FDA Warns Dietary Supplements Cannot Treat Concussions

Children are fully back in the swing of things at school, including all kinds of sports from football to field hockey, lacrosse and soccer. Parents are naturally concerned about the health of their children, and if their children participate in sports, sports safety is at the top of that list. One of the most common and more serious types of sports-related injury is concussion or other traumatic brain injuries that occur when there is a blow to the head, or a violent movement of the head.

Recent attention has focused on the subject of sports-related concussion and traumatic brain injuries partly due to high-profile concussion lawsuits filed by former NCAA athletes against the NCAA, and former professional football players against the NFL over the long-term effects of concussions suffered during their playing days. Many of these former players now suffer Lou Gehrig’s disease, dementia and other neurological diseases and conditions suffered during their playing days.

The FDA is warning consumers that many of the more than 85,000 dietary supplement makers are jumping on the sports safety bandwagon and fraudulently claiming that taking their supplements can help prevent, treat, and cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. Supplements are available in retail and specialty stores, and sold over the Internet and through social media, and many make inflated claims that could be extremely dangerous to the consumer.

Contrary to their claims, there is no FDA-approved dietary supplement on the market that is scientifically proven as safe and effective in preventing, treating or curing concussions or traumatic brain injuries. Care and treatment for concussions and brain injuries should only be under the control of a doctor or other health care professional.

One of the most dangerous of the false claims is that taking the supplement can promote faster healing from a concussion or traumatic brain injury. Gary Coody, the FDA’s National Health Fraud Coordinator, explained the danger: “We’re very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before the are really ready.”

Mr. Coody explained that even if the ingredients are all-natural, and are not harmful in and of themselves, the supplements are still dangerous if taking them leads someone to believe they are recovered enough to return to playing sports or engaging in activities that may put them at risk for re-injury. Multiple concussions can cause long-term ill health effects including brain damage, disease, long-term disability and death.

Be weary of any product that makes incredible claims of cure, prevention or faster healing of concussions. No such product exists. If you or a loved one suffers a concussion or traumatic brain injury, seek treatment from a health care professional and not the unproven claims of a dietary supplement.