Ephedra vs ephedrine part 2: side effects, safety and legality of the EC stack so you can decide whether or not you should supplement with it.
The EC Stack: Side Effects, Safety and Legality?
Ephedra was banned in the USA in 2004 and in the UK soon after due to a number of side effects and even deaths related to the use of ephedra supplements.
Ephedrine on the other hand is still legal and is found in over the counter medications; however, purchasing ephedrine HCL can be difficult.
Why Was Ephedra Banned?
The safety of ephedra vs ephedrine caused ephedra to be banned and the reasons for this were:
- Dieters ignoring correct dosage
- Dieters with existing health issues ignoring warnings
- Food Drug Administration (FDA) sponsored studies with biased results
- Dieters engaging in intense exercise and exposure to heat
The reason ephedra supplements were banned were because people abused the product and ignored the recommended dosage. When so many people run into problems (as a result of ignoring the correct dosage) governments ban them because it’s easier.
Lyle McDonald sums this up nicely in his book
The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook
Products such as ephedra and ephedrine should not be used by people with existing health conditions such as high blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmias, however, people with these conditions were (knowingly or unknowingly) using them.
All drugs cause side effects and for some people they won’t be suitable, this should be fairly obvious but people didn’t do their research or talk to health professionals and thus problems occur.
A list of health problems which prevent dieters using ephedrine is below (note this is not a complete list and you should ALWAYS check with your doctor before beginning supplementation):
- cerebral insufficiency
- enlarged prostate
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- heart rate disorders
- kidney disease
- kidney stones
- mental illness
- thyroid disease
- transient ischemic attacks
Many of the studies publicised were sponsored by the FDA, clearly if they are paying for the study the outcome can be tailored to suit their agenda. This is what happened in often referenced studies such as
“The relative safety of ephedra compared with other herbal products.”
The study reported “Products containing ephedra accounted for 64% of all adverse reactions to herbs in the United States, yet these products represented only 0.82% of herbal product sales.”
Studies like this generate headlines which soon become fact; however, the study was flawed as it overstated the risks by using incorrect data.
A detailed analysis on this study was conducted by Dr. Stephen Kimmel, an expert in cardiac epidemiology and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and chair of the EEC panel that found users of thermogenic supplements are no more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke than the general population.
For more information about this study, the analysis and the truth about the safety of ephedra vs ephedrine I highly recommend this article:
Ephedra side effects compared to other herbs.
4 – Dieters engaging in intense exercise and exposure to heat
Many people seeking to lose weight couple ephedra with exercise, however, ephedra and ephedrine are thermogenics which means they increase your body heat.
Add intense exercise like HIT cardio and very intense weightlifting and you’re likely to suffer heatstroke and even pass out!
There have been famous athletes whose deaths were attributed to ephedrine induced heat stroke following exercise. Again, intense exercise coupled with a thermogenic and hot weather is a recipe for disaster.
Final Thoughts on Safety of Ephedra vs Ephedrine
Overall, ephedra and ephedrine like any drug come with side effects and risks. Similarly, ignoring the recommended dosage and advice is likely to cause serious problems.
In my opinion, if healthy dieters (i.e. no pre existing issues) follow the recommended ephedrine dosage guidelines then the risk is much smaller that the media would have you believe.
Consider that during all of the scientific studies into ephedra and ephedrine there has not been a single report of dangerous side effects, this indicates that much of the problem lies in the ABUSE of ephedrine and ephedra.
Ephedra vs Ephedrine: Should You Use The EC Stack?
Whilst there are a number of benefits to be gathered by supplementing with the EC stack my general opinion is that it should be avoided by most people.
I say this because there are a number of problems that can occur if you take too much or use the EC stack in situations outlined above.
If you are perfectly healthy, responsible and understand the risks then you may wish to try the EC stack. I’ve done this myself but the decision is entirely yours, I just wanted to give you the unbiased facts so you can make your own mind up.
It’s not required for fat loss and some of my most successful diets such as that listed in
fat burning workout plan
didn’t use the EC stack and I got the abs I wanted, so you too will be fine without it.
The advantage the EC stack gives you probably only adds 5% to your weight loss anyway so the choice is really yours.
Either way I hope these articles explain the ephedra vs ephedrine debate and help you make your mind up.