Bans Sales of Ephedra
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor
past Sunday (May 25th), Illinois became the first state to ban all
sales of ephedra herbal supplements. Violations are punishable by
up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Penalties become stiffer
for repeat offenders. The ban became effective immediately.
new law does not apply to ephedra in cold remedies or make it illegal
to possess ephedra; people in Illinois can still buy such products
over the Internet or travel to adjacent states.
for the law rose from the death of 16-year-old Sean Riggins, a middle
linebacker on the Lincoln high school football team, who was taking
an ephedra supplement in hopes of becoming faster and stronger in
order to join the first-string football team. According to his parents,
Sean had no history of heart problems and had passed several sports
signing the new law, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said, "We
have to make sure that (young athletes) can no longer go to the
store and buy ephedra as easily as they can chewing gum."
is a strong trend toward increased restrictions on ephedra supplements.
Earlier this May, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed a law that bans
the sale of all diet supplements to children under 18. The FDA has
proposed to put a "black box" warning label on all ephedra supplement
products. More than a few manufacturers and retailers have stopped
making and selling supplements with ephedraincluding General
Nutrition Centers (GNC), 7-Eleven, and NBTY, maker of Puritan's
sports athletic associations, ephedra use has been banned by the
NFL, NCAA and International Olympic Committee. Contributing to these
bans were the deaths of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler,
who suffered heat stroke after taking three ephedra capsules earlier
this year, as well as Northwestern University defensive back Rashidi
Wheeler and Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Korey Stringer,
who died under similar circumstances in 2001.
Ephedra Education Council says approximately 15 million Americans
consume more than 3 billion servings of ephedra per year, where
a "serving" would generally mean a single tablet. The Council also
says that ephedra supplements are safe when taken as directed.
is not yet conclusive for either side of this debate. Some studies
indicate no significant differences in the levels of serious health
problems between groups of people who use or do not use ephedra.
Yet no one doubts that ephedra is a potent herb, and the FDA continues
to collect reports of serious adverse events associated with its
Loomis. "Illinois Adopts Statewide Ephedra Ban." The Associated
Press, 25 May 2003.
Ritter. "Ephedra Sales Banned in Illinois." Chicago Sun-Times,
26 May 2003.
Press International. "Illinois Bans Ephedra." 16 May 2003.