The pitfalls of herbal supplements

The four billion a year supplement industry sells steroid supplements and herbal speed to millions of teenage boys and girls. There are many types of supplements; among the most popular are Creatine, Andro (androstenedione), and ephedrine. All of these supplements are legal but are they safe? In this paper I will explore why the FDA has failed to put stronger regulations on these supplements, what they are and what they do, who endorses them, and were and how you can purchase these potentially harmful supplements; with the help from Jay McMahan and his expertise as a personal trainer and user of these herbal supplements.

Creatine, Andro, and Ephedrine are among the most popular supplements, but do we know what they are and what they do? Creatine is an amino acid compound naturally produced by the kidneys, liver and pancreas, it helps muscles quickly regenerate after exertion. There are no known harmful side effects, though there is evidence that Creatine can cause dehydration, muscle cramps, weight gain and nausea. The supplement Andro (Androstenedione), is produced naturally in the human body, androstenedione is a precursor hormone for testosterone and estrogen. Its structural similarity to steroids suggests it may pose the same risks (liver damage, heart disease, low sperm counts, development of breasts and violent mood swings), though there have been no long-term studies. The stimulant Ephedrine from ma huang or ephedra, a plant used to treat asthma, fevers, and body and joint pain. Though widely available it has been banned from the NFL, the NCAA and the IOC, and the FDA reported anecdotal evidence linking it to eighty-one deaths since 1994.

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You dont need a dealer or even an ID card to buy these herbal supplements. All teenagers have to do is go to their local mall and purchase it from GNC (General Nutrition Center). Clerks sell these potentially harmful supplements to any one regardless of their age. It seems that they are even marketing towards kids with products such as Creatine Candy and smoothies in a variety of fruit flavors and loaded with the supplement of their choice.
Why hasnt the Food and Drug Administration put stronger regulations on the purchasing of these supplements? For the ease with which supplements can be gotten we can thank Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Ten years ago the sport supplement industry was reeling from a string of disasters. The Food and Drug Administrarion began petitioning congress the right to treat supplements like the drugs most scientists say they are and subject them to long, costly such as pharmaceuticals get before they can go to the market. The big supplement makers in response developed an ad campaign to convince consumers that the government was trying to criminalize vitamins; at the same time, the industrys lobbyists bribed congress with money for protection from the FDA. They found a ready taker in Hatch. Hatch repaid them with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. DSHEA exempted supplements from scrutiny by reclassifying them as foods; it also barred the FDA from recalling any substance unless it could be proved product by product, even bottle by bottle, to be harmful.

Sports heroes endorse many of these harmful substances. Sammy Sosa, Mary Pierce, and Mike Piazza are all avid users of Creatine and swear by it. Before the NFL banned ephedrine supplements, 2000 NFL MVP Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James and New York Giants receiver Joe Jurevicius all endorsed Ephedrine. Mark McGuire admitted to using Andro, after his great feat of beating the home run record sales of Andro went up 1000 percent. Mark McGuire didnt like the way that he was portrayed as the endorser of the product, which he wasnt because he didnt want young kids to take it because of him.

I think that it is very important for the FDA to some how put stronger regulations on the usage of these potentially harmful supplements. I had taken ephedrine when I was only sixteen years old not knowing the effects all I knew was that I wanted to lose weight. I experienced dizziness, rapid heart beat and extreme weight loss. If I would have known the implications of taking those drugs I do not think that I would have taken them. There needs to be better education from parents, teacher, and coaches on the dangers of using these natural supplements.

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