Brain Mind Center

Ephedra Causes Strokes

"Ephedra is an amphetamine-like alkaloid that was incorporated into many weight loss, fat-burner, and energy boozing products. Weight loss products such as Stacker 3 and Ripped Fuel Extreme were sold with false claims and product hype  such as the "ECA stack" that referred  to the combination of ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. Between January 1993 and October 2000, the FDA received 1,398 reports of adverse health events and 81 deaths attributed to ephedra supplements. Ephedra-related products accounted for less than 1% of all dietary supplement sales but lead to  64% of adverse event reactions reported to poison control centers. Ephedra effects included hypertension, seizures, cerebrovascular accidents, cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions, psychosis, and cognitive impairments. In December 2003, the FDA issued a consumer alert warning and later prohibited ephedra sales in February 2004"  From Reuter's Health

Moawad et al reported a case study of a 29-year-old who had a seizure  while playing basketball. He had never experienced a seizure activity before. He on a “weight loss program” using the ephedra-containing supplements, Stacker 3 and Ripped Fuel Extreme. 

On admission to hospital he had high blood pressure, evidence of a heart attack and confusion. His symptoms subsided with blood pressure control, but one week later, he developed complete visual loss. His blood pressure was markedly elevated. The visual areas of his brain were abnormal on scan. The diagnosis was posterior reversible encephalopathy, a syndrome characterized by headache, mental status changes, generalized seizures and transient cortical blindness. The development of the syndrome, especially cortical blindness, may be delayed up to several weeks after the initial insult. An acute rise in systemic blood pressure resulting in hypertensive encephalopathy is the most commonly reported cause. Fortunately for this patient, cortical blindness, mental status changes and radiographic abnormalities resolved with control of his blood pressure.

History of Mind Drugs
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J. Moawad; Joshua D. Hartzell; Timothy J. Biega; Christopher J. Lettieri,   Transient Blindness Due to Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome Following Ephedra Overdose. South Med J.  2006;99(5):511-514. 

Further reading: Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and Learning, Language & Thinking

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