Ephedra Sinica is a plant native to Asia which has been used to treat asthma, nasal congestion and eye irritation. Ephedrine originates from the plant and has been used in dietary supplements, weight loss products and performance enhancers.
Ephedra has been linked to serious heart conditions, including heart attack, stroke and even death. Some of the cases concerning the use of Ephedra have been high profile and have brought attention to the problems.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Belcher died during a spring practice after taking a product that contained Ephedra. It has been linked to over 100 different deaths of people taking some form of the drug.
The FDA also has documentation of more than 16,000 adverse effects such as heart palpitations, tremors, and insomnia.
In 2004, the FDA banned the use of the amphetamine-like product, citing that the risks outweighed the benefits.