Ephedra was once a popular weight loss aid because when people took it, it suppressed their appetite and gave them energy. Some people did lose weight, but others suffered serious health problems, including death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned herbal products containing ephedra because ephedra is just too dangerous, and, as of 2010, these products are still banned.
Dangers of Ephedra-Free Products
Products marketed as ephedra-free weight loss dietary supplements are on the market. Some of these supplements have the same health issues associated with ephedra, such as headaches, anxiety, risk of heart attack, risk of stroke or a weakened heart. If ephedra-free weight loss supplements have caffeine and other stimulants in the formulation, they stimulate your cardiovascular system, similar to ephedra, concludes the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Dr. G. Michael Steelman, an obesity specialist in Oklahoma City, says in “Redbook Magazine” that dietary supplement companies don’t have to show clinical data on safety or if they work. Products that claim to be made with herbs and that are all-natural may still be harmful. Bitter orange, for example, replaced ephedra in many weight loss supplements, but it causes an increased heart rate and an increase in blood pressure, says Steelman. Hoodia may help you to lose weight, but many products that say they contain hoodia don’t contain much of it. Hoodia is a protected plant, so some companies may replace hoodia with something else. Two supplements that appear to be safe and have weight loss potential, according to Dr. George Blackburn of Harvard Medical School, are green tea extract and conjugated linoleic acid.
May Not be Necessary
Not everyone needs to take or should take weight loss products. Use of prescription weight loss drugs may be appropriate for people with a body mass index of 30 or more with no obesity-related health conditions or for a person with a BMI of 27 or more with obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, according to WebMD.
Do Your Homework
Before you buy an over-the-counter ephedra-free weight loss product, keep in mind that, at one time people, thought that ephedra was safe, only to find out later that it wasn’t. If you want to try something new, read the label to see what ingredients the product contains, suggests MayoClinic.com. Besides ephedra being likely unsafe and banned by the FDA, country mallow is, too.
Rather than taking ephedra, other options are appetite suppressants and fat absorption inhibitors. Appetite suppressants trick your body into believing it is full. Fat absorption inhibitors prevent your body from absorbing fat that you might eat with your meals. Before you choose a weight loss product, you should discuss the matter with your doctor. Appetite suppressants and fat absorption inhibitors lead to an average weight loss of 5 to 22 lbs. in one year, which is more than the average weight loss without using a weight loss product, according to WebMD. But, everyone responds differently to weight loss drugs, so it is wise to have your doctor evaluate you before you start treatment.