Monday, April 25, 2005

The return of Ephedra

Ephedra 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."


At Saturday, July 09, 2005 10:20:00 am, Blogger Stephen said...

Your comment "There is no scientific evidence that ephedra provides any benefit at all." is wrong. Ephedrine, the main active ingredient has been legitimately utilised in medicine as a treatment for asthma for years.

You also write: "There is evidence that ephedra is dangerous at higher copncentrations.".

Every drug is dangerous at higher concentrations - not just ephedra.

The point is that asthmatics should consult with someone like their doctor about ephedra or pharamcist before self-medicating.

At Tuesday, August 16, 2005 1:25:00 pm, Blogger Kevin Paine said...

Stephen is correct. Virtually anything in a high enough quantity can be toxic.

People should consult their doctor before taking ephedra or any other supplement. The doctor should be kept up to date with the latest research and advise based on scientifically proven research, not the marketing claims of pharmacuetical or supplement companies.

We all make mistakes as I have with this article. Thanks Stephen for pointing them out.

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At Wednesday, November 28, 2012 2:06:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study a few years back concluding that ephedrine in a caffeine stack or an ECA Stack can produce 2.2 lbs of fat burned per month. Important to check with a doctor, but definitely a lot of thermogenic power in this supplement!

At Friday, February 14, 2014 1:12:00 am, Anonymous onel said...

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At Wednesday, June 04, 2014 6:19:00 am, Anonymous Martha said...

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At Saturday, June 10, 2017 7:31:00 am, Anonymous Christof said...

some medicines get banned and approved again as they are found to be effective for something else if there is no alternative yet. for some their life cycle starts again.

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