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Ephedra, from the plant Ephedra sinica,[1] has been used as an herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years for the treatment of asthma and hay fever, as well as for the common cold.[2] Known in Chinese as ma huang (traditional Chinese: 麻黃; simplified Chinese: 麻黄; pinyin: má huáng), ephedra is a stimulant which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Several additional species belonging to the genus Ephedra have traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and are a possible candidate for the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion.[3] Native Americans and Mormon pioneers drank a tea brewed from an Ephedra, called Mormon Tea, but North American ephedras lack the alkaloids found in species such as E. sinica.[4] Ephedra-containing dietary supplements have been linked to a high rate of serious side effects and a number of deaths, leading to concern from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the medical community.[5][6][7][8][9] However, initial efforts to test and regulate ephedra were defeated by lobbying and political pressure from the dietary-supplement industry.[10][11] Ultimately, in response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to ephedra, the FDA banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements on April 12, 2004.[12][13] Following a legal challenge by an ephedra manufacturer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the FDA's ban of ephedra in 2006.[14] The sale of ephedra-containing dietary supplements remains illegal in the United States due to evidence of adverse ephedra-related effects. Following the FDA's ban, the supplement industry has marketed "ephedrine-free" or "legal" ephedra products, in which the ephedra is replaced with other herbal stimulants such as bitter orange.[15]

1.5.09 08:22


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