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Will Ma Huang be Banned?

The New York State Health Commission issued an order (1996) banning euphoria-producing herbal supplements that contain the stimulant ephedrine. Ephedrine is the active ingredient in the Chinese diaphoretic herb called Ma Huang.

"Powders and pills with brand names such as 'Herbal Ecstasy' or 'Legal Weed' are marketed to youths as safe, herbal alternatives to illicit drugs, such as the hallucinogen ecstasy, but in fact can be lethal", New York Gov. George Pataki said.

The products, which are sold in convenience stores, health food stores, through mail order and, of course, on the Internet, proclaim that they increase sexual pleasure and mental awareness.

In reality, according to the traditional functions of Ma Huang, the functions of this herb include the following:

  • Induces sweating to relieve patient of "common cold" or the certain kinds of "flu" symptoms.
  • Opens up the lungs for those suffering from asthma that comes from certain etiologies.
  • Promotes urination and reduces edema.

The reason the Ma Huang is included in many of these "legal high" formulas is that, when used improperly, it can also increase blood pressure, cause restlessness, tremors and arrhythmias. These physiological responses could be interpreted by the Ma Huang user as having more energy. There is no documentation that would support a sensation of "ecstasy" or euphoria associated with the use of Ma Huang.

Ephedrine, the active ingredient in Ma Huang has been isolated and used in Western medicine as a treatment for acute asthma because of its bronchodilation properties.

The New York health commission order makes it illegal to sell or distribute the supplements. The state's Agriculture and Markets Commission also ordered the recall of beverages containing ephedrine ma huang.

``It is sad that our youth are being tempted to use these products as if they were vitamins, M & M's or Snapple,'' Pataki said in a prepared statement. ``These products are marketed to young people as safe and legal alternatives to street drugs.''

The order follows the March 7 death of a Long Island college student who took an overdose of pills containing ephedrine.

The Food and Drug Administration has counted 15 deaths connected to supplements containing ephedrine and has warned that ephedrine can cause seizures, heart attacks and psychosis.

Earlier this week three Senators introduced a bill that would allow the FDA to classify the products as a drug and subject them to testing.

Florida banned pills containing ephedrine in April.


After this news was posted, Acupuncture.com received another letter from an interested party that reads as follows:

From my understanding, this is NOT THE ENTIRE STORY. THE BAN IS ON PARTICULAR PRODUCTS. NOT ALL MA-HUANG FORMULAS.

The products targeted are: Ultimate Xphoria, Cloud 9, Herbal Ecstasy, Euphoria, X Tablets, Legal Weed, Rave Energy, Herbal XTC, Hextasy, Ecstasy, Buzz Tablets, Planet X, Fungalore, Naturally High, The Drink, Fukola Cola Brain Wash, Love Potion #69, Black Lemonade, Brainalizer.

Basically, it's the stuff we (the TCM community) want off the market also. It's Ma-huang in it's abused and denigrated state.

Doing a little research on the Web, I found that there may be some accuracy to this. To decide for yourself, please see: The Thomas Legislative Information Site. and perform a keyword search for "Ephedrine."

 


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