When Healthy Ingredients Aren’t Safe
In rural Indian villages, parents and children use medicinal plants from traditional Ayurvedic medicine in a way that they’ve done for thousands of years. The bacopa monnieri plant, a fat-soluble brain enhancing botanical, is plucked from the tree, combined with ghee (clarified butter), and is safe enough that it’s consumed by children. Generally speaking, it is hard to go wrong supplementing from directly off a well-known tree.
But in countries like Iceland, where Ayurvedic herbs cannot grow due to climate, more processing is required and this poses dangers. A handful of patients consuming the Ayurvedic botanical called ashwagandha contracted liver injury as a result of their supplementation. Traditionally, ashwagandha is considered one of the safest brain enhancing compounds out there (one reason why we added it to our DREAM formula). What gives?
In this instance, it turns out that the ashwagandha was tainted or had other problems from human processing. In other words: human error. The brands that were identified were the same manufacturers that you can find readily available on Amazon and your local big box store: NOW Ashwagandha, Nature’s Way Standardized Ashwagandha. No toxic compounds or trace metals were found so something else caused the problem.
This is one of the reasons we are so rigorous with our third party testing. Not only do we source our ashwagandha well, but we go through as many tests as possible to ensure its safe and provide the results to the general public to see for themselves. This time it was only a handful of individuals who had ill-health effects and only in Iceland. However, it is a good reminder that we cannot be complacent when sourcing even the “safest” of supplements. As large as the NOW and Nature’s Way brands are, neither of them provide third party certificates of analysis partially because they aim to be price effective. When it comes to our mental and physical health, you get what you pay for folks.