The wisdom of the FDA ban on ephedra has again been called into question, this time by a double-blind placebo controlled study published in the International Journal of Obesity. The study is entitled “Multinutrient supplement containing ephedra and caffeine causes weight loss and improves metabolic risk factors in obese women: a randomized controlled trial.”
Forty-one women completed the study. The treatment group lost significantly more body weight (-7.18 kg) and body fat (-5.33 kg) than the control group (-2.25 and -0.99 kg, respectively), and showed significant declines in heart rate, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein ratio, glucose, fasting insulin, and leptin. Blood pressure, electrocardiograms, other clinical chemistry measures, blood histology, urinalysis, and self-reported physical activity were similar in the groups. Minor symptoms included dry mouth, insomnia, nervousness and palpitations. The treatment group reported more energy and decreased appetite compared to controls and scored higher on a quality of life domain assessing vitality.
Conclusion: A dietary supplement containing a low potency ephedra/caffeine mixture appeared safe and effective in causing loss of weight and body fat, and improving several metabolic parameters, including insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles when tested under physician supervision. Such supplements could be a useful tool to assist with weight loss.
Meanwhile, the “ephedra-free” supplements that have replaced ephedra on store shelves are increasingly coming under attack. In a study entitled “Hemodynamic effects of ephedra-free weight-loss supplements in humans,” published in the American Journal of Medicine, several of the researchers who lead the charge against ephedra the first time around conclude that “ephedra-free weight loss supplements have significant cardiovascular stimulant actions, similar to ephedra.”
Thanks to David for the tip!