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Ephedra: Heart Attacks and Other Side Effects

Use of herbal products containing ephedra (or ma huang) has been linked to over 1000 injuries and 150 deaths, according to the FDA. Ephedra, contained in a number of over-the-counter weight loss and energy boosting products, causes high blood pressure potentially leading to bleeding in the brain, strokes, heart attacks, and death.

Athletes and young people can be especially attracted to ephedra-based products and tend to use them in dangerously high dosages. In fact, the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler in February 2003 was linked to a weight loss supplement containing ephedra.

The Ephedra Ban

The FDA’s decision to ban ephedra is an indication of how dangerous the product can be. Normally, dietary supplements are considered “food additives” and fall outside the jurisdiction of the FDA. Unlike drugs, herbal supplements don’t have to be approved by the FDA before going on the market. In order for the agency to block a product’s sale, it must prove that it poses a significant and unreasonable risk, as was the case with ephedra.

Because of this loophole, dietary supplement manufacturers can make wide ranging health claims about their products that have no scientific basis. They can also list them on their labels under multiple names. For example, ephedra was commonly found on labels as: Epitonin, Ephedrine, Chinese Ephedra, Pseudoephedrine, and Norpseudoephedrine.

Ephedra Lawsuits – Metabolife

Metabolife International was ordered to pay $4 million to four people who suffered strokes and cardiac injuries after taking ephedra-based Metabolife 356. This product has been compared to “speed” since it produces the same effects as an amphetamine. Amphetamines speed up a person’s heart rate and increase blood pressure. These side effects pose serious health risks, especially to individuals suffering from obesity. Victims, however, may have thought that they were making a healthy choice because the product was marketed as being “all natural.”

If you or your loved one has suffered an Ephedra injury, contact us today. Submit the form to the right and we’ll let you know if you have a case and if we can represent you.