FDA Issues Warning on Herbal "Speed" Pill

March 10, 2000

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The FDA has issued new warning about the herbal 'speed' pill, ephedra. Sold over-the-counter, often in truckstops, as an energy pill, diet aid, and even as an herbal alternative to the street drug, Ecstasy, ephedra is "as easy to buy as aspirin, and looks safer, because no warning labels are required."

But the FDA has collected more than 800 reports of users suffering adverse reactions, ranging from dizziness and dementia to strokes, heart attacks and sudden death, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
"We tell people you may use (these products) and be fine. You may lose a little weight and feel great," Dr. Christine Haller, a San Francisco toxicologist and investigator for the California Poison Control Center, told the Times. "You may also suffer a catastrophic stroke, be unable to walk, talk or live a normal life again, or you may die suddenly. Are you willing to take the risk?"
Hundreds of dietary supplement products are said to contain ephedra, which is extracted from a Chinese plant, ma huang, and are marketed as energy boosters for athletes, weight loss aids, muscle builders, or stimulants for those who need to stay awake.

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