Ephedra, or Ma Huang, is a substance made from plants that contain ephedrine alkaloids. It is similar to amphetamines and can produce a strong, stimulating effect on both the heart and nervous system. Other similar dietary supplements that are designed to help people lose weight, gain muscle mass, and increase energy also contain ephedrine alkaloids.
Ephedra Lawsuit Update
In 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary revealed that additional research must be conducted on the safety of ephedrine alkaloids and that the marketing efforts of artificial ephedrine alkaloid products that are non-herbal will be diligently pursued.
The RAND Corporation has received funding from HHS to extensively research ephedrine alkaloids, especially when these substances are found in dietary supplements. The results gathered will be used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) so that additional research can be conducted evaluating the safety of ephedrine alkaloids.
Adverse Reactions to Ephedra
Convulsions, heart attack, depression, palpitations, seizures, stroke, paranoid psychosis, fever, hypertension, tachycardia, vomiting, respiratory depression, coma and death are several of the known adverse reactions that can be caused by Ephedrine. These findings provide support for the controversy that has surrounded Ephedra.
Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, on the negative reactions caused by Ephedra found that 10 deaths occurred, 43 instances that were absolutely related to the dietary supplements, 13 people who experienced life-long disability and 44 cases that were very likely to be related to such supplements. The Food and Drug Administration has also found that more than 1,000 severe side effects and 44 deaths are connected to use of Ephedrine.
After reviewing over 140 reports gathered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), researchers have determined that use of Ephedrine resulted in serious consequences in 31 percent of cases. Of the people who were affected, seven individuals experienced life-long injury, four needed extended medical treatment and three people lost their life.