Illegal Substance?

Unless it's stopped by a judge, a ban on a once-popular weight loss stimulant will go into effect Monday.

The diet supplement ephedra is linked to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes. That prompted last year's announcement by the Food and Drug Administration it would ban the sale of the supplement in April.

Last month, NVE Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Stacker-2 ephedra brand products, filed a lawsuit to block the ban. The company says the FDA hasn't proven ephedra is dangerous if used as directed. Extended Web Coverage

What is Ephedra?

  • Known as Ma Huang, Ephedra is a member of the family of herbs known as the Ephedracae.

  • Ephedra has been used in China for more than 4,000 years to treat symptoms of asthma and upper respiratory infections.

  • American ephedra, native to the dry southwest, was used as tea by the early settlers, and was known as "Mormon tea" and "Squaw tea."

  • Compounds derived from this herb are commonly found in many over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.

  • Ephedra contains two alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
    • Ephedrine, the main constituent, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. It also relieves swellings of the mucous membrane.

    • Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant and has less stimulating effect on the heart and blood pressure.

  • Because of its stimulating effect on the nervous system, ephedra can be found in some popular weight loss and energy products.

  • For dieters it suppresses the appetite and stimulates the thyroid gland which stimulates metabolism.

  • Concerns over the potency of this herb and its isolated alkaloids have prompted increased regulatory scrutiny and industry label warnings.

Source: (The Ephedra Site)