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Navigation:  Home > Class Action Law> Ephedra


Ephedra, derived from an Asiatic shrub, contains ephedrine, a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system to relax bronchial tubes. Ephedrine acts on the appetite control center of the brain, the hypothalmus, suppressing the desire to eat. Ephedrine stimulates the heart and causes blood vessels to constrict, increasing blood pressure and heart rate.

Ephedra can produce the following adverse reactions: heart attack, stroke, tachycardia, paranoid psychosis, depression, convulsions, coma, fever, vomiting, palpitations, hypertension, and respiratory depression. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that dietary supplements containing ephedra may present significant or unreasonable risks as currently marketed, and announced a series of actions designed to protect Americans from these risks.

In May 2003, a class action lawsuit was launched against approximately 16 ephedra manufacturers across the United States, possibly the first such suit in the supplement industry. The complaint names Metabolife International, Twin Laboratories, Rexall Sundown and Cytodyne, in addition to other ephedra power players such as Herbalife, Next Protein, EAS and Bioplex Nutrition. The widow of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler has also sued the manufacturer and the distributor of a dietary supplement containing ephedra for $600 million.

The 23-year-old Bechler started a firestorm of controversy over the ephedra supplement  after he collapsed. His body temperature rose to more than 108 degrees and he died the next day. A bottle of Xenadrine RFA-1 was found in Bechler's locker. Toxicology tests confirmed significant amounts of an over-the-counter supplement containing ephedra led to Bechler's. The lawsuit filed by Kiley Bechler also seeks a ban on the sale of ephedra-based products.

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