The May 2000 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacists has a report from the University of Arkansas showing that half the supplements tested for Ephedra had a huge discrepancy between what the product label claimed was in the product and what was actually measured in the product.

One product contained no ephedra whatever, while another contained 154% of what the label claimed. This is particularly disturbing because ephedra is an extract from a Chinese plant called ma Huang. It contains ephedrine, a potent stimulant that raises blood pressure and makes the heart beat faster. Ephedra helps people to lose weight by suppressing appetite.

This is just another report telling you that herbals have useful functions and should be part of our health care system. However, The health food industry has lobbied congress hard to prevent any regulation, so it is an unregulated industry and you have no way to tell whether you are buying a product that is dependable or you are being taken by an unscrupulous fraud. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that 30 percent of supplements labeled St. Johns' wort for depression did not have the correct dose on the label and a report from MIT showed that most bottles labeled melatonin did not have much melatonin activity. It would be good for the health food and herbal industry to have government regulations, so you could have confidence in the industry and know how to tell the difference between unscrupulous frauds and honest sincere health food manufacturers.

American Journal of Health-System Pharmacists. May, 2000

Checked 5/3/07

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