*** Important warning ***
Health Canada is reminding consumers not to use products containing Ephedra or ephedrine, either alone or in combination with caffeine and other stimulants, for purposes of weight loss, body building or increased energy. Use of these products may have serious, possibly fatal, adverse effects.
Consumers should use Ephedra/ephedrine products only for the approved indication of nasal decongestion.
Part of the plant used: above ground part (particularly stem)
Plants from the genus Ephedra have been used for over 5000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma. Today, young dried branches, harvested in the fall, are used to treat mild respiratory tract problems. Young branches contain active alkaloids, mostly ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These alkaloids can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. They also cause vasoconstriction, which can reduce congestion, and induce bronchodilation. Ephedra is also used as a stimulant for the central nervous system, in the same manner as caffeine. The various ephedra species usually contain 0.5 to 2.5% active alkaloids.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that ephedra is effective in any other indication.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.