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Ephedra and the FDA
The Ma Huang Ban
Ask A Healer Weight Loss Series
About the Ma Huang Ban - Is Ephedra safe to take as a diet aid or for other health challenges?
by N J Howell
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Healthy Weight Loss
Update, 2015: In doing a search for broken links I found that my previous link to the FDA website on the matter of ephedra / ma huang ban no longer loaded. I went over to the website in an attempt to find it. I could not. It was also challenging to figure out if the FDA is still banning this herb in it's natural state or just as ephedrine.
An interesting herbal ban:
Ephedra (Ma Huang), as used for weight loss in certainly widely hyped weight loss products, has been banned by the FDA. They say they have no shortage of reasons to ban this health supplement. .
Among the health risks sited when taking ephedra are irregular heartbeat, hypertension, insomnia, tremors, seizures, nervousness, strokes, brain hemorrhages, heart attacks and death.
I actually agree with the FDA stand on the use of extracted, concentrated ephedrine alkaloids. Some of the diet products implicated in this ban contained over 100 times the amount of ephedra that would be present in a typical formulation from an herbalist. Also, most of these diet formulators, if not all of the ones involved in complications and/or death, extracted
one component from the whole plant synergy, something a good herbalist would never do.
Much as a dislike the FDA messing around in natural healing, I do feel this is a call that may have been warranted had it stopped with just banning those companies abusing the natural order of things by putting such concentrated amounts of ephedra in their products.
Unfortunately, the wording of their article on the subject feels more far-reaching and would seem to ban products that contain ephedra at all, except in the
approved synthetic form that is used in over-the-counter formulas for sinus congestion, etc.
This is an excellent example of bad alternative health care. It's good that these products were banned but it's bad that ma huang is often cited as the health culprit, in and of itself, which is just inaccurate.
It was the extraction of, and large concentration of, ephedra from the natural whole plant synergy that caused the problem.
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Health Care Disclaimer: Nature has a synergy to her creations that synthetic drugs and extracted components do not have. It can make the difference between an effective, safe ingredient and one that the body does not really know how to process. I am against synthetic versions of natural healing plants and each person must choose what works best for them. Talk over your weight loss goals with your doctor and, I hope, your nutritionist.