Thursday, February 21, 2008


Years ago I took an Ephedra product. I had a low stroke volume, heart rate and blood pressure and was sitting in a chair. All of a sudden my heart started to beat quickly and irregularly. I knew this product was out of whack. Years later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned. I should have written a report!

Most people do not need supplements most of the time. This is a great example.

Ephedra, or Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica) is a stimulant herb that can be found in supplements, teas, cold medications and asthma medications. It is sympthomimetic agent, acting like the "fight or flight" hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine.
It increases cardiac blood output, enlarges bronchial airways, enhances muscle contraction and increases blood glucose availability while exercising.

Claims include that it enhances weight loss, increases muscle mass, boosts energy, delays fatigue onset and decreases appetites. Few studies have been done on Ephedra or support these claims. Ephedra and caffeine has been shown to improve time to exhaustion and lower rating of perceived exertion in high-intensity cycling.

The FDA has had more than 800 reports of adverse events,including death, as a result of Ephedra ingestion.

Other adverse events include: heart attacks; stroke; angina; irregular heart beats; irritability; dizziness; diarrhea; headaches; nausea.

Some teas or other products may have trace levels of Ephedra. I suggest not to ingest these products. Definitely do not ingest any products with Ephedra in the top four ingredients.

Some of this information was taken from Winning Sports Nutrition by Linda Houtkooper, PhD, RD, FACSM, Jaclyn Maurer Abbot, PhD, RD and Veronica Mullins, MS, RD, CSCS.

Disclaimer: None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional, such as a physician.

My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on,, and If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.

No comments: