Ephedra Ban

A supplement popular among athletes, bodybuilders and dieters is now off limits to young people in Florida.

Gov. Bush has just signed a new law, which treats ephedrine just like cigarettes. You must be 18 or older with a photo id to buy it.

Rod Foys has been a competitive body builder for nearly eight years. He has taken ephedra off and on, and says when it comes to getting into top form, it works.

"I seem to get leaner. It burns body fat. I can definitely see it in my abs after I've used it for a week or two and I get a lot of energy from it," says Rod.

Illinois just became the first state to ban the sale of all Ephedra products, and effective 2004, Florida will ban them for anyone under 18. A move hailed by pharmacologist Phillip Treadwell.

"I think that's perfectly appropriate. This is a drug that can cause people to die and certainly has the potential to do that when abused," says Treadwell.

A study recently commissioned by the National Institutes of Health suggests the safety risks of taking ephedrine are unreasonable: heart attack, stroke and death.

The study helped to convince Tallahassee's New Leaf Market to begin phasing out its supply of Ephedra-based supplements.

"There was the major controversy with, I believe, Steve Bechler the Orioles Pitcher and just really the controversy that has swirled around the issue of ephedra," says Brandon Alkire, Supplements Manager for New Leaf Market.

Yet some of those looking to lose weight or enhance their athletic performance contend Ephedra is safe and effective when taken properly.

The new law in Florida requires retailers to card young people before allowing them to buy Ephedra-based supplements, much like it must card them when they attempt to buy beer or cigarettes. It goes into effect July 1, 2004.

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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: http://www.ephedra.demon.nl (The Ephedra Site)