Study Found 89% of Botanical Sports Supplements Were Mislabeled

The past two decades have faced a significant increase in athletics use of botanical sports supplements.

Botanical sports supplement companies are supposed to accurately declare the herbal ingredients and plant extracts on the labels of these supplements. 

Similarly, these supplements should not contain any of the FDA-prohibited herbal products. 

Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite. 

A recent study has revealed that about 89% of these supplements did not accurately mention the ingredients. 

The same study also showed that about 12% of these supplements contain at least one FDA-prohibited ingredient like oxiracetam, octodrine, and 1,4-dimethylamylamine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t recognize these drugs as safe and even issued warning letters to the companies for using these ingredients. 

Thus, choosing a safe botanical sports supplement rather than a mislabeled one is essential for health.

Keep reading to learn more about the problems with the supplement industry and how to choose safe supplements.

Study finds only 11% of sports supplements were accurately labeled

A recent study was conducted on 57 sports supplements that claimed to be botanical. 

The study found that:

  • 23 of 57 products (40%) did not contain a detectable amount of the labeled ingredient. Thus, these products are just misleading their buyers through false labeling.
  • 7 of 57 products (12%) were found to contain at least 1 FDA-prohibited ingredient, including synthetic ingredients. This can cause many health-related side effects, including high blood pressure and breathing problems.
  • Of the products that contained detectable amounts of the listed ingredient, the actual quantity ranged from 0.02% to 334% of the labeled quantity. By doing so, these products expose their consumers to either large or low quantities of an ingredient. Large amounts can cause serious side effects, while low amounts can reduce the product’s effectiveness.
  • Only 11% of products were accurately labeled. This raises a big concern about using these sports supplements because there’s just about a 1/10th chance that the product contains what it is labeled.

Potential limitations of the study

It is worth mentioning that this study has some limitations, such as the following.

  • The sample size was small, and only 1 sample of each brand was analyzed; thus, the chances of incidental results are high.
  • Only sports supplements containing 1 of the following ingredients were analyzed: R vomitoria, methylliberine, turkesterone, halostachine, or octopamine. This makes it unjust to apply these results to all other botanical sports supplements that do not claim to contain these five ingredients.

Thus, similar studies with a large sample size should also be conducted to analyze this issue further at a broader level.

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Have other studies found similar results?

Yes, numerous other studies have revealed the mislabeling of herbal supplements; however, those studies didn’t specifically test the FDA-prohibited or illegal ingredients in these supplements. 

For example, a study on dietary supplements sold on military installations revealed that only 9 out of 20 products mention an accurate amount of caffeine on their label. 

Similarly, 6 out of 20 products contain high amounts of caffeine without mentioning it on their label. 

It clearly highlights the fact that supplement companies often mislabel the ingredients present in their supplements.

How to choose safe supplements

  1. Closely look at the ingredients and then search the web to see if they are FDA-approved. Do not choose a sports supplement with FDA-non-approved or banned ingredients, such as ephedra, oxiracetam, or octodrine.
  2. Consult your physician about your current health status and sports supplements because some ingredients might not suit your medical condition. For instance, stimulants can deteriorate cardiac functions, particularly in people with previously diagnosed heart conditions. That’s why it is recommended to avoid stimulants in people with heart arrhythmias. 
  3. Prefer safe herbal products like ginseng and echinacea instead of illegal/banned ingredients. Echinacea is a relatively safer sports stimulant that increases exercise endurance, immunity, and breathing mechanisms. Similarly, ginseng is a popular herbal ingredient often used in sports supplements to augment energy production and delay fatigue.
  4. Always buy sports supplements from credible shops and brands because the FDA usually keeps a check and balance on these products. However, it is not viable for the FDA to check each product available in small stores or unpopular websites.

Quoting from the study, “Given these findings, clinicians should advise consumers that supplements listing botanical ingredients with purported stimulant or anabolic effects may not be accurately labeled and may contain FDA-prohibited drugs.” 

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How Ben’s Natural Health is different 

At Ben’s Natural Health, our motto is to combine holistic healing with modern science.

Ben’s Natural Health is the world’s first high-quality, all-natural, scientifically proven clinical supplement company. Our supplements are effective, natural and 100% side effect free.

As we manufacture exclusively in the United States, all of our labels have to pass through FDA and FTC compliance

For quality control, we take it further than most. Our key ingredients, such as the Beta Sitosterol, are sent to independent third-party laboratories for spectroscopic and chemical analysis.

This not only determines that the ingredient is what it says it is but also that its profile matches. 

For instance, not only is the Beta Sitosterol genuine, but it contains 90% plant sterols, so it’s as efficacious as we think. 

In addition, once the products are bottled, we run another stage of quality control, where the finished product is analyzed and tested. 

This confirms that it hasn’t been adulterated during the manufacturing process and is absolutely safe for human consumption

Those tests are carried out in-house by the labs, which are all accredited either by NSF or Eurofins – both of which are optional standards above and beyond the US statutory minimum.

Moreover, at Ben’s Natural Health, we have four rules for all our supplements:

  • We only use the highest-quality ingredients
  • We only use them if they have been proven to work in independent, peer-reviewed, double-blind studies
  • With all our supplements, we find a way to get every ingredient into a single bottle
  • We always formulate them in clinically significant doses of the most bioavailable form


A recent study published in JAMA Network revealed that about 89% of herbal sports supplements are mislabeled. 

In addition to mislabeling, some of these supplements also contain FDA-prohibited ingredients. 

These ingredients, such as octoxiracetam and octodrine, can seriously affect health. 

Although the study has a small sample size, its results are augmented by previous studies on mislabeling herbal supplements. 

Certain measures can help you choose a safe supplement, including consultation with a physician and purchasing from a credible store.

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  1. Cohen PA, Avula B, Katragunta K, Travis JC, Khan I. Presence and Quantity of Botanical Ingredients With Purported Performance-Enhancing Properties in Sports Supplements. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(7):e2323879. 
  2. FDA. Peak Nootropics LLC aka Advanced Nootropics. 2019.
  3. Cohen PA, Attipoe S, Travis J, Stevens M, Deuster P. Caffeine Content of Dietary Supplements Consumed on Military Bases. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(7):592–594. 
  4. FDA ban nearly wiped out deaths, poisonings from ephedra. 2015.

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