Definition of Ephedra
Ephedra, which contains ephedrine, is a stimulant which helps with asthmatic breathing and is used in products such as Ephedrine. Ephedra in its "natural" form is usually marketed as an ingredient in dietary supplements and is regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Ephedra has been linked to dangerous side-effects including high blood pressure, nerve damage, tremors, seizures, psychiatric symptoms, heart attack, stroke and even death. Other side-effects include irregular heart rhythms, paranoid psychosis, depression and coma.
The FDA determined that ephedra posed an unreasonable risk to those who used it and banned the use of ephedra-containing products on April 12, 2004. The FDA determined that the benefits of the drug did not over compensate for the cardiovascular risks. They did not ban drug products containing the synthetic form of ephedrine.
Manufacturers and sellers of ephredra-containing supplements have fought personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits from previous ephedra users. For example, in 2003, a California judge ordered an ephedra manufacturer to pay $12.5 million to consumers who took the company's ephedra-containing weight-loss supplement.