Ephedra - Warning! Ephedra, MaHuang, or Ephedra sinica, is a herb
that contains natural amphetamine-like substances called pseudoephedrine
and methylephedrine. Ephedra has been added to several popular
over-the-counter food supplements and then promoted as a weight
loss aid. Effects of this drug on
the body include increased
heart beat, heart palpitations, nervousness, insomnia, and headaches, along with a small amount
of weight loss that can be achieved due to the "upper"
effect Ephedra has on the nervous system.
Many people mistakenly
believe that because chemicals occur "naturally" in
plants, that they must be good for us. Mother Nature wouldn't want to harm us!
some of these chemicals are safe, like chlorophyll that gives
green plants their color, and others are helpful, like isothiocyanate,
a phytochemical, some can be dangerous if ingested. Many chemicals
found in plants are identical to those made in the laboratory
and are classified as drugs, like salicylates found in willow
bark which is used to make aspirin.
The role of the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to regulate food, drugs,
and cosmetics. Because they have limited resources, the FDA does
not investigate products unless serious illness or death has
occurred. Instead, the responsibility of complying with drug
laws is left up to each individual manufacturer of the product.
In March of 2004, because of thousands of illness-related problems
and some deaths that were attributed to the use of Ephedra, the
FDA banned dietary supplements containing Ephedra.
about using herbal supplements: It's dangerous to experiment with unregulated
drugs that change or alter the natural workings of your body.
They can cause serious side effects, and in many cases death,
even when taking the recommended dosage. In a large population,
some groups of people will experience side effects from some
drugs while others will not. Unfortunately, there is no way to
know beforehand which group you are in, and the manufacturers
of these products don't know either.
with your doctor before using herbal supplements, especially
if you're taking other prescription drugs. Do not use herbal
supplements if you're taking antidepressants, MAO inhibitors,
have a history of high blood pressure, strokes, kidney or heart
disease. Never take herbal supplements while you're breast feeding
- most drugs contained in these supplements are passed along
into breast milk and into the child - and never take any drug
or herb if you're pregnant without first checking with your doctor!
a reduction in overall calorie intake and/or increased exercise
to burn off excess calories. Simply put, it requires that you
so much and get more exercise. Dietary weight loss supplements that
are labeled as "safe" are so because they are not supposed
to contain anything that is harmful if ingested. Unfortunately,
that also means they don't contain anything that will promote
weight loss. Studies show that any weight loss occurring when
taking these supplements was due to a low calorie diet that subjects
were also adhering to.
Some herbal supplements
contain mild diuretics that help decrease body fluid, and because
water is heavy, a reduction in body fluid shows up as lost pounds
on the scale. But diuretics have no effect on decreasing body
fat. Fluid can be lost very quickly - as much as a pound a day.
Fat is slow to go. Weight loss patches, wafers, pills, bracelets,
magnets and other such gimmicks don't work.
For your information:
produced in the adrenal glands, is one of the newest diet gimmicks
and is being blamed for your obesity. The claim is that the cortisol
your body naturally produces is somehow making you fat. "It's
not your fault you're overweight" should be touted instead
as "It's not your fault you eat too much." After examining
the advertisements and the ingredients contained in the supplements,
it's clearly unclear how they are supposed to promote weight
loss, other than by following the advice to decrease your food
intake and get more exercise while taking the supplements.
to improve memory) can cause bleeding into the head and front
chamber of the eye.
Garcinia Cambogia (used in weight loss supplements) is
nothing more than dried fruit rinds.
is a drug that increases the metabolic rate. Usnic acid causes
toxicity to the liver resulting in liver failure and death.
Yohimbe Bark (claims to improve impotence) is an alkaloid
or hallucinogen that can cause increased heart rate, urination,
high blood pressure, and dizziness. It should not be used by
persons who have a history of kidney disease, gastric ulcers,
or heart disease.
Xenadrine is another form of ephedrine.
Xenadrine EFX contains synephrine, similar to ephedrine.
If you feel you've been harmed
by a dietary food supplement and would like to report it, contact
the FDA at 800-332-4010 or visit their web site at www.cfsan.fda.gov.
Where do you get your nutrition
information? Most states now have licensure laws for Dietitians
and Nutritionists. Be sure your nutrition advisor is "Licensed"
by the State as a Licensed Dietitian (LD) or Licensed Nutritionist
(LN), or in states that don't have licensure laws, a Registered
Barbara Herondorf, L.D.
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