Sometimes, a weight-loss product or dieting program can seem too good to be true. Companies have manufactured dietary supplements and promoted them with false or misleading promises. So the federal government and state governments have had to fight them when users of these products start showing serious side effects. Such is the case with ephedra, a once-popular stimulant now severely restricted by the Food and Drug Administration. Here is some information on ephedra dangers.
What is Ephedra?
Ephedra is an herb that contains a chemical called ephedrine. WebMD writes that this chemical “stimulates the heart, the lungs, and the nervous system,” which produces a range of effects on the human body. In the past, it was popularly touted as a drug capable of helping dieters lose weight quickly. Ephedra and other products with ephedrine have also been in use as exercise supplements.
Please note that when we mention ephedra in this article, we refer to Ephedra sinica (also known by its Chinese name ma huang) and not Ephedra nevadensis (sometimes called American ephedra or Mormon tea). Only Ephedra sinica has ephedrine and the other chemicals that make it so effective – and so dangerous.
Is Ephedra Bad For You?
Ephedra is not entirely negative, and it does have approved medical uses. Livestrong.com claims that it is mainly used for treating respiratory tract conditions because its primary ingredient is capable of opening the bronchial tubes. In addition to these, WebMD also lists that the drug is useful in the treatment of nasal congestion, hay fever, and allergies; as well as conditions not related to breathing; such as joint pain, difficulties with sweating or urinating, colds and cold symptoms, and headaches.
With that said, ephedra can produce dangerous and even lethal side effects. Ephedra use damages the heart muscle. There have been cases where it contributes to severe problems; such as irregular heartbeat, chest pain, cardiac arrest, and heart attacks. Strokes are more likely to occur, as are seizures – and to those who are already vulnerable to seizures, ephedra can make them even worse than usual. Other ephedra dangers include high blood pressure, increased anxiety, and muscle disorders. These adverse side effects are only amplified when combined with other drugs or stimulants, such as caffeine.
Is Ephedra Legal?
Ephedra used to be legal in the United States as a supplement for weight loss and exercise. But in 1997, the FDA announced their intentions to ban supplements with ephedra and ephedrine alkaloids. The supplement industry fought a protracted battle to discredit all health concerns related to these products. But Congress was eventually no longer able to ignore thousands of reports of conditions, disabilities, and deaths linked to ephedra. The 2004 ban continues to be upheld and enforced.
People can still purchase the ephedra herb itself, and they can buy products containing ephedra and ephedrine alkaloids for medical use. Even then, there are still restrictions in place. Unless a licensed medical professional prescribes more, no one can buy or sell more than three packages with a combined nine grams’ worth of these chemicals or drugs containing the substances.
Contact NJ Personal Injury Attorneys Experienced in Ephedra Dangers and Litigation
Considering all the perils posed by these drugs, you must consult with a physician about safety measures if they prescribe you any medicine or treatment involving ephedra. If you or a loved one ever suffer from ephedra dangers, you should not only receive immediate medical treatment but also consult an NJ personal injury lawyer who can help you with this matter. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao are willing to represent you in court and fight for your right to receive compensation. Contact us today at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation today.