An organisation supporting ephedra manufacturers yesterday released a report containing more than 55 clinical studies backing the herb's safety and weight loss benefits - the report found no significant adverse effects were caused by ephedrine or ephedra in any clinical trials.
In a speech before a national conference on weight loss and obesity, Ephedra Education Council general counsel Wes Siegner said that an analysis of more than 50 clinical studies on ephedrine or ephedra found no serious or medically significant adverse events. More than 20 of these studies found that ephedra dietary supplements were beneficial for helping with weight loss in adults.
"Clinical studies, which scientists consider the 'gold standard' for assessing product safety or benefits, favor ephedra's safety 55 to 0. Zero is the number of studies showing significant adverse effects," said Siegner.
He added that the industry had compiled the studies to correct the myth about the scientific record on ephedra. "Unlike our critics, the industry has done its homework from the start and has responsibly marketed products that are safe and beneficial when used according to label directions."
Experts on weight loss and obesity discussed ephedra and other dietary supplements at a two-day conference sponsored by Strategic Research Institute.
The industry is currently awaiting a regulatory outlook on ephedra and a new review to be released by Rand Corporation. Siegner's speech seemed to suggest that he does not see a FDA ban on the herb but rather further labelling requirements.
"Medical experts on weight loss agree that being overweight or obese carries serious health consequences, and that the benefits of Ephedra products for weight loss far outweigh rare potential risks," he said.
The Ephedra Education Council is supported primarily by members of the Ephedra Committee of the American Herbal Products Association.