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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
76th Speaker of the Senate Marcus Glass, left, poses with incoming 77th Speaker of the Senate Ava Blackburn.
Student leaders reflect on years of service in final Student Senate meeting
Justice Jenson, Senior News Reporter • April 18, 2024

The Student Government Association wrapped up its 76th session by giving out awards such as the Senator, Committee and Statesman of the Year...

Freshman Tiago Pires reaches to return the ball during Texas A&M’s match against Arkansas on Sunday, April 7, 2024 at Mitchell Tennis Center. (Lana Cheatham/The Battalion)
No. 14 Aggies receive early exit from SEC Tournament
Matthew Seaver, Sports Writer • April 19, 2024

The No. 14 Texas A&M men’s tennis team fell to the No. 44 LSU Tigers 4-3 in a down-to-the-wire duel on Thursday, April 18. Facing off at...

Julia Cottrill (42) celebrating a double during Texas A&Ms game against Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at Davis Diamond. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Muffled the Mean Green
April 17, 2024
Members of the 2023-2024 Aggie Muster Committee pose outside the Jack K. Williams Administration Building. (Photo courtesy of Aggie Muster Committee)
Orchestrating a century-old tradition
Sydnei Miles, Head Life & Arts Editor • April 18, 2024

As Muster approaches, the Aggie Muster Committee works to organize a now century-old tradition. These students “coordinate every facet” of...

(Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)
Opinion: ‘Fake Money,’ real change
Eddie Phillips, Opinion Writer • April 19, 2024

Us Aggies live privileged existences: companies beg us to take on tens of thousands in loans.  I know this may sound contradictory, but the...

The future of ephedrine

Those familiar with ephedrine have likely heard the many exaggerated claims about the herb’s supposed risks. After all, the media, bolstered by highly questionable Food and Drug Administration studies and professional athlete deaths, rarely report anything positive about the herb. Ephedrine’s weight loss and energy-boosting benefits — benefits the FDA even recognizes on its Web site, — are seemingly ignored. The FDA is currently accepting public comment on the supplement before making a federal push to “support new restrictions on ephedra-containing products,” according to its Web site.
As The Washington Times reports, these restrictions are the first steps toward a nationwide ban, something no freedom-loving American wants to see. As March comes to a close, students and others face their last chance to voice to the FDA their desires to have unrestricted access to herbs and dietary supplements that may benefit their health.
The ephedrine debate was recently reignited by the untimely death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler last month. Bechler’s death is indeed sad, but even more upsetting is how a legal supplement, ephedrine, was labeled his killer by the media, an assertion that simply isn’t true.Yes, Bechler had been taking ephedrine, but as The Washington Times reported earlier this month, “other factors could have been instrumental in Bechler’s death, such as he was overweight, had an enlarged heart, had… high blood pressure, and was diagnosed two years ago with an abnormal liver.” Bechler, who was 250 lbs., died of a heatstroke according to medical examiners. Sure, ephedrine might have stimulated his metabolism, but there is no conclusive proof that it killed him. Almost all “ephedrine deaths” have similar circumstances surrounding them.
Unfortunately for consumers, the FDA is using catastrophic events such as this to turn the tide of public opinion against the herb. After Bechler’s death, the administration cited a questionable RAND Corporation study, known as the Rand report, before reopening a proposed rule affecting the sale of ephedrine entitled “Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids,” according to the FDA Web site. Health-minded students concerned with their access to legal dietary supplements must voice their opinions about this rule so that it never becomes federal law, as it would almost surely result in a ban on ephedrine.
As The Washington Times reports, the rule would, among other things, require “that every bottle containing ephedra list death, heart attacks and strokes as potential side effects.” And though it would not ban ephedrine outright, the FDA has not been shy about admitting this is its goal. This ruling would come as a blow not only to the dietary supplement industry, but to the civil liberties of all Americans who enjoy their consumer freedoms.
The media has thus far failed miserably to report on ephedrine with any sort of balance or fairness, so here are the facts. Since ephedrine first gained common use in Sudafed and other health products, it has only been linked to 100 deaths, according to the FDA. Only in two of these supposed ephedrine deaths were “no other contributing factors identified.” Furthermore, RAND admitted in its February report that it cannot prove ephedrine has caused any adverse events, even recognizing that its own case studies “are a weak form of scientific evidence,” according to the FDA site.
FDA Commissioner of Food and Drugs Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., even admits that “the overall evidence suggests that serious adverse events from ephedra appear to be infrequent,… (and) it may be possible to use ephedra safely.” How can anyone trust the FDA’s criticisms of ephedrine when the FDA isn’t even sure of what it’s reporting? The fact remains that there is simply not enough damning evidence against ephedrine to justify further restricting it.
Americans treasure their personal freedoms, but the FDA is doing its best to infringe upon them. Students and others must voice their disapproval of these proposed restrictions to the FDA, or it will only further limit Americans’ access to legitimate dietary supplements.

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