Ephedra is an ingredient in some of today’s most popular energy and weight loss supplements. The chemical, derived from the Chinese herb ma huang, works by stimulating the central nervous system, much like adrenaline and caffeine. For athletes, it provides an extra boost of energy. For overweight users, it burns fat by raising the metabolism. Since these products are considered supplements, the FDA loosely regulates them during their manufacturing period. Recently, many supplements containing ephedra have been linked to dangerous side effects including high blood pressure, nerve damage, tremors, seizures, psychiatric symptoms, heart attack, stroke and even death.
How does it work?
Ephedra is a common ingredient in numerous energy and weight loss supplements. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the Chinese herb ma huang. Its active ingredient is ephedrine, a substance that is regulated as a drug, and common in decongestants and respiratory medicines. Ephedra is an amphetamine like stimulant that affects the central nervous system by boosting energy levels. It can also help the body burn fat and gain muscle by raising the metabolism.
Why are supplements so loosely regulated by the FDA?
Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the FDA regulates dietary supplements differently from conventional food and drugs. In this case, the manufacturer is responsible for their supplement’s safety before it is marketed. The FDA can take action after it reaches the market if adverse effects occur. Currently, the FDA, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, is taking action against these manufacturers. However, this is after ephedra-containing supplements became a $3-billion-a-year industry.
What are the dangers associated with ephedra?
Ephedra-containing supplements have been linked to death and other serious side effects, including high blood pressure, nerve damage, tremors, seizures, irregular heart rate, psychiatric symptoms, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, headaches, heart attacks and strokes.
How many ephedra users have suffered injury?
According to The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), consumers spend $3 billion on ephedra products every year. According to The New York Times, the FDA has received more than 100 reports of deaths among ephedra users, as well as 16,000 reports of other adverse effects.
What supplements contain ephedra?
The list of supplements that contain ephedra is long. The more popular ephedra-containing supplements include:
- Metabolife 356
- Ripped Fuel
- Diet Fuel
- Xenadrine RFA-1
- Stacker 3
- Up Your Gas
- Truckers Luv It
- Yellow Jackets
- There are many more!
What is being done to protect consumers?
In February 2003, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA announced a campaign to help protect Americans from potentially serious risks of dietary supplements containing ephedra. Before they work to ban the substance, they are going to:
Seek public comment on the new evidence on health risks associated with ephedra to support new restrictions.
Seek public comment on whether the studies suggest “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” from ephedra products.
Seek public comment on the new warning labels on ephedra products.
Immediately seek action against products making unsubstantiated claims.
By March 2003, the FDA and HHS required manufacturers to put warning labels on their ephedra-containing products.
I don’t know if the supplement I am taking contains ephedra. What should I do?
Check the ingredient label of the supplement you are taking or have taken. The list of supplements that contain ephedra is long. However, ephedra is listed under a few different names, which can help you pinpoint the potentially dangerous substance. These ingredients include:
- Ephedra Sinica
- Ephedra Extract
- Ephedra Herb Powder
- Ma Huang
- Chinese ephedra
- Pseudoephedrine and norpseudoephedrine
Free Case Evaluation!
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of taking this drug, contact Villari, Brandes & Giannone now for a free case evaluation because time is of the essence to protect your legal rights. Call us today toll free at 1-800-266-4743!