In Australia and in many other parts of the world, consumers have enthusiastically embraced complementary and alternative medicines – but how reliable is the provenance of these products? Australian researchers have recently used novel techniques such as DNA metabarcoding and mass spectrometry to examine what is actually in complementary medicines, finding that nearly 50% of products tested had contamination issues, in terms of DNA, chemical composition or both. There were two instances described as clear cases of pharmaceutical adulteration, including a combination of paracetamol and chlorpheniramine in one product and another with trace amounts of buclizine (an antihistamine and anticholinergic drug). Soem products also had undeclared presence of stimulants such as caffeine or ephedrine. DNA data highlighted potential allergy concerns (nuts, wheat), presence of potential toxins (Neem oil) and animal ingredients (from sources as eclectic as reindeer, frog, and shrew). The researchers advocate for stronger pre-market evaluation. Read more here