The return of EphedraEphedra is naturally occuring substance with it's active ingredient being Ephedrine.
Ephedrine is a stimulant, with pseudoephedrine being one of the ingredients used to manufacture amphetamine, more commonly known as the drug speed. Because Ephedra comes naturally from a plant the DSHEA laws in the US, allowed ephedra to be promoted as a "natural" health product.
There were many promotions claiming that ephedra made your metabolism speed up, buring off fat at a faster rate and that it enhanced athletic performance. When combined with other stimulants, such as caffeine, the result can be dangerous. Importantly, there are no studies or tests proving that ephedra acts on the human body as stated by the promoters.
The popularity of ephedra climbed, as did the body count. When 23 year old athelete, Steve Bechler, a promising baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles died, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finally acted to have the substance banned. The FDA weighed the benefits of ephedra against the risks and determined that with no proven benefit, that any amount was too great to risk.
Unfortunately, that decision has been overturned in a recent court case. An ephedra supplier, Nutraceutical Corporation claimed the FDA was wrong to ban it's product that would only supply 10mg on ephedrine if taken as labelled. The court ruled that the FDA was incorrect to use the risk/benefit model in determining the safety of a substance. the court concluded that with no study showing that ephedra at 10mg per day is dangerous, the decision to ban the product was wrong.
Now, wait a minute. There is no scientific evidence that ephedra provides any benefit at all. There is evidence that ephedra is dangerous at higher copncentrations. This shows that the DSHEA laws are working exactly as they were intended. Not to protect the public against dangerous and unproven substances, but to protect those who wish to sell these unproven treatments without having to provide any evidence that they work.
Those in Australia and New Zealand thinking that this is one of those "only in America" stories, I have some bad news. The Australian body that regulates medicines, the Therapuetic Goods Administration (TGA) has similar rules. Listed items (SCAM) are not required to show any scientific evidence of efficacy. Regardless of the rules, there are always companies willing to sell banned products.
Surely, any item that is being sold to the public with health claims should be required to be able to prove those claims. Our current system where you can sell anything until there is proof that the substance kills would be laughable, if it was not responsible for so many deaths each year.
Health & medicine must be based on scientific fact, not superstition and faith.
"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."