Who could refuse the temptation of getting slimmer body? Even though the purpose is great, not all diet products are safe to consume. Unfortunately, many costumers are happily take the products with “new ingredients”, most often without considering the long term effect. This case is currently happening to those who take a product with Ephedera in it.
What Is Ephedera?
There is no such thing as taking the diet pills blindly. As the components will be absorbed by the system, it is important for the costumers to learn thoroughly about the active ingredients. The biological label for this plant is Ephedra Sinica. It is widely spread in tropical countries, and in each one, the beneficial plant has a new nickname. Some of the famous ones are ma huang, chinese ephedera, epitonin, and Sida cordifolia.
Back in 1980s, Ephedera is recorded as one of the famous Chinese herbs, formulated for weight loss and enhancing athletes performance. In addition, the apothecary often mix it in the medications for asthma, allergy, cold and flu symptoms. The popularity of this special herb is even found in India, even for longer period than China. Since these two countries are still well known for their traditional medicine, there must be something extraordinary about ephedera.
The ace of the card from ma huang is the high potent alkaloids in it. Not only one, but four strong alkaloids are found in ephedera extract. They are ephederine, pseuophederine, norephederine and methylphederine. Among these powerful components, the one that could help to burn fat is ephederine.
How Does Ephedera Help To Lose Weight?
If there is one word that could describe Ephedera, it would be “magic”. The statisfied costumers mention that they lose weight faster than predicted. For a product without appetite suppressant, the fact is quite interesting. If appetite suppressant is included, it helps the person to cut the eating impulse and avoiding snack and late night meal. Some even claim that the relatively new item works better than the other brands.
In addition to the suppressant absence, there are two main and active ingredients of the product. They are ephederine and pseudoephederine. Both are strong alkaloids and have the power to control weight and body metabolism. After consuming the diet pills, there will be increasing metabolism, which means more fat layers to burn. Another impact of high metabolism rate is energetic mood, since the users will have lots of them to spend.
Since the users’ energy will be boosted, increasing heart rate could be expected on those who refuse to move or not having not enough daily activities. Next, the thermogenic combo will also stimulate brains. They constrict the need to eat and have snacks when there is nothing else to do. One more thing that makes people fall in love to this diet pill is the non-existence of coffee. Thus, it would not have stomach upset complaints.
Is Diet Pills With Ephedera Okay?
After learning about the component, it is time to discuss the second concern: is it approved or legal? No matter how magical a diet pill claims itself to be, medical acknowledgment is required to ensure the costumer. It is true that organic and natural ingredients could make the best medication, but there is one fatal point in the system. The herbs are rarely measured to detail, so the apothecary is the one to decide.
In the United States, the government made an independent body to decide whether the drug has safe amount of ingredients. This body is called Food And Drug Administration (FDA). There are thousand medication go through the scanning and medical laboratory tests before packed and widely sold in the market. Even though FDA covers almost all kinds of drugs, supplements like diet pills is not included in the list.
The reason is simple: supplements are not meant to cure, but to improve health conditions and prevent virus and bacteria to attack the consumers. That is why, it is quite surprising to read about the banning put by FDA to ephederine alkaloids back in 2004. In this case, there must be fatal cases reported by the concerned users.
Through online, offline, or call complaints, there are numerous experiences shared by the affected costumers. They describe a lot of side effects and uncomfortable conditions, which generally could be classified into three big groups: increasing heart beat and blood pressure, digestive symptoms and emotional change.
- Elevating Heart Rate And Blood Pressure
It has been discussed before that while ephederin does its job as stimulant, heart will suffer. The vital organ will beat more often than its usual pace. The worst scenario could lead to heart attack. It could be even worse if the patients do have problem with high blood pressure and clogged arteries. For these patients, the risk of getting sudden heart attack is raising.
To worsen the problem, those who have the mentioned problem are the overweight patients, who consume the diet pills to lose some weight. Since not many people know the meaning of stimulant and how it works, there are some daily habit that might have lethal consequence, for instance, the routine of drinking coffee and energy beverages. Both products also force heart to work faster. Aside from the rapid heartbeat, the patients might also get tight chest.
- Digestive Symptoms
Those who pick ephedera diet pill might be happy at first, knowing that there is no appetite suppressant in the ingredients box. After several days, one or more of the following digestion problems are often found: abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. Although the last effect is considered as the advantage of consuming diet pills, less calories intake might trigger unbearable hunger and increasing risk of gallstone.
For the minor digestive side effects like vomiting and nausea, they could be life threatening when happens in days or even weeks. For instance, the patients might be in hydration problem. If the patients also vomits, then many body fluids are out from the system, practically nudge the closest domino effect: electrolyte imbalances. Either one is enough to start muscle contraction.
- Emotional Change
Even though this side effect might not be experienced directly by the patients, but most users claim to experience either mild to severe emotional effect. The lightest signs include increasing anxiety, mood swing, stress and irritability. Several more serious cases call for drug addiction and psychosis. The second one refer to the inability to separate dreams and reality.
Particularly in women, the delusional case often misdiagnosed as schizoprenia. Both illnesses share similar symptoms, but not all doctors could wisely explain that the main problem comes from diet pills consumption. So, the patients with initial bad record of depression, eating disorder, and anxiety disorder should stay away from the diet pills with ephedrin. As for the dependency, the patients might get mood swing the moment ephedrin is not consumed.
Some costumers who consume diet pills with ephedera have life threatening side effects such as stroke and sudden heart attack. Sadly, some cases end with the patients’ death. In 2006, FDA released an official statement, mentioning that “dietary supplement containing ephederine alkaloids to be adulterated”. Moreover, FDA also specifically underlines “the ephederine derived from Ephedera genus or the other botanical plants”.
Could Ephedera Still Work Well Without Ephederine Component?
Even after the banning is still around, many manufacturers still get to market their Ephedera diet pills. How could this be? Referring to the sentences, FDA doesn’t actually forbid the plant, but only the alkaloids component, particularly the ephedreine. Thus, as long as the ma huang extract doesn’t contain the prohibited alkaloids, it is still okay to sell it to the costumers.
Although alkaloids are said to be the main factor in weight loss process, ephedera plant still have more than just these compounds. In the extracted form, ma huang contains plenty of beneficial components, even after the main alkaloids have been removed. One more important information: ephederin and the other compound share similar last name is only 0.5 percent of the total 2.5%.
Several component in ma huang plant has great effects for the body, particularly for weight loss purpose. In short, the strength of these ingredients is described as “stronger than green tea extract”. Well, it might not be the best description for selling the product in the market, but this sentence gives clearer picture of the diet pills power. For instance, how the non-ephederin ingredients works to help losing weight.
When the dangerous ephederin gang is taken out from the component list, epicathecin fills in the empty spot of main ingredients. Back in the 90s and 2000s, this substance is famous for its potential health benefits. Even until now, many extensive researches is conducted to find more advantages. This useful component is usually found in dark chocolate. It is the main reason why dark chocolate is beneficial for human health.
How could it help? Only with 50mg of epicathecin, the patients with overweight, cholesterol and bad blood sugar management could be helped. In order to get this amount of epicathecin, the patients need to consume 45gr of dark chocolate every day. Pay attention that the content of dark chocolate should be 70% of the total component. This adds 200 calories per day to the body. Taking the extracted form surely provides a lot ease for the patients.
- Flavonoid Glycosides
The next beneficial component is not a single item, but a chemical chain. The glycoside’s job is to bind sugar to the other chain with the help of glycosidic acid. When the glycoside is paired with plant metabolites or flavonoids, then the chain will be named as flavonoid glycosides. It will then boost the absorption and uptake process inside human body. Therefore, this chain is often found in many medicine and drugs.
While studying about ephedera plant extract, it is found that ma huang also contains flavonoid glycosides. The bad news is the experts could not list all the types yet. Two of the identified chemical chain are herbacetin and quercetin. The last one is mostly found in fat burners supplements.
This is a chemical compound made from the simplest and basic unit of carbohydrate, the monosaccharides. Inside human body, this chain works as protector or stabilizer barrier for a lot of biological procedure. In particular, it enables the interaction between cells as well as the contact between carbohydrates. The lab test of ephedera extract found glycans chain, named as ephdrans.
There are five different of ephdran detected. Each of them is labeled with A, B, C, D and E alphabet. Further experiments conducted on mice show that all these five ephdran have long lasting hypoglycemnic effect. In the other words, the chains could manage the blood sugar level, one of the major issues many overweight patients hope to deal with.
- Gallic and Epigallic Acid
If the patients are familiar with the word “tannin”, then they might be wine connoisseurs. Basically, tannin is the agent that gives dry taste to the wine. From scientific point of view, its function is to bind to protein and the other amino acid chain. While conducting the study on the effects of epicatechin and catechin, the researchers also learn that there is a chain created by tannin binding, called gallic acid and epigallic acid.
How these two components help to lose weight? In 2015 study, it is found that gallic acid could regulate body weight by activating protein kinase (AMPK). While tested to mice, the study group did not gain weight despite of the additional meal portion.
Moreover, its glucose and insulin homeostasis is improved. From the other research, gallic acid is mentioned as the enzyme inhibitors. It tends to block the enzyme that will digest the drugs. As the result, the medication could stay a little bit longer in the body system.
It would probably take years before the dietary pills business meet their dead end. As long as people have the desire to look good, the business will run. Therefore, the costumers should ask a simple question: is diet pills with ephedera okay? Otherwise, tons of disadvantages are waiting.