Ephedra ‘adulterated and unacceptable,’ says FDA

The fallacy that the word ‘herbal’ is synonymous to ‘safe’ has led some Americans to try the herbal weight-loss/energy supplement ephedra. Ephedra, also called Ma huang, is a botanical. Its principal active ingredient is ephedrine, which when chemically synthesized is regulated as a drug. The Bush Administration has concerns regarding ephedra; and enough of them that they have decided to ban the supplement. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that President Bush has always expressed his concern for the safety of women and it ‘continues to be a priority for him.’ A consumer alert issued by the Food and Drug Administration on December 30, 2003 reads: \\"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting the public to its forthcoming determination that dietary supplements containing ephedra present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury, and should not be consumed. The agency has notified firms manufacturing and marketing these products that it intends to issue a final rule prohibiting their sale, which will become effective 60 days after its publication.\\"The FDA also announced that \\"The rule will conclude that dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids present an unreasonable risk to the public health and are adulterated and unacceptable.\\"Officials say the drug has been linked to over 100 deaths and has also contributed to several heart attacks and strokes. The FDA says, \\"Recent studies have also confirmed that ephedra use raises blood pressure and otherwise stresses the circulatory system, effects that have been conclusively linked to significant and substantial adverse health effects like heart problems and strokes.\\"

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