Ephedrine No Longer OTC
Until recently, ephedrine was the most popular OTC weight-loss remedy. The FDA has in fact approved one form of ephedrine—ephedrine hydrochloride—but this is the only type of ephedrine that can be legally considered a drug, and this form is not found in weight-loss products. The most common form used in non-FDA-approved products is an extract from a plant found in the United States. A similar plant exists in China as well.
A stimulant that affects the nervous system, ephed-rine has been used for decades as a component of nasal decongestants and asthma treatments. Ephedrine is also well known in athletic circles for its performance-enhancing properties. It causes high blood pressure and elevated heart rate, and is believed to increase the metabolism of those taking it for extended periods of time. This gives athletes more energy and allows calories to be burned more quickly.
Ephedrine has been linked to several deaths. As a result, it has been banned until more research can be done. Ephedrine may cause severe bleeding in the brain, as well as sudden heart attacks and strokes. It is a good example
of an over-the-counter drug that eventually proved to be far more dangerous than anyone had ever suspected.
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