Safe As Mormon Tea


It sounds like the congressional hearings on ephedra products scheduled for today and tomorrow will focus on manufacturers' alleged dishonesty–in particular, Metabolife International's reluctance to report its customers' adverse reactions to the Food and Drug Administration. But accusations of industry chicanery should not distract attention from the hyperbole of ephedra's opponents, who have whipped up public alarm about a drug with a safety record that compares favorably to those of many popular over-the-counter remedies and prescription drugs (yes, even when you take into account the Metabolife data).

The ephedra industry is vulnerable partly because it depends on a loophole in federal law that allows "dietary supplements," including "herbs," to be sold without the sort of FDA approval that is required for pharmaceuticals. Hence manufacturers have to pretend their product is not a drug. This legalistic maneuver gives consumers a little more freedom to self-medicate, but it also raises unreasonable expectations about safety.

The dietary supplement route is not the only way for a psychoactive substance to escape regulation as a drug. Coffee is a "food," for example, even though it contains caffeine. The success of this label is apparent from the fact that the manufacturer of NoDoz, which is considered a drug, reassures consumers by telling them the stimulant is "safe as coffee." It's too bad for the ephedra industry that Mormon tea never really caught on.


NEXT: The Truth Is Out There

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  1. “Consumer groups say ephedra is too dangerous and have called for a ban.”

    It seems these consumer groups don’t represent the common consumer. We are talking about a multimillion dollar industry that widely uses ephedra. That right there surely contradicts what consumer groups are saying. If its that “dangerous,” how can it generate such sales?

  2. I would imagine the push here is because of the high profile of a couple of athletes that have dropped in the past couple of years which were blamed on ephedra. I haven’t seen the reported dosage levels found in any of the autopsies, is anyone aware of those numbers?

  3. I thought Mormons didn’t drink tea … because of the caffine. Maybe that’s why they came up with this?

  4. I thought Mormons didn’t drink tea because of the whole, “brewed beverages” thing. Then again, it’s been a while since I took a glance at the book of Mormon. Those Indian killers sure can pop pills with the best of them, though.

  5. Brady:

    I don’t have any numbers, but I seem to recall a bunch of other circumstances in the deaths of ephedra using athletes: namely physical activities in extremely hot weather and pre-existing, non-ephedra related health conditions.

    Help! The drugs are out to get me! Run away! Run Away!

  6. Please, someone save me! If there is a pill for sale which could in any way potentially harm me I can’t help but injest it! It’s all my mother’s fault! Won’t someone save me from myself?!?

  7. Yet another instance of a few high-profile incidents ruining things for everyone else. Last year I used an ephreda product in conjunction with exercise and diet to lose fifty pounds. I need to lose a few more, and I’m not going to use ephedra for those (I can’t because I live in Illinois, where it has been banned), but there are others out there who can use the help.

  8. Yes, Mormons don’t drink tea b/c of their ban on any mind-altering substances, even as mild as caffeine and nicotine. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that ephedra tea was a solution, though. We’re talking about a very new religion that’s still finding its footing and still inventing new rules about appropriate behavior, dress, etc., and tossing old rules by the wayside. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the no caffeine thing is a fairly recent innovation.

  9. the “Word of Wisdom” (the name of the guidelines the LDS church follows) was instituted in 1833. Beyond the counsel to not partake of coffee, tea, alcohol, tabacco or dangerous drugs, it also prescribes that it’s followers live healthy lifestyles (it speaks of the uses of herbs and plants, of eating meat sparingly, of good sleep, etc.) to keep mind and body healthy.

    just an fyi

  10. link to the Mormon belief on the matter:

  11. Brady, the recent death of Bechler was apparently from taking more then the recommended dosage of the ephedra supplement. He was slightly overweight and took it to get back into game playing form. Obviously the guy was out of shape from a slothful winter and then proceeded to partake in spring training in hot and humid Florida. It was said he died of heat exhaustion. Same with the Minn Viking football player, which took place during the summer prior to the start of the football season. Its quite apparent that the feds need to quickly step in and protect people like this from their own foolishness.

    Once they manage to get ephedra banned, I guess I will once again be an illicit drug user. I just hope they don’t train the dogs to sniff out ephedra too. I guess I can switch to Qat until that gets banned as well. Damn these puritans!

  12. Thanks Juppin, I figured they were dosing up. Hell, in HS the big fad for a while was for guys to pop like 10-20 mini thins and the work out. Just a little over the bottles 2 pill max warning.

    Hell, one of my roomies back in college ate a box of dramamine because our “Magic, ritual and religion” professor (hell of a class) told us that its active ingredient Dimenhydrinate can get you high. I’d never seen someone turn so red in my life…lol.

    Anyway, my point is, of course, that just because people can’t follow the label doesn’t mean that something should be banned. I guess the FDA just got jealous that they were not involved with such a popular drug.

  13. Reminds me of an Onion headline –

    “Fun Toy Banned Becasue of Three Stupid Dead Kids”.

  14. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that – been ahwhile since I visited the grand ole onion.

    Here’s that story:

    WASHINGTON, DC?In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Wizco Toys of Montclair, NJ, recalled 245,000 Aqua Assault RoboFighters Monday after three dumb kids managed to kill themselves playing with the popular toy, ruining the fun for everybody else.

    “The tragedy is inconceivable,” Wizco president Alvin Cassidy said. “For years, countless children played with the Aqua Assault RoboFighter without incident. But then these three retards come along and somehow find a way to get themselves killed. So now we have to do a full recall and halt production on what was a really awesome toy. What a waste.”

    Less than one month after Weiller’s death, 5-year-old Danielle Krug fatally suffocated on fragments of the toy after repeatedly smashing it with a claw hammer in the garage of her parents’ La Porte, IN, home.

    “I’m not kidding,” said Dianne Ensor, an emergency-room nurse at Our Lady Of Peace Hospital in La Porte, where Krug was pronounced dead. “She thought the broken shards were candy. That’s what you’d assume after breaking a plastic, inedible toy, right? Absolutely un-fucking-believable.”

  15. I guess I’m one of those people that the ephedra ban would be ‘good’ for. I use an ephedra supplement while playing ice hockey. It’s actually for people who are suffering from asthma, which makes it perfect for sports. Not only does the ephedra give you a nice ‘boost’, but the bronchodilator helps me get extra air into my lungs – a good thing for such a sport.

    Now if I died from such activity, I would encourage people to laugh at my stupidity. However, since I’m not obese, out-of-shape, or possessing a weak heart, I think it’s a rather benign use of the substance. Others can argue with me on this, and I will patiently listen and can even see their point.

    Regardless, the nannys should not be able to take it away for even more legitimate uses just because of a few accidents that can be only marginally linked to it in most cases.

  16. From earlier in this thread:

    Yes, Mormons don’t drink tea b/c of their ban on any mind-altering substances, even as mild as caffeine and nicotine

    And from an earlier thread:

    Addiction is kind of a vague term, and we obviously can’t say that we’ve proven that you can become addicted to food. All we found is that there are similar findings between this high-fat diet we gave the rats and what you see after similar schedules of morphine in rats….

    We have no idea what it does to their behavior necessarily. We’re exploring that in the future. All we have right now are the parallel changes in the biochemistry.

    Does this mean that Mormons are banned from eating high-fat foods?

  17. “This will give me a penis the size of a pumpkin? WOOOHOO!”

  18. In the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X is described as getting high in prison off of a mixture of water and either powdered cinnamon or ginger (I can’t remember). After the book was assigned for class, a bunch of us tried it. Unless we were imagining it, it really had physical effects. I imagine that if one of us had died, there would be calls for the banning of powdered spices?

  19. At the very least the ephedra vendors should put a big label on it saying that, if you’re male, it’ll give you a prostate the size of a pumpkin.

  20. I will be sorry to see epherda go. Since i started taking the recommended dosage with dietary supplements, i’ve lost 30 pounds , kept it off for 2 years now, and stuck to a very healthy diet, with no problems. Its also helped me to stop drinking and smoking permanently. Now i will have to find something else. Any ideas ?

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