Ephedra: Weight Loss Wonder or Health Danger!
by Michael LaQuay

For over 4000 years Ephedra (Ma huang) has been used in Chinese medicine to treat several disorders.

Ephedra has been widely researched for its thermogenic "fat-burning" properties. Research has shown that ephedra helps promote the loss of fat, while helping to preserve lean muscle tissue, which is a highly sought-after property, that prescription diet medications still have not been able to replicate.

Because of its stimulating effect on the nervous system, ephedra has been used in many popular weight loss and energy products. For dieters, this means ephedra can suppress your appetite, stimulate the thyroid gland and increase your body's fat-burning metabolism for increased weight loss.

Recently ma huang (ephedra) was the subject of scientific research for obesity, because of its thermogenic fat-burning effect on dietary intake. Ma huang is also found in "energy" products that may give athletes extra energy without draining their reserves.

Ephedra comes from a plant that has a few powerful active compounds, of which ephedrine is the most useful.

Research has shown that Ephedra:

  1. Increases metabolism and helps promote weight loss.
  2. Relaxes the air passages in the lungs to help treat asthma and cough.
  3. Promotes perspiration to help a person recover from a minor cold.
  4. Helps promote urination to help relieve edema.

People also have indicated an increase in alertness and perception... Similar to the diet formulas, it is often combined with ingredients such as kola nut or guarana, which contain caffeine. Everyone agrees, the way we lose weight, is to burn more calories than we consume.

Ephedra helps in that process by producing a thermogenic effect, which causes one to burn more calories.

Further, it appears that by taking Ephedra, people eat less, have more energy and are more active. Whether one also needs to consciously lower their caloric intake and/or exercise depends on a variety of circumstances, which are best discussed with your personal health care professional.

Ephedra was temporarily taken off the market a few years ago because of unsubstantiated health risks...

As reported in Health Day News, Thursday, April 14 2005 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not met the burden of proof that any specific dosage of the controversial weight-loss drug ephedra was dangerous. A U.S. District Court judge in Salt Lake City, lifted the year-old FDA ban and sent the matter back to the agency for further evaluation.

"More than 15 million consumers a year benefit from Ephedra, with only a minute fraction reporting problems to the FDA. Any risk of inappropriate use must be balanced against the health benefits accruing to millions of Americans... The nation's obesity epidemic creates a personal and public imperative for weight control, and 98 million Americans must not be denied an option for improving their health without conclusive scientific evidence."— from www.ephedra.com