France issues dietary supplement warning amid Covid crisis

A list of plant-based supplements that could interfere with the body’s immune response against Covid has been issued by health and food safety agency Anses

1 November 2020
By Hannah Thompson

A list of dietary supplements that could stop your immune system from working as well as it could has been published by the French government, as the Covid-19 crisis continues to intensify.

The list comes from health and food safety agency l’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement et du travail (Anses), and has been published on government website

The dietary supplements listed are described as “possibly containing plants that could disrupt the body’s natural defence system against infections, such as Covid-19”.

Several plants have been identified as possible interfering with the body’s immune response.

They are:

Plants containing sources of salicylic acid (similar to aspirin):

  • White willow bark
  • Meadowsweet
  • Birch
  • Poplar
  • Goldenrod
  • Polygala tenuifolia

Plant-based anti-inflammatories

  • Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil's Claw)
  • Echinacea
  • Turmeric
  • Liquorice
  • Cat's claw
  • Plants of the Boswellia and Commiphora family (sometimes known as “incense” and “myrrh”).


Anses recommends that:

  • Anyone taking these dietary supplements as a preventative measure should stop eating or taking them immediately as soon as they experience symptoms of Covid-19
  • Anyone taking them as part of a treatment plan for chronic inflammatory conditions should speak with their doctor as soon as possible, to check if they should continue consuming them or not

Anses also reminded doctors and health professionals to be alert to any possible side effects of dietary supplements and to signal any significant reports or issues to Anses via its Nutrivigilance portal.

Medication safety agency l'Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM) has already put safeguards in place to stop people self-medicating using existing paracetamol-based or anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs, such as limiting their sale in pharmacies.

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