One Study Proves Ephedra Safe and Effective

Jun 07, 2002

A study on the herbal diet remedy of ma huang ephedra and kola nut caffeine found that healthy, overweight people who took the product lost twice as much weight and more body fat than did a similar control group, without any significant difference between the two groups in heart function. Carol N. Boozer, DSc, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, and her Columbia/Harvard research team conducted the experiment on 167 overweight men and women.

“While this study didn’t show a lot of adverse effects, they didn’t use an off-the-shelf supplement,” says Christine A. Haller, MD, researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of an earlier study linking health problems to ephedra use. “There are many, many other ingredients in these supplements. It is not the same as Metabolife or others. I really don’t think you can use this as a study to invoke the safety of dietary supplements. This is just not what people out there are taking. Until we know about the other ingredients, we can’t speak to safety.”

Moderator Comment: Should the U.S. develop a third class designation for the sale of some supplements/medications beyond Rx only and OTC?

Neal Benowitz, MD, one of the authors of an earlier study
linking ephedra use to health problems says, “The adverse effects that occur
from dietary supplements can be catastrophic, but they are uncommon.” His recommendation
is that people who use ephedra should do so under a doctor’s supervision.

The rarity of adverse affects suggests that ephedra does
not need to be classified as a prescription medicine. The side effects, however,
also suggest that its use and therefore purchase should be regulated in some
manner. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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