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JOURNAL: Ann Intern Med 2003;138.
AUTHORS: Dr. Bent
ABSTRACT: Compared with other herbal products, ephedra is far more likely to cause adverse effects.
COMMENTARY: Based on an analysis of reports to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, Dr. Stephen Bent and his colleagues discovered that products with ephedra accounted for 64% of the herb-related adverse reactions in 2001.
This finding is remarkable, the authors note, given that less than 1% of herbal products sold that year contained ephedra.
Although awareness of the potential dangers of ephedra is growing among consumers, many still purchase ephedra-containing products.
Using data from case reports alone, it has been difficult to definitively link ephedra with various adverse effects, Dr. Bent said. But the finding that ephedra is linked to far more side effects than other herbs adds support to the theory that the substance can be dangerous, he said.
How ephedra stacked up against other products varied from herb to herb, Dr. Bent and his colleagues note -- but in all cases, it outnumbered other products in adverse reactions.
Overall, there were 1178 adverse reactions reported for ephedra, compared with 28 for ginkgo biloba, 31 for St. John's wort and 69 for Echinacea, among others.
My Comment is that Ephedra has always been the whipping boy of the herbal industry. Used properly I have never had a problem with it. It is the abuse of it that causes the issue.
Like everything else I don't see alcohol or tobacco being banned and these two items cause far greater adverse outcomes.