Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Restriction Or Ban Of Ephedra Supported By First Comparative Herbal Study

Date:
February 4, 2003
Source:
University Of California - San Francisco
Summary:
The first comparative study to examine the risk of taking ephedra with that of taking other commonly used herbs calls into question the herbal stimulant's current standing as an unrestricted dietary supplement.

The first comparative study to examine the risk of taking ephedra with that of taking other commonly used herbs calls into question the herbal stimulant's current standing as an unrestricted dietary supplement.

Related Articles


Researchers found that products containing ephedra accounted for less than 1 percent of the herbal supplement sales in the United States in 2001. These products, however, were responsible for 62 percent of all herbal-related reports made to poison control centers nationwide that year, according to the study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

"The argument has always been that ephedra is safe because it is natural and has been used for thousands of years. Our study shows that ephedra is hundreds of times riskier than other commonly used herbs," said the study's lead author, Stephen Bent, MD, staff physician at SFVAMC and an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF.

The study will appear in the March 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and becomes available online February 3. The findings prompted its authors to call for more stringent regulation or banning of the substance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Products containing ephedra, also known as ma-huang, often claim to promote weight-loss and boost energy. However, the herb and its extract are known to cause certain side-effects including anxiety, insomnia, increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and have been associated with many more serious reactions, including heart attacks and strokes that can lead to death.

In the current study, researchers used data gathered by the American Association of Poison Control Centers and published in its "Toxic Event Surveillance System Database Annual Report 2001." An estimated 80 percent of the calls received by poison control centers come from the general public, as opposed to health care providers.

The researchers used the call data in conducting a statistical analysis commonly employed to monitor the relative safety of prescription drugs. "We looked at the number of adverse events among ephedra users versus the number of adverse events among users of other herbs," said Bent, also a researcher with UCSF's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

Taking into account the volume of sales for each product, the researchers calculated that the use of ephedra poses a risk 200 times greater than the risks posed by all other herbal supplements combined. Individual comparisons ranged from a relative risk compared to kava of 100 times greater to 720 times greater when compared to Ginkgo biloba.

"The markedly elevated relative risks observed with ephedra-containing products were stable over a wide range of estimates of ephedra sales," Bent said.

The study's senior author, Michael Shlipak, MD, MPH, said ephedra has stimulant properties that have been well described. "Our study shows that ephedra is unsafe for routine and unsupervised use," said Shlipak, a SFVAMC researcher and an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF.

Shlipak said: "The regulation of ephedra is an important issue that currently has the attention of the US Congress and the Bush administration, and we hope that our study will inform that decision."

Additional authors on the study include Thomas N. Tiedt, PhD of the Med-Tox Group of Longboat Key, Florida and Michelle Odden, BS of the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

Bent's research is supported by a career development award from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Shlipak's research is supported by a career development award from the Health Services Research and Development division of the Veterans Affairs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - San Francisco. "Restriction Or Ban Of Ephedra Supported By First Comparative Herbal Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030204074629.htm>.
University Of California - San Francisco. (2003, February 4). Restriction Or Ban Of Ephedra Supported By First Comparative Herbal Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030204074629.htm
University Of California - San Francisco. "Restriction Or Ban Of Ephedra Supported By First Comparative Herbal Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030204074629.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins