27-year-old Australian, Matthew Whitby, did what so many of us do. He went online and purchased a product that he thought would help him get results. Unfortunately, the results he got were much more than he had bargained for.
Whitby was told he was 2 weeks from death and required a liver transplant after taking a protein powder containing green tea extract and a supplement with garcinia cambogia (a tropical fruit used in weight loss supplements).
According to doctors, in some individuals, green tea extract can cause liver failure -- even in moderate doses! Green tea extract has been linked to dozens of cases of liver failure worldwide. The same is true for garcinia cambogia.
Whitby was so close to dying that he had to accept a donated liver infected with Hepatitis B. He has chosen to speak out in the hopes of warning others.
"I didn't think something you could buy online or just over the counter did the damage that it did to me,'' he said. "They didn't say anything about 'could cause liver failure'."
[bctt tweet="Man Given 2 Weeks To Live After Taking Popular Weight Loss Product Purchased Online"]
In Australia, products containing green tea extract carry no warnings. Because it is often considered a food, it falls into a murky regulatory space. Products containing garcinia cambogia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA is investigating this case as part of a much larger review and the results "will be made public if there is sufficient evidence of a safety issue to warrant further action."
Whitby's doctors believe it was the green tea extract that caused his liver failure but because there are so many ingredients in protein powder, it was hard for them to say for sure.
Liver specialist, Professor Gary Jeffrey, was not surprised by this case. He said doctors are seeing an increase in liver damage that they believe is caused by herbal remedies and extracts. Placing warnings on these products is up to regulators but Jeffrey believes the products should contain an insert that lists the benefits of the product as well as the potential harms. "People who have normal liver function can develop liver problems with herbal extract toxicity," he said. "There have been a number of countries around the world that have removed slimming agents from the market because of the increased rate of liver damage."
Experts say that drinking green tea in moderate amounts is still safe and the problems are more likely to arise with use of the concentrated, extract form.
Is this news enough to make you want to rid your house of green tea extract? Do you believe that supplementing with these sorts of products is even necessary or should you stick to getting results the old fashioned way, by cleaning up your diet
and getting regular exercise?