"Ephedrine, Is It Really A Killer?"

When it comes to sports supplements there’s only one person who we think is worth listening to – Will Brink. And with all the latest news about athlete Steve Belchers death being related to ephedrine, we are publishing here Will’s opinion and latest views on the recent media onslaught.

(Thanks to Will for allowing us to publish this article)

Extract: “…already too familiar with the link between “supplements” and the deaths of athletes, the sports world was hardly shocked by yesterday’s determination that the herbal stimulant ephedrine probably contributed to the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, a 23- year-old who died of heatstroke after a spring-training workout in Florida.

An email from Will Brink:

The anti ephedrine camp seems to be making another wave of worthless emotional based statements, which as usual, lack any real data. This tactic is of course an old one.

As the once man said:

‘All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself.’ – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kamp

Most of you may have heard of a new ‘study’ supposedly showing how dangerous ephedrine is and the death of baseball player Steve Belcher is being blamed on ephedrine.

Both are complete shams!

Ok, below is my lay commentary of this ‘study’ followed by BrinkZone members Doug Kalman MS, Jose Antonio, Ph.D., FACSM, and Richard B. Kreider, PhD, letter to the editor of the journal that published the study with a nice analysis of the data of the study.

Finally, is a link to a press released from Miami Research Associates (also written by Doug Kalmen) that looks at the death of this base ball player the media is blaming in ephedrine.

Enjoy the read

- ‘Anti Ephedrine Campaign’s latest bogus study’. By Will Brink

Well gang the anti supplement powers that be, are at it again with a new ‘study’ that supposedly shows the dangers of ephedrine.

Typical of the ‘don’t confuse us with the facts’ media, this study is being plastered all over the news and held up as a reason to pull ephedrine containing products off the market.

At this point, it appears they are so desperate to find proof that ephedrine is a health hazard, they are willing stretch the truth to absurd levels.

What am I referring to? A new study called ‘The Relative Safety of Ephedra Compared with Other Herbal Products’ published in Annals of Internal Medicine (2003;138:000-000).

This study is not bad science, it’s not science at all.

What the authors did was examine reports put into the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Event Surveillance System Database Annual Report for 2001, and make conclusions about the safety of ephedra based on those numbers.

For example, the authors state:

‘Ephedra is widely used in dietary supplements that are marketed to promote weight loss or increase energy; however, the safety of this product has been questioned because of numerous case reports of adverse events.’

Translated: they have already decided that ephedra is unsafe and are going to prove it no matter what they have to do. Hence, the authors were biased (more on that in a minute) from the start and made it their job to confirm their biased belief.

Basically what these authors did was compare the adverse reaction reports from American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Event Surveillance System vs reports on other herbs and shock of all shocks, conclude that compared to other herbs such as ginko and kava, that ephedra has more side effects.

Well Duh. They concluded that ephedra containing products accounted for 64% of all reported adverse effects from herbs compared with kava and Ginkgo biloba (see letter data showing that’s not even true).

They state:

‘This risk was defined as the ratio of adverse reactions to ephedra versus other products, divided by the ratio of their relative use in the United States.’

Translated: a fancy way of saying that they compared apples to oranges (ephedrine vs ginko or Kava) and concluded ephedrine accounted for a higher rate of reported side effects.

This is equivalent to comparing coffee (a stimulant) to fruit juice and coming to the shocking conclusion that coffee has more side effects than fruit juice!

Now, why didn’t they compare it to say other diet products, in particular diet drugs with similar mechanisms?

You would find that pharmaceutical diet drugs are involved in considerably more adverse events than ephedrine based products, and those events, on average, are of a more serious nature.

(Very Important Point….)

Let’s not forget the recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, that found an ephedrine caffeine based supplement was superior for weight loss with less side effects than the popular diet drug Xenical (Orlistat), one of the most commonly prescribed diet drugs in the United States.

Of course, in truth none of this info from this new report from the Poison Control Centers can be used to represent the true risk of any drug or nutrient as it is simply people calling into claim some product made them ill.

It does tell public health officials if some product in particular should be looked for un expected side effects, etc, but it’s of little use in making real decisions regarding the safety profile of any drug or nutrient.

That’s what true double blind placebo controlled human studies are for, of which there are MANY with ephedrine.

What about those studies with ephedrine? Every single study to date with more than a decade of research-has concluded the side effects are minor, transient, and short lived.

The authors didn’t bother to mention any of the real data that exists on ephedrine but focused on a single study that had a high drop out rate from the study.

Of course ephedra is not without risk and there are many people who should not use it, such as those with high blood pressure and other contraindications, but as weight loss compounds go, it is exceedingly safe.

Safer in fact than most over the counter medications found in stores, such as aspirin and acetaminophen.

Bottom line is, considering the billions of doses sold of ephedra containing products and the millions of people using such products, the number of adverse events reported is amazingly small.

The authors of this bogus study conclude:

‘Ephedra use is associated with a greatly increased risk for adverse reactions compared with other herbs, and its use should be restricted.’

Translated: they had an agenda to show ephedra was unsafe,and found a unscientific way of showing it vs following the real data that exists or comparing ephedra to drugs for the same purpose that are more toxic than ephedrine.

But wait, it gets better.

If you recall I mentioned the authors were clearly biased. Why? All of the authors of this so called study have worked for various lawfirms who are involved in anti-ephedra lawsuits!

That’s right, the authors of this report are paid by law firms and called as expert witnesses in cases against companies (e.g., Cytodyne, MuscleTech, Next Nutrition, TwinLabs, GNC, Phoenix Labs,
Chemins Labs, etc.) that produce and market supplements containing ephedra!

Yes folks, that’s how low the anti ephedra camp is willing to go; to any lengths to get ephedra banned, and the facts based on science be damned.

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