesterol and Maintain A Healthy Heart and Circulatory System”);
  • One A Day Cholesterol Health Dietary Supplement (“Helps Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels”); and
  • Nature Made Herbs Garlic Supplement (“May Help Reduce Blood Cholesterol”)

      CSPI petitioned the FTC, which regulates supplement advertising, to stop false and misleading advertisements made by the following companies:

  • Kwai (30-second TV ads claim: “The Garlic Supplement Proven To Lower Cholesterol”);
  • Centrum Herbals (claim that its garlic tablets “maintain healthy cholesterol”);
  • Nature Made (claims on its website that “Scientific studies have shown that Garlic may help reduce blood cholesterol”); and
  • Life Extension’s Pure-Gar Garlic Capsules (magazine ad claims that “If you’re trying to lower cholesterol or blood pressure, take seven to eight Pure-Gar caps a day”).

      “The FTC should coordinate more effectively with the FDA and make sure that deceptive claims are stopped in advertising as well as labeling,” stated Leila Leoncavallo, a CSPI senior staff attorney.