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No.97 Feds and Ephedra

Applied Health Journal

Applied Health Journal

Topics of Health and Natural Healing
Issue 97
ISSN: 1525-6359

Too often, we Americans are guilty of subscribing to the notion that "if a little is good, a lot must be better." This is typically in error when referring to the world of health supplements. And sometimes when that popular notion conflicts with the historical knowledge and common sense about a specific ingredient, we witness the mandates set forth by the government to protect us from ourselves. I am speaking of the news today that the Feds are finally taking steps to outlaw Ephedra - a popular weight loss ingredient - and its derivatives.

Applied Health Solutions is now entering its 8th year in business, during which time we have watched the hype surrounding ephedra come and go. It has always been our policy to never use any form of ephedra in any of our products, even though we saw countless companies in our industry taking advantage of the results, throwing caution to the wind, and raking in many millions of dollars. Yes, ephedra based products offered results for many. But yes, ephedra also had potential disastrous side effects.

Ephedra, in its herbal form Ma Huang, has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. In small doses, it is very beneficial as a bronchial dilator for people with such conditions as asthma. Unfortunately, once it was determined to be of benefit for increasing the bodies resting heart rate and temperature, it became the 'darling' ingredient in weight loss applications. This quickly evolved into a case where too much of a good thing is not so good.

It is rather sad that we as consumers are sometimes incapable of self-education and self-monitoring. We are sometimes guilty of poor impulse control and desiring the 'quick-fix'. And even when product directions are spelled out with a margin of safety built in, we are often compelled to self-administer and ignore recommendations.

It is also rather sad that we as product developers and manufacturers exhibit signs of poor impulse control and poor self-regulation. We see other companies making ridiculous claims about the effects of their product, or we see a competitor generating enormous profits from a product with questionable risk factors, and too many companies first think to jump on the bandwagon and secure their piece of the pie.

Applied Health has certainly been guilty of that, as well. We go as far as at least taking notice. If we see a trend, we investigate. But we always come back to a very simple philosophy that is the basis for our policy; "First, do no harm", a basic principle of the Hippocratic Oath.

In the case of Ephedra, we chose to shy away from the concerns. We were making weight loss products already, and we have our own opinions about the difference between "fast weight loss" and "healthy weight loss". And sense we do consider ourselves to be in the "Health" business, we decided the latter was more appropriate for us. And indeed we are now glad.

The government has now announced the ban on ephedra based products. Companies that have been making the products will be forced to recall stock from the shelves and quit selling it. Consumers are being directed to stop taking any product they may already have. What a shame that it had to come this far. It is unfortunate that we as an industry were unable to police ourselves over this matter.

Certainly the world is full of products that are far more dangerous and deadly that will never receive the focus and scrutiny of ephedra, and will continue to do harm. But perhaps over time, these will be addressed, as well. In the mean time, you as a consumer can do your part. Remind yourself to do your homework. Read not only the product instructions carefully, but also any accompanying literature. And please follow directions. When we as the manufacturer develop a label for the product, we actually put considerable thought behind the "Suggested Use" statements. And any responsible manufacturer out there will not recommend a dosage that is harmful.

The operative word in the last sentence is "responsible". Sadly, our industry is full of examples of companies that are not so responsible. But that is a topic I am best to reserve for a whole different discussion.

Until then, stay well.

PS: There is really nothing that replaces good nutrition, exercise and a well-balanced diet when it comes to healthy weight loss.  Three of our products are often used as a "system" during a health weight loss routine.  For more information on healthy alternatives, visit these pages:

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