NPR logo FDA Moves to Ban Diet Aid Ephedra


FDA Moves to Ban Diet Aid Ephedra

Agency Cites Health Dangers of Herbal Supplement

The FDA says the herbal supplement ephedra, used in weight loss aids such as Metabolife, poses unreasonable health risks. Maggy Sterner, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Maggy Sterner, NPR

The Food and Drug Administration plans to ban the use of ephedra in dietary supplements. Ephedra, which is commonly used as a weight loss aid and athletic performance enhancer, has been linked to heart problems, strokes and several deaths. The herbal supplement was cited as a factor in the death of 23-year-old Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler earlier this year.

The FDA says research shows the herbal supplement poses an unreasonable risk of illness or injury. Mark McClellan, head of the FDA, said the agency was concerned about young people and athletes, who use the drug as a "quick fix" for dieting and to boost their athletic performance.

Makers of ephedra dispute claims that the herbal treatment is dangerous.