FDA Issues Warning on Concussion Supplements

Buyer beware: No science supports their claims

Chart made of tablets and pills

If it were only that easy: take a pill and avoid a concussion. Problem is, no scientific evidence supports the claim that any dietary supplement is effective in the treatment or prevention of concussion.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a strong warning recently about dietary supplements that claim to help you avoid a concussion or recover more quickly from one.

The FDA is telling consumers to avoid taking these supplements and is warning the sellers to stop making claims that their products treat or prevent concussion.

Exploiting rising awareness about concussions

“We don’t have any evidence that any medication, vitamin, or herb will help people to recover after head trauma,” says Andrew Russman, DO, a concussion expert at Cleveland Clinic.

Companies that market dietary supplements for concussion are merely exploiting the rising awareness and concern about traumatic brain injuries, Dr. Russman says.

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No drug can speed recovery from concussion

The FDA says that one of the most common – and potentially dangerous – claims made by sellers of these dietary supplements is that they help a concussion to heal faster. That claim could result in an athlete with a concussion resuming activities prematurely.

The effects from a concussion can be serious and last for days, weeks, or even longer.

“Rest is necessary to give time for the brain and the brain processes to heal and return to their normal state or near-normal state,” Dr. Russman says. Therapies also may be needed to manage symptoms such as headaches or dizziness.

Early return can spell serious health risk

If concussion patients resume strenuous activities – such as football, soccer or hockey – too soon, they also risk a greater chance of having another concussion, the FDA says. Once you have a concussion, you are at three to five times greater risk for later concussions.

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A second concussion that occurs before the brain has recovered from a first one can slow permanent recovery and increase the chances for long-lasting problems, Dr. Russman says. These problems include difficulties with concentration and memory, headaches and sometimes physical skills such as keeping one’s balance.

Moreover, repeat concussions can have a cumulative effect on the brain, with devastating consequences that can include brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

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