Consumer Reports Says Dont Take
Ephedra or Others Like It
Feb. 26, 2003 - Consumer Reports
Magazine has been warning about the dangers of the herbal stimulant
ephedra, and after new suspicions caused by the death of a
professional athlete, they want the FDA to ban it.
The Feb. 17 death of Baltimore Orioles
pitcher Steve Bechler focused new attention on the dangers of ephedra,
an herbal stimulant that is used for weight loss or bodybuilding and
has also been associated with serious health problems.
Bechler, 23, died of heatstroke after a
spring-training practice. Several news reports after his death told of
ephedra supplements found in his locker.Ephedra's known risks include
hypertension, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and seizures. Consumer
Reports magazine was among the first to warn the public about ephedra,
in a 1995 article. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports and
ConsumerReports.org, has called on the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to ban the use of ephedra in supplements.
The FDA has not banned the substance,
but the International Olympic Committee, the National Football League,
and the National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibit the use of
ephedra. Certain retailers, such as 7-Eleven, have stopped carrying
ephedra products. Some supplement manufacturers have chosen bitter
orange as a replacement. Citrus aurantium is an extract from the
bitter Seville orange. Its active ingredient, synephrine, is a close
chemical relative of ephedra that can constrict blood vessels, perhaps
dangerously. Further, there's a lack of studies showing that bitter
orange is safe or effective for weight loss.
What you can do
Consumer Reports medical experts offer
> Don't take supplements or any products
containing ephedra. Be wary of products containing bitter orange or
synephrine. Counsel your children against taking them.
> Report adverse health effects from any
dietary supplement to the Food and Drug Administration, at
800-FDA-1088 or at
> Before you take any dietary
supplement, discuss it with your physician.
This alert is featured as Free Highlight
on the Home Page at