SALT LAKE CITY -- An estimated 50 percent of the American population takes some sort of dietary supplement and the biggest misconception is that if it’s sold in stores it must be safe – this is a dangerous assumption, health experts say.
A fitness supplement is under fire after researchers discovered a compound similar to methamphetamine in its ingredients. Those who took Craze, made by Driven Sports, resulted in people failing drug tests.
Craze consumer Geoff Hincks was unaware of the questionable ingredient.
While taking it, Hincks said he saw great results from the pre-workout supplement, reaching his fitness goals faster.
“It increases endurance, better workouts, workout longer, harder and feel they definitely work,” Hincks said of Craze. "If a supplement is really bad I figure they wouldn’t sell it."
Pre-workout supplements are most often in powder form and mixed with water.
These supplements increase the body’s ability to perform at a higher level, said Joel Pino, a fitness blogger for Gnarly Athlete.
After several athletes using Craze started failing drug tests, researchers looked into it and found a compound similar to methamphetamine
Just because a workout product is on the shelves doesn’t mean it’s good for the body, health experts told Fox 13’s Carly Figueroa.
“I think that many individuals assume that because it’s available it must be safe – but there are a lot of products, not just supplements that can cause problems to a person’s health,” said Laura Shane-McWhorter professor at the University of Utah’s college of pharmacy.
Shane-McWhorter said an important thing to remember is supplements are regulated as foods not as drugs.
“So they don’t have the same requirements as when a drugs has to be evaluated when it’s marketed,” she said.
Shane-McWhorter said manufacturers are expected to list all ingredients on the label but many, including Driven Sports, don’t. Because of that there’s no way to know what’s really in the product unless it is tested.
“There were substitutions, there even fillers in there such as rice or wheat and the wheat for example for some people might cause a problem,” Shane-McWhorter said of Craze.
According to a study by U.S. researchers the meth-like compound found in Craze was patented in the late 1980s by a pharmaceutical company that reported claims of the compound causing psychoactive effects such as enhancing mental activities and pain tolerance.
The study goes on to say that the synthetic drug was never studied on humans.
Driven Sports still markets Craze on its website but stays it’s out of stock.
Driven Sports released a statement in response to the study:
Driven Sports, the manufacturer of Craze, has extensively studied and analyzed Craze with the assistance of a DEA registered laboratory and those studies have consistently indicated that Craze does not contain amphetamines or controlled substances. These studies have been made available for examination and review by the public.
Despite these results and the extensive nature of these studies, Driven Sports suspended the production and sale of Craze months ago while it investigated the reports in the media regarding the safety of Craze. The additional study has confirmed the results of the initial studies that Craze does not contain amphetamines or controlled substances.
“To me there is no integrity in that,” said Kimball McGary, CEO of Blue Earth Nutrition. “There’s no integrity in taking some substance and experimenting on people with it.”
McGary said people should be wary of supplements that have been taken off shelves and re-released.
McGary added there’s definition no of what natural means -- it’s important not to assume that a product marketing itself as natural is safe.
“One guy might say, ‘as long as it doesn’t have steroids in it I’m happy with it.’ Or ‘if it has unnatural colors and sweeteners it that’s fine with me,’ so there are two different definitions of natural,” McGary said.
Fox 13’s Carly Figueroa spent time with Blue Earth Nutrition. They say their workout supplements called Gnarly Full-on Nutrition are made of 100 percent natural ingredients.
It’s a pricey way to make a product, especially when competitors, like Driven Sports, are able to sell their products for less and still claim to be natural, the local nutrition company said.
“You will always reach those points in formulation where something will be cheaper to put in there,” McGary said. “It may not be good for people but it’s easy route to take.”
Blue Earth officials say bad supplements and dishonest companies have created a negative stigma surrounding the supplement industry.
“They’re putting something in there that first of all is not on the label and second of all it’s never been tested on people – we don’t know what it does,” said athlete and Gnarly blogger Pino. “Does it give you a heart attack? Does it cause strokes? We don’t know.”
To avoid a bad product, professionals suggest researching the manufacturer and its history before purchasing anything. If a product has been pulled from shelves and re-released that can be a red flag, McGary said.
“Consumer needs to be educated they need to understand what they are putting in their body because the FDA is not going to save you from some ill substance all the time,” McGary said.
Even safe and honest supplements can cause unwanted side effects.
Professionals say to always consult a physician before taking a supplement.
Read the full statement form Driven Sports below:
Driven Sports, the manufacturer of Craze®, has extensively studied and analyzed Craze with the assistance of a DEA registered laboratory and those studies have consistently indicated that Craze does not contain amphetamines or controlled substances. These studies have been made available for examination and review by the public. Despite these results and the extensive nature of these studies, Driven Sports suspended the production and sale of Craze several months ago while it investigated the reports in the media regarding the safety of Craze. The additional study has confirmed the results of the initial studies that Craze does not contain amphetamines or controlled substances.
As part of our additional studies, however, we have been working very hard to figure out why others have been concluding that Craze contains amphetamine like substances. Extensive analytical work by a DEA registered lab in Michigan and a Swedish laboratory retained by Driven Sports indicate the presence of n-beta DEPEA in CRAZE. This is a related but very different substance from the one identified by NSF. It is also very difficult to distinguish these two substances unless you know precisely what you are looking for and are using the proper test methodology.
NSF and the other authors of the Short Communication which appeared in Drug Testing and Analysis do not suggest that they even considered the possible presence of n-beta. Because of its similar chemical composition, failure to take into account the presence of n-beta could cause a mistaken conclusion that any given sample contains n-alpha.
Moreover, in the absence of a careful analysis of dendrobium (the ingredient in Craze at issue) to rule out the presence of naturally occurring DEPEA analogues, it is impossible for the authors to comment with any authority as to the source of this substance. Just because a substance is patented does not mean it is not found in nature, and just because it is not mentioned in the literature does not mean that anyone has ever looked for it before.
We have also submitted 4 independent double-blind placebo-controlled safety and efficacy studies on Craze for publication in peer-reviewed journals. These studies, conducted in 177 people, show that Craze did not induce any harmful effects on clinical laboratory parameters and that there were no adverse events reported. While we continue to have no reason to believe that the Craze formula is anything but safe and effective when used responsibly, the confidence of our retailers to sell the product and our consumers to buy the product is our primary concern so we will continue the suspension of the production and sale of Craze for the foreseeable future until these issues are resolved.