If you have ever considered losing weight, you have probably heard of the various kinds of diet pills available. Diet pills claim to "melt away the fat." They sound like the perfect solution to shed a few pounds, but research tells a different story. An herb called ephedra is currently the most common substance in diet pills. Ephedra also known as desert herb or Ma Huang is available for over the counter distribution, but the FDA is researching the side effects. Many cases of heart diseases and strokes have been linked to the herb. The use of diet pills is not recommended, but the advice does not stop many Americans. Diet pills are dangerous and should not be taken. The pills should be avoided because they do not provide a safe or effective way to lose weight, cause heart valve disease and other complications, and are used as a replacement for physical activity.
Ephedra contains two alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Physicians use these alkaloids to treat bronchial asthma, bronchitis, persistent coughs, and shortness of breath. The alkaloids are also effective in treating allergic skin reaction such as hives, relieve general body pain and treat low blood pressure (herbs, 1).
Since it also has a thermogenic effect (increases basal metabolic rate, slightly raising body temperature and causing calories to be burned at a faster rate), it has also proven to be an effective aid for weight loss. For dieters it suppresses the appetite and stimulates the thyroid gland, which stimulates metabolism. Recently ma huang has been the subject of scientist research for obesity, because of its thermogenic fat burning effects on dietary intake. One of the side effects of thermogenesis is a slight increase in pulse rate and an elevation of blood pressure. Ephedra is therefore not recommended for individuals with high blood pressure, heart problems or hyperthyroidism. It may also cause problems for people with insomnia and for those who suffer from panic attacks.