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Dietary Supplements for Concussions: a False Bill of Goods

Written by Tom Crosley
Brain Injuries, Catastrophic Personal Injury

With concussions making major headlines in the national media, many companies (mostly online) are promoting dietary supplements as a means of preventing and treating these traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). As such, the FDA has begun issuing warnings to businesses that claim their supplements are useful in dealing with issues related to concussions. The FDA is also warning potential consumers about the dangers of these products, which have not been scientifically proven to be safe or effective.

Although often overlooked in the past, we now know that concussions are very complex injuries that can have serious long-term effects if not diagnosed properly or treated correctly. They require comprehensive treatment, and patients should be monitored until a physician provides a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, many patients (especially athletes) are eager to return to their regular lifestyle and may see these supplements as a way of speeding up that process. Of course, the problem is that the healing process after a concussion will vary with each individual case and should not be rushed.

According to Gary Coody, FDA’s National Health Fraud Coordinator, “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.”

When discussing concussions, it’s important to remember that there are many cognitive and emotional symptoms – not just physical ones. Many times, patients become confused, disoriented, or impulsive after suffering a concussion and may make rash decisions as a result. To the concussion victim frustrated by their symptoms and perhaps not thinking clearly, these supplements might seem like a viable option – a “get-well-quick” method of recovery. Unfortunately, no such thing exists for head injuries, and these supplements could lead patients dealing with severe symptoms to assume that they’ve recovered, which can put them at risk for even more dangerous and debilitating health problems.

Supplements claiming to treat concussions commonly include ingredients such as turmeric and high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Even if these products contain no harmful ingredients, they offer a false promise, leading many individuals to resume their regular lifestyles before they are ready. If this includes strenuous activities, the results could lead to further concussions and even more serious health complications, including brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.

Initially, the Department of Defense was the first organization to be made aware that these products were being offered, as they were marketed toward military veterans who had suffered from TBI. They then alerted the FDA, who began their surveillance and investigation into the matter. Although the FDA consistently monitors the market for companies making false claims, it can be difficult to determine the validity and efficacy of the more than 85,000 supplements available – especially since no product registry currently exists in the United States.

It’s important to remember that these supplements are not backed by hard science and have not been approved by the FDA. They cannot prevent concussions, and they cannot treat them after they have occurred. If you have suffered a TBI or are concerned that your lifestyle could lead to one, you should consult with a physician. Your doctor can explain the potential health implications of a concussion or provide you with treatment and recovery options if you have already suffered one.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion and are seeking restitution for the injuries and hardships sustained and endured, please contact Crosley Law Firm at (877) 535-4529 or visit us online. Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys have a great deal of experience in personal injury, and we have handled many TBI cases. We offer free consultations to discuss the specific details of your case, and our no-fee policy ensures that you will not pay a dime unless or until we are able to settle your case.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2014). FDA: Can a dietary supplement treat a concussion? No! FDA. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm378845.htm

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