FDA Warns of Supplements Claiming to Treat Concussion

FDA says concussion symptoms cannot be treated with dietary supplements

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) With school back in session, kids also are starting a variety of sports seasons. Naturally, parents may be thinking about their children's safety while playing sports and what to do if their young athlete has an injury like a concussion.

One thing they shouldn't do, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is turn to dietary supplements that supposedly treat concussions.

The FDA is warning consumers to avoid dietary supplements that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The agency said that there is no evidence that these products are safe or effective for concussion treatment.

"Seek immediate medical care if you have a concussion."

In a recent press statement, the FDA explained that one common yet misleading claim is that certain dietary supplements speed up the healing process after a concussion or other TBI.

According to Gary Coody, the FDA's National Health Fraud Coordinator, such claims can be dangerous, even if the supplement doesn't contain any harmful ingredients.

"We're very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready," Coody said. "Also, watch for claims that these products can prevent or lessen the severity of concussions or TBIs."

A concussion is a type of TBI that changes the way the brain functions. While most concussions are caused by a blow to the head, they also can happen when the head or upper body is violently shaken. Concussions and other TBIs are serious injuries that a health care professional must properly diagnose, treat and monitor.

The long-term effects of concussions have been a popular topic of discussion in recent years. At the same time, researchers have been studying how concussion victims can best recover from their injuries. The research suggests that if people return to strenuous activity too soon after a concussion, they have a higher risk of having another concussion — and repeat concussions can have serious and lasting effects like brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most appropriate way to recover from a concussion is rest, which means avoiding strenuous activities like football, soccer and other sports. Rest also means limiting activities that require thinking and concentration, such as schoolwork, reading, watching TV or playing video games.

"There is simply no scientific evidence to support the use of any dietary supplement for the prevention of concussions or the reduction of post-concussion symptoms that would allow athletes to return to play sooner,” said Charlotte Christin, acting director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, in a press statement.

The FDA said it is taking action against companies marketing dietary supplements as concussion treatments. In situations such as this, the agency's first step typically is to send warning letters.

Review Date: 
September 3, 2014
Last Updated:
September 4, 2014