If it sounds like a supplement miracle, it's either a waste of your money - or dangerous for your health. And in the case of a new diet and sports supplement, the danger results from a meth-like chemical, according to a new study reported on October 14 by CNN.
The name says it all: Craze is a diet and sports supplement marketed to bodybuilders and fitness buffs. However, scientists who analyzed the supplement discovered a chemical compound similar to the illegal drug methamphetamine, reporting it in a study published in the peer-reviewed Drug Testing and Analysis journal.
What particularly concerns researchers: The substance N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine or N,a-DEPEA, has never been studied in humans, warns Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.
Because they studied three different samples and discovered N,a-DEPEA in all three, the researchers say that it was "not a minor contaminant resulting from the manufacturing process."
First discovered three years ago in South Korea, N,a-DEPEA is a methamphetamine analog. Related to meth, the relatively new drug is so powerful that it's marketed by criminals.
"Criminal-chemists start with a known drug - in this case methamphetamine, then in their factor they start making little changes to it," Cohen explained to CNN. "Here, they pop a few extra carbon and hydrogen molecules onto it. But the main structure/backbone/skeleton of the drug remains the same."
However, Cohen noted that the Craze labels indicate that a different chemical is the key ingredient. Because they could not even find that actually in the product, he believes that Craze's manufacturer, Driven Sports, did not directly change the drug's chemical structure. Instead, he theorizes that the company purchased it in bulk from a wholesaler.
But how did the drug make it to the market with a meth-like compound?
"Craze is a legal supplement that provides people with a tool to enhance their workouts, by combining natural extracts to increase their energy," Driven Sports said in a statement. "Craze conforms to all U.S. federal regulatory requirements and is proven safe when used as directed... Driven Sports has commissioned extensive testing of Craze from a reputable, independent laboratory, which conclusively establishes that the product does not contain any illegal stimulants."
And although samples were sent to the Food and Drug Administration last year; manufacturers and distributors are not required to get FDA approval before selling their products.
What do you think? Given this situation, should the FDA be governing diet samples more strictly? Post your comments below.