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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  17:00:31  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
This just in:

Judge Overturns Ban on Ephedra

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  17:30:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

This just in:

Judge Overturns Ban on Ephedra


This is something that I don't know a whole lot about, although I remember the death of the ball player.

Is Ephedra really dangerous, or was the ban inspired by hysteria, as so many are?

And more to the point, does does it work to some degree, or is it just another means of relieving the obese of the weight of their money?






"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  18:18:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

quote:
Originally posted by Kil

This just in:

Judge Overturns Ban on Ephedra


This is something that I don't know a whole lot about, although I remember the death of the ball player.

Is Ephedra really dangerous, or was the ban inspired by hysteria, as so many are?

And more to the point, does does it work to some degree, or is it just another means of relieving the obese of the weight of their money?





Ephedra works. It is the base for meth amphetamine. It's speed. We all know that speed will work as an appetite suppressant. The problem is that as a food supplement, this very real drug was being self- prescribed. Actually, the ban was not complete. Smaller amounts of ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine can be found in many over the counter decongestants.

Here is the problem as I see it. With use in the amounts needed to act as an appetite suppressant, and unregulated, it becomes dangerous. Since ephedra is listed as a food supplement, anyone can buy it. That includes children. No need for a doctor to know or prescribe this drug. If a person happens to have a pre-existing condition that a speed type drug might not go well with, illness or death may be the result. (It has.) Also, since ephedra is sold as ma huang, ephedra, ephedrine, and pseudo-ephedrine there is a substantial increase in the possibility of an overdose. For example, a person might take Clariton D for allergies, Ma Huang as an energy boost and Metabolite (with ephendra) for appetite control without knowing they have just taken three doses of the same drug.

The problem with ephedra, as with some other “food supplements” is that a very real danger exists that would not be tolerated with proper control. Just because it is “natural” does not make it any less of a drug. It should not be listed as a food supplement.

More on this From Quackwatch, and the FDA.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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GeeMack
SFN Regular

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  18:57:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GeeMack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

Is Ephedra really dangerous, or was the ban inspired by hysteria, as so many are?

Considering the numbers it looks a lot like hysteria. At least it seems so if we set our priorities for social control according to the relative risks of the dangers to which we choose to expose ourselves.

quote:
From the linked article

Supplements that included ephedra were once widely used for weight loss and bodybuilding, with industry groups claiming at least 12 million users. The amphetamine-like stimulant, which speeds the heart rate and constricts blood vessels, has been linked to 155 deaths. The federal government banned it one year ago.

And to put it in some kind of perspective, a study by Harvard University, based on mathematical models, estimates that 2,600 auto crash deaths a year are attributable to the use of cell phones while driving. So next time you go to the grocery store take a look at how many people you see willingly risking their lives and, maybe more importantly, the lives of other people by talking on the phone while they're driving. (I don't intend to turn this into a cell phone thread, so please don't go there. I simply used this as one example of something that causes a radically higher amount of damage.)
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  19:19:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Yes, but that perspective is misguided. The FDA doesn't have jurisdiction over automotive cell-phone use (no part of the Federal Government has that juridiction, as far as I can tell). Comparing "relative risks" is only appropriate as far as what the FDA has control over. Driving itself (with or without a cell phone) causes more deaths than ephedra, but it's apples-and-oranges since the FDA can't ban cars.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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GeeMack
SFN Regular

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  20:20:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GeeMack a Private Message
You are correct, Dave W. And don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing your point, but perhaps I can clarify mine. My comment was from the broad position that I believe we have a generally distorted priority system. The phrase "social control" is used here as a sort of umbrella term for all our regulations and enforcement mechanisms.

... if we set our priorities for social control according to the relative risks of the dangers to which we choose to expose ourselves.

But clearly we don't.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  20:23:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by GeeMack

quote:
Originally posted by filthy

Is Ephedra really dangerous, or was the ban inspired by hysteria, as so many are?

Considering the numbers it looks a lot like hysteria. At least it seems so if we set our priorities for social control according to the relative risks of the dangers to which we choose to expose ourselves.

quote:
From the linked article

Supplements that included ephedra were once widely used for weight loss and bodybuilding, with industry groups claiming at least 12 million users. The amphetamine-like stimulant, which speeds the heart rate and constricts blood vessels, has been linked to 155 deaths. The federal government banned it one year ago.

And to put it in some kind of perspective, a study by Harvard University, based on mathematical models, estimates that 2,600 auto crash deaths a year are attributable to the use of cell phones while driving. So next time you go to the grocery store take a look at how many people you see willingly risking their lives and, maybe more importantly, the lives of other people by talking on the phone while they're driving. (I don't intend to turn this into a cell phone thread, so please don't go there. I simply used this as one example of something that causes a radically higher amount of damage.)




Ok, so lets look at this. First off, it was the “industry groups” making the 12 million user claim. Also, that would be 155 deaths directly linked to ephedrine use. The actual count is unknown. And this does not take into account illness caused by ephedra at all, which would surely come in at a much higher rate.

We also have to ask, is ephedra a drug or a food? Pseudo-ephidrine is listed as a drug by the FDA. It has precisely the same molecular structure as ma huang or ephedrine.

Again, ephedra is the base for methamphetamine. Just how easy should we make the raw materials available to meth labs?

Do you want your kid to be taking power-up pills before his workout? Under the DSHEA he can, without even asking you. If one baby chokes on a part that came off a toy for babies, there is usually an immediate recall of the product. Most of the ephedra deaths occurred in people under 30. Go figure. (Perhaps their age was the reason for an autopsy that lead the discovery of ephedra as, at the very least, a contributing factor. How many older people with pre-existing conditions who died after taking ephedra were not autopsied because the reason for death was simply assumed?)

There are many problems associated with ephedra that need to be looked at. There was much concern about its use as a diet aid and energizer before the deaths were finally noticed. Pulling it was not an act of hysteria. This ruling is outrageous.

And yes, laws should be passed that restrict cell phone use while driving. It is an unreasonable risk.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  20:45:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
The overturning of the ban was on technical issues, not safety.

Ephedra is not a successful weight loss drug.

GeeMack is exactly right, banning substances aren't based on actual risk, bans are based on risk plus social acceptability. It's OK to OD on caffeine and I'm sure there have been deaths from cardiac conditions plus caffeine. It's not OK to take Ephedra because it's a drug So let's not even mention the ETOH word here.

Personally, I'd ban it because it's uses are pretty minimal and the potential for dumb kids to take it is too high. Perhaps if it were only sold to adults I'd be inclined to say, chose your poison, you're an adult.
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  20:59:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal
Ephedra is not a successful weight loss drug.

Ephedrine acts as a diurectic as far as I know. This would make you "falsely" loose weight from it, but once you re-establish fluid equilibrium in your body, your weight will return.

I've heard/read somewhere that caffeine is supposed to help the body burn fat, and this could possible also be an effect of ephedrine. I'm grateful for input on this.

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  21:22:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
beskeptigal: The overturning of the ban was on technical issues, not safety.

Yes, is it a drug or a food? What do you think?
quote:
beskeptigal:
Ephedra is not a successful weight loss drug.

And now, the food supplement industry will be selling ephedrine as a weight loss drug in a matter of weeks…
quote:
beskeptigal:
GeeMack is exactly right, banning substances aren't based on actual risk, bans are based on risk plus social acceptability. It's OK to OD on caffeine and I'm sure there have been deaths from cardiac conditions plus caffeine. It's not OK to take Ephedra because it's a drug So let's not even mention the ETOH word here.

Oh please. Caffeine toxicity leading to death is extremely rare. And when it does occur, the caffeine is often found with other stimulants in the system like, oh I dunno, guess what?
quote:
beskeptigal:
Personally, I'd ban it because it's uses are pretty minimal and the potential for dumb kids to take it is too high. Perhaps if it were only sold to adults I'd be inclined to say, chose your poison, you're an adult.

So why not legalize all pharmaceuticals? Why have doctors and the FDA controlling the use of Xanax or Vicodine? We are all adults…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2005 :  23:28:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Thanks y'all. Most enlightening.

As soon as I see anything concerning commercial, weight-reducing, diet supplements, my suspicion gene wakes up. I could stand to shed a little poundage, but want nothing to do with speed, even in a mild and legal form -- except coffee. Gots to have my coffee.

So then, what we have here is not only a potentually dangerous substance (and one of the basics for profitable, outlaw chemistry), but an easy sell as well. Not good, at least as over-the-counter, I think.

And it all comes right back down to dat ol' debbil: critical thinking. If people would actually look at what they are taking, a lot fewer of these things would be taken.

Heh, that might result in fewer ads and less general bullshit clogging up the various media.

And as for cell phone-addicted drivers, they should all have their phones stapeled to their ass'. That way, they can talk with their heads in their normal position.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  05:50:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
I'm furious about this.

Ephedra is speed, folks. Not a "weight loss drug" or "dietary supplement." It's SPEED.

It seems there's a segment of society that downplays, disregards, or ignores very real risks to their health. It's these people (often young people, in my experience, and often young men) that the government should protect.

I'm often startled by how little American people, by and large, know about medicine, health, fitness, etc. I was discussing this ephedra issue with a friend yesterday, and he had no idea ephedra raised blood pressure. He said, "Hey, I failed 10th grade health class!" I don't think his level of knowledge is unusual.

Ironic that Vioxx and other drugs which have real and important medical benefits are being taken off the market, but herbal speed is A-OK.

The ringmaster is away and the clowns are running the cirucs.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  06:28:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

It's not OK to take Ephedra because it's a drug
Where did you get that idea? It was being sold freely under the DSHEA, and was banned under DSHEA guidelines (which the judge says the FDA didn't follow properly). So it's not a drug, it's a dietary supplement. Like, say, vitamin C. There is no legal or regulatory distinction between ephedra and vitamin C.

Of course, I know that ephedra has pharmaceutical effects, and in that regard it is a drug, and should be regulated as a drug, also (is No-Doze regulated by the FDA?), but the DSHEA makes the distinction between drugs and supplements, and we can't forget that. And certainly Nutraceutical caters to a clientele which is likely to avoid taking "drugs," but will gobble down "natural supplements" until the cows come home.

The problem in this case and others is the DSHEA itself, regardless of "social acceptability" and "relative risk." How many people did Vioxx kill before it got yanked?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  08:55:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

It's not OK to take Ephedra because it's a drug
Where did you get that idea? It was being sold freely under the DSHEA, and was banned under DSHEA guidelines (which the judge says the FDA didn't follow properly). So it's not a drug, it's a dietary supplement. Like, say, vitamin C. There is no legal or regulatory distinction between ephedra and vitamin C.

Of course, I know that ephedra has pharmaceutical effects, and in that regard it is a drug, and should be regulated as a drug, also (is No-Doze regulated by the FDA?), but the DSHEA makes the distinction between drugs and supplements, and we can't forget that. And certainly Nutraceutical caters to a clientele which is likely to avoid taking "drugs," but will gobble down "natural supplements" until the cows come home.

The problem in this case and others is the DSHEA itself, regardless of "social acceptability" and "relative risk." How many people did Vioxx kill before it got yanked?



Some very good points, Dave. Of course DSHEA is the problem. Sigh…
I wish we could get rid of that stupid act. Or, at least shift the burden of proof that now falls on the FDA to prove, after market, that a drug (call it what you will) is safe and effective, to the food supplement industry before market by way of research and independent testing subject to peer review. Ha! Like that's gonna happen. The food supplement industry is a billion dollar operation that obviously has a lot of political clout.

It seems to me that the court made a bad call even in light of the DSHEA. Since pseudo-ephedrine has been listed as a drug since 1938, I just don't see how the court could distinguish between drugs that are identical in every way except for how they are marketed. That one source is “natural” and the other “synthetic” seems incidental to me, based on the drugs identical molecular structure.

And you are absolutely correct. People will gobble up “natural” stuff just because they equate “natural” with safe.

Sigh…




Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  09:18:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

And it all comes right back down to dat ol' debbil: critical thinking. If people would actually look at what they are taking, a lot fewer of these things would be taken.

Yeah. But critical thinkin' isn't a common trait, it seems.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  10:11:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

And you are absolutely correct. People will gobble up “natural” stuff just because they equate “natural” with safe.
Well, thanks to filthy's presence here on the SFN, I know just where to go for all my dangerous-but-all-natural venomous snake needs, just in case a demonstration of "natural does not equal safe" is necessary.

One would think that these "natural" proponents have never come into contact with poison ivy, or ever heard of Socrates.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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