Just days before the New Year, people throughout the Bay Area made a mad dash to buy Ephedra products before a new law went into effect making them illegal in California.
In just over a month a similar ban goes into effect throughout the nation. The ban has now left many searching for new options in losing weight. Some of the popular alternatives include: Guarana, Bitter Orange and Green Tea Extract.
One pharmacist says that these herbal alternatives are a stimulant kind of medication, which can increase blood pressure, decrease appetite and in high enough doses can cause death. He says people with high blood pressure or a thyroid condition should avoid herbal remedies like Green Tea Extract and Bitter Orange.
Pharmacists are also concerned the Ephedra substitutes may cause dangerous drug interactions with prescription medicine. Especially Bitter Orange, which may have the same interaction with medicine as grapefruit, a potential complication pharmacists already warn patients about.
For instance a medication almost everyone is on is Lipitor, its very common medication for cholesterol and that has an interaction with grapefruit and Bitter Orange may have the same interaction as grapefruit and those kind of side effects.
Studies also show Bitter Orange inhibits the body's ability to metabolize the prescription blood pressure drug Plendil to the point where too much of the drug gets into your body causing a potentially unhealthy drop in blood pressure.
Researchers also say Bitter Orange can have a dangerous interaction with some over the counter products, such as cough medicine containing Dextromehthorphan. And as for shedding pounds there is no evidence in people yet that it works.
Another Ephedra alternative is Bladderwrack a recent review of it by pharmacists shows the herb contains high levels of Iodine, which could cause or worsen thyroid disease. Your best bet is to check with your doctor.