Ephedrine: Big Government’s Ban of Free Choice (part 3)
(originally published Dec. 2004 – FreeMarketNews.com)
DON’T DOCTORS HAVE PRESCRIPTIONS FOR BETTER PRODUCTS?
No, not really.
Medical science has produced nothing to compare with the effectiveness of ephedrine, even by prescription. In fact, nearly all currently available prescription weight loss products are related to appetite suppression, not the physiological aspects of weight gain such as fat storage, insulin sensitivity, or depressed metabolism. Weight gain and obesity are regarded by the medical establishment as little more than eating disorders.
Basically, the medical community is saying that if you don’t have a thyroid problem, your obesity is your own fault. “Eat less and lose weight,” they say. Of course, as an amateur bodybuilder I was also told to simply eat more to gain weight. That is indeed laughable if you know anything at all about bodybuilding or the physiology of fat and muscle. Such simplistic answers, whatever the question, usually yield equally simplistic and ineffective results. The situation with ephedrine is no different.
Again, in the interest of fairness, it should be noted that many medical organizations and drug companies are working on the “magic pill” to more safely cure obesity and spark weight loss. Some interesting work is being done in the study of agents that might cause a rise in the metabolism similar to stimulants like amphetamines and ephedrine, but without activating the cardiac muscle in the process (and therefore avoiding such potential ill effects as heart attacks and strokes). So far, no magic pill has been found and most prescription drugs considered “safe” (such as the now infamous “Fen-Phen”) have at least as many adverse side effects as ephedrine.
The absolute honest answer is that ephedra has been, for centuries, the best natural source of an active fat burning agent.
Yes, the supplement community has come up with a number of alternatives to ephedrine (including other stimulants), but ephedrine will remain, for many, the ingredient of choice when looking for serious fat burning results. It will take some time and a great deal of research and financial investment for the supplement industry to catch up to the ban. Eventually, it will.
In the meantime, the estimated 12 million former users of ephedrine supplements will either have to look elsewhere (the black market or more potent medicinal products) or settle for less stellar replacements. Given that the American population has an obesity rate of over 60% (a number which is on the rise), the ultimate effects of this ban on the health and well being of Americans may be years in the coming.
PROBLEMS WITH THE BAN
Besides the obvious violation of personal freedom of choice the ban represents, ephedrine is still widely available. But you won’t find any natural ma huang. No, you’ll only find the more potent synthetic varieties used in Primatene Tablets and cold medicines.
Studies have been done which suggest that the herbal form of ephedrine can actually work to reduce blood pressure, whereas the synthetic varieties are prone to increasing blood pressure. It also takes a far greater quantity of the herb to cause an overdose when compared to the more concentrated synthetic varieties.
Worst of all, one of the original reasons for the ban was its link to the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine and similar controlled substances, which, according to the DEA from data on seizures of “meth labs”, derived a large portion of their ephedrine from over-the-counter sources. The problems arise, however, when it is revealed that the drug dealers weren’t popping open thousands of capsules of herbal Ripped Fuel and Xenadrine, but rather were grinding up tablets of pure synthetic ephedrine – the kind no less available now than before the ban!
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
The anecdotal evidence coupled with exhaustive, unbiased scientific study clearly proves that the use of ephedrine and herbal ephedra by the general public is safe when used as directed by proper labeling that reflects guidelines already set by the FDA in past rulings. And no conclusive preponderance of evidence has been produced to suggest otherwise. Quite the contrary, both the experience of athletes and research of scientists have shown beneficial uses of the product for both weight loss and, to a lesser degree, athletic performance enhancement, beyond the effects of most any other available product, over-the-counter or by prescription.
These findings suggest that other forces are at work in government to once again infringe on our rights as free Americans to choose for ourselves what we will and will not put in our bodies. Even those individuals who may never have had cause to use ephedrine or similar products should be wary of this type of government activism. The ban on ephedrine, as is the case with so many governmental regulatory actions enacted “for our own good”, opens a slippery slope to even more intrusive legislation in the near future. As free Americans, it falls to us to keep our eyes and ears open, read the labels of all products we buy, follow our favorite consumer watchdog of choice, and generally be an educated consumer.