On Dec. 30, 2003, FDA issued a consumer alert on the safety of dietary
supplements containing ephedra. The alert advised consumers to immediately stop
buying and using ephedra products. Ephedra, also called Ma huang, is a
naturally occurring substance derived from plants. Its principal active
ingredient is ephedrine, which when chemically synthesized is regulated as a
drug. In recent years ephedra products have been extensively promoted to aid
weight loss, enhance sports performance, and increase energy.
Also on Dec. 30,
FDA notified manufacturers that it intends to publish a final rule stating that
dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids present an unreasonable risk
of illness or injury. The rule would have the effect of banning the sale of
these products as soon as it becomes effective, 60 days after publication.
It has been linked to the deaths of at least 100 people.
Contraindications include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, heart
palpitations, and can lead to stroke. If any of these symptoms develop, stop
using Ephedra immediately and consult your physician.
Insomnia, dry mouth, nervousness, general weakness, poor digestion,
irritability, headache, and dizziness.
Do not take Ephedra if you are pregnant, nursing or have heart disease, anxiety
disorder (panic attacks), high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, or an
overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
If you are taking any medication, consult your physician before using this
Do not take Ephedra if you are taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor drugs,
commonly prescribed for depression.
Do not administer to children under the age of 18 or to adults over the age of
Because Ephedra can cause a number of side effects and in rare cases, death,
consult a practitioner before using it
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that Ephedra be avoided in patients
with high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, and benign
prostatic hypertrophy. Caution is also recommended against use for pregnant,
nursing patients or those with anorexia, insomnia, depression, diabetes,
hyperthyroidism, gastric ulcers, bulimia, glaucoma, children, or use longer
than one week. Discontinue use if nervousness, tremor, sleeplessness, anorexia,
or nausea occurs.
The combination therapy of Ephedra herb and Loxoprofen caused gastric
mucosal lesions and loss of body weight. It is considered that this combination
therapy should be avoided because of its adverse effects.
uncontrolled observations suggest that herbal stimulants containing ephedrine (ephedra
or ma huang) and caffeine (cocoa, coffee, tea, mate, guarana, cola or kola) can
exacerbate seizures in people with epilepsy, especially when taken in
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