Herbalife is a line of herbal supplements and weight loss products. According to the Herbalife website, they have a formula to treat anything from anemia to weight loss. There are approximately 16 different products in all, with their weight loss formulas being the most popular. Like with any other weight loss product, Herbalife products have potential side effects you should be aware of.
Because Herbalife contains a variety of ingredients, there is a potential for a variety of side effects depending on the product being used. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all known side effects be listed on the label of each product, along with instructions regarding what to do should you experience any of these side effects. There is also the potential of interactions with prescription drugs, so it is important to contact your physician or pharmacist before starting this or any other type of weight loss program.
Herbalife, like many other diet products on the market, at one time contained the stimulant ephedra (also called ma huang). This drug was found to cause primary pulmonary hypertension, and in 2004 the FDA outlawed the sale of ephedra. Herbalife then removed the ingredient from their products. According to the FDA, side effects from the use of ephedra may not show up for several years after it was initially taken, so physicians have been warned to check for ephedra use in patients who have primary pulmonary hypertension.
Many Herbalife products contain caffeine as a stimulant and metabolism booster. Caffeine can cause high blood pressure, nervousness and headaches, especially when taken in excessive amounts. An average cup of coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine per cup, and most of Herbalife’s products that contain caffeine have an average of about 75 mg of caffeine per serving. Those who are allergic to caffeine need to check the product labels carefully for this ingredient.
Soy and shellfish are two ingredients in Herbalife that could pose a threat for potential allergic reaction. Again, because of the vast variety of Herbalife products available, consumers who plan to take any of these products should check the label carefully for these ingredients.
Diarrhea and constipation have been reported by some individuals who used Herbalife supplements, especially in the first few weeks of use. In a report published by the "Journal of Hepatology" in 2007, there has been an association between the use of Herbalife products and sudden extremely acute hepatitis.