Ephedra dangers have been well documented as this controversial herb has risen in popularity over the past decade. Used for thousands of years as a decongestant and cold fighter, potential side effects warrant increased research to determine its safety
Also known as ma haung, it's an ancient Chinese herb traditionally used to treat asthma, colds, congestion and coughs. It was used in teas originally, and is thought to be one of the world's oldest medicines. In addition to these purposes, it is used in modern times for weight loss and as an energy booster. But the potential dangers make the use of this herb very controversial.
The problem lies in the fact that if it is taken in large amounts, it could cause serious heart problems, a stroke, or even death in otherwise healthy people.
Researchers at the New England Medical Center attributed "14 cardiac arrests, 13 strokes, 9 heart attacks and more than 900 other adverse reactions" to the use of the herb.
Some components of ephedra have been shown to raise blood pressure as well as increase blood sugar levels.
Ephedra dangers also include insomnia as it is know to increase heart rate, as well as irritability, nervousness and mood swings.
It is also worth noting that it is on the U.S. Olympic Committee's list of banned substances.
**UPDATE** Government Announces Ban on Ephedra
According to a December 30, 2003 article on CNN.com, Federal officials announced plans to ban dietary supplements containing ephedra due to to continued health concerns. They are warning consumers not to take products containing ephedra as a result of ephedra dangers.
As of 2012 ephedra is still banned, and manufacturers have since replaced the ingredient with others that are purported to achieve the same effect.
We do not recommend taking the herb due to the serious potential side effects. Although some people have been successful with it and have not experienced any adverse reactions, the new government ban raises some serious concerns about potential dangers.
We choose not to take it ourselves, rather we have been taking a comprehensive supplement that includes other herbs for energy and weight loss, along with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The dangers far outweigh the benefits as far as we are concerned.
If you are interested in taking an energy boost or weight loss herbal supplement but want to avoid ephedra dangers, you should look for one that has standardized herbal extracts, along with other essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals necessary for promoting general health and well-being.
Many herbalists and scientists feel that you can achieve better results with a blend of herbs in one formula. Here's why:
A) You can help several body systems at one time - you can treat the problem with one herb, protect your body with another and make sure the problem does not return with yet another herb.
B) Many herbs work together synergistically - often a blend of herbs can work better together than one herb on its own. The therapeutic effect is enhanced by the herbs working together.
C) Herbs can offset the possible side effects of each other - an herb that helps alleviate a problem in one area can help treat a slight side effect that may be caused by another.
Here are some other important considerations and facts:
Did you know the contents of natural health products are not regulated? Not only that, there can be discrepancies from one brand to another, and even from one batch to another of the same brand!
Poor quality control and quality assurance are direct consequences of this lack of regulation and oversight.
That's why you need to make sure the manufacturer of any products you use follows what is known as pharmaceutical GMP compliance. Supplements that are produced at such facilities follow similar stringent guidelines that pharmaceutical drugs do.
It's also critical that you only purchase supplements made from what are called standardized herbal extracts. These are herbal supplements with the highest potency...that is, the active ingredients that are responsible for the herb's medicinal properties.
Most supplement manufacturers do not use standardized extracts. Why? Simply because they are much more expensive to produce -- they figure if the customer doesn't know any better, they can make a product for a lot cheaper, and, therefore, have a significantly inflated profit margin.
But, you, the customer lose...because without active ingredients, you do not derive any therapeutic benefits.
We have found an ephedra alternative supplement that meets all of the requirements we mentioned above:
The product is called Garcinia and Green Coffee Bean and it contains a synergistic balance of herbs for energy and weight loss and other essential nutrients for general health and well-being.
We have also found a very high quality Bee Pollen Extract supplement for an energy boost as well as other therapeutic benefits.
Many of our editors as well as our visitors have experienced success with the EcoSlim and Bee Pollen Extract supplements. One member of our team is an experienced marathon runner and he uses both products daily to enhance his performance.
As with all health supplements, results vary from person to person so be sure to consult your physician or qualified herbal professional before taking any supplement to boost energy, lose weight or to avoid ephedra dangers or ephedra side effects.