For over 4000 years ephedra (Ma huang) has been used in Chinese medicine to treat several disorders. Ephedra comes from a plant that has a few powerful active compounds, of which ephedrine is the most useful. Research has shown that ephedra increases metabolism and helps promote weight loss, relaxes the air passages in the lungs to help treat asthma and cough, promotes perspiration to help a person recover from a minor cold and helps promote urination to help relieve edema. Ephedra has been widely researched for its thermogenic (fat burning) properties. Research has show that ephedra helps promote the loss of fat while helping spare lean muscle tissue, a highly sought-after property that prescription diet medications still have not been able to reproduce.
Because of its stimulating effect on the nervous system, ephedra can be found in some popular weight loss and energy products. For dieters it suppresses the appetite and stimulates the thyroid gland, which stimulates metabolism. Recently ma huang has been 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. People also indicate 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 that 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 seem to eat less and have more energy and thus are more active. Whether one also needs to consciously lower their caloric intake and/or exercise depends on a variety of circumstances, which is best discussed with your health care professional. Ephedra had been banned for the last year because of possible health risks. Thursday, April 14 2005 (Health Day News) -- Saying that 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 has lifted the year-old FDA ban and sent the matter back to the agency for further evaluation.
From the Ephedra Educational Council web site "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."
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