Ephedra: Chinese Medicine or International Killer?

  • What is Ephedra Ephedra (Chinese: ma huang) is an alkaloid chemical compound traditionally obtained from the plant Ephedra sinica, an Asian evergreen shrub. Its principal derivative, ephedrine, has many of the characteristics of an amphetamine and has been used as a decongestant and for temporary relief of shortness of breath caused by asthma, nasal decongestant, and minor eye irritation. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used for asthma, hay fever, and even the common cold.
    Ephedra in its “natural” form is often sold as a major ingredient in dietary supplements. People have taken such dietary supplements containing ephedra in the hopes that it will boost energy, help them lose weight, or enhance their athletic performance.
  • What are the dangers of Ephedra? In April of 2004, Ephedra was banned by the FDA because it was found unsafe to use. The amphetamine-like stimulant, which speeds the heart rate and constricts blood vessels, has been found to produce the following adverse reactions in its users: strokes, heart attacks, vomiting, psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and change in mood, autonomic hyperactivity, palpitations, paranoid psychosis, depression, convulsions, coma, fever, vomiting, hypertension, seizures, respiratory depression and death. It has also been found to increase the risk of nausea 2-3 times more than a placebo.
  • Legal Issues Ephedra has now been linked to hundreds of deaths, including that of Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler. Many others suffer permanent injuries and require ongoing medical treatment.The liability resulting from lawsuits brought by the families of the men and women who have suffered deadly side effects from this terrible drug against companies like Metabolife who make products containing Ephedra has reached the tens of millions of dollars and is climbing fast.

  • Your Rights If you believe you’ve suffered cardiovascular problems or other harmful side effects due to Ephedra, you may be entitled to damages. To determine your rights, you should contact a personal injury attorney specializing in Ephedra related cases. You can search the LawGuru Attorney Directoryfor a personal injury lawyer in your area. Or, if you have additional questions about Ephedra and your situation, you can ask a free question of the LawGuru Attorney Network in our Knowledge Base.
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