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Health Tips / Ephedra prohibited in the US

Sale of Ephedra Supplements to be prohibited in the US - Feb 2004


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the sale of Ephedra containing supplements in 2004 citing them as presenting "a significant and unreasonable risk to human health".

Ephedra which is also known as Ma Huang contains the active substance Ephedrine and has been promoted to aid weight loss or enhance sports performance and energy. According to the FDA they have received unsubstantiated reports of at least 70 deaths and more than 1,400 adverse events linked to Ephedra. Such adverse reports have included high blood pressure, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, headaches, seizures, heart attacks and strokes.

Prior to the ban US Manufacturer Metabolife, was found to have failed to forward details of over 13,000 adverse reactions associated with their Ephedra product. The FDA, at that time, recommended a criminal investigation of Metabolife to determine if they had lied about the dietary supplement s safety. Of the adverse reactions recorded by Metabolife, although 80 mention serious disease or death, and a company attorney said 100 to 200 others deal with people hospitalised but insists they did not prove that Ephedra is dangerous when used as directed.

According the the FDA, "the totality of the available data showed little evidence of ephedra s effectiveness except for short-term weight loss, while confirming that the substance raises blood pressure and otherwise stresses the circulatory system. These reactions have been conclusively linked to significant adverse health outcomes, including heart ailments and strokes."

In 2000, U.S. sales of weight-loss products containing Ephedra is worth about $1 billion.

In Ireland, Ephedrine is subject to prescription as controlled under Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations. Ephedra has been in the past been found to be illegally present in some herbal sports and weight loss supplements marketed both in Ireland. Athletes subject to drug testing should remember that Ephedrine is prohibited in sport under the World Anti-doping Code.

It is recommended that those who have taken Ephedra or Ma Huang should contact their doctor.

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00