Military Bans Sales of Ephedra Supplements
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor
US Army and Air Force have joined the Navy and Marine Corps in banning
sales of ephedra products in their post exchanges (stores) -- including
GNC concession nutrition stores. The decision affects both popular
"fat burning" products and muscle-building or performance enhancement
Army cites the death of a soldier during a run last April at Fort
Hood in Texas. The US Army's Training and Doctrine Command indicated
the ban would be in effect for six months pending results of a study
by the Department of Health and Human Services.
to Dr. (Col.) Bernard DeKoning, a Training Doctrine Command surgeon,
"One side effect of ephedra is that it increases the heart rate
and puts more strain on the heart. Soldiers participate in physically
strenuous activity, oftentimes in harsh environmental conditions
such as high heat and humidity. If a cardiac stimulant such as ephedra
is in the bloodstream, the heart and the rest of the body may not
withstand the strain."
September 2001, the National Football League (NFL) banned use of
ephedra, although it was not then clear how they would test for
the substance. Ephedra is also a banned substance for Olympic hopefuls.
NSF International (http://www.nsf.org) has a screening and certification
program that tests dietary supplements for substances that Olympic
athletes must avoid.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that approximately
80 deaths and more than 1,000 reports of negative side effects (adverse
events) are linked to ephedra. Industry trade organizations dispute
the accuracy and validity of these data.
Hathcock (PhD) Vice President of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs
for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), points out that
excessive use of any stimulant can be dangerous, adding that "epedra
can be used safely and responsibly [by healthy adults]. Those with
hypertension and heart disease should avoid it."
Cole. "Army, Air Force Exchange joins ban on ephedra." Honolulu
Advertiser, 9 December 2002.
Press. "NFL bans ephedra as performance enhancer." CNN/Sports Illustrated,
8 September 2001.