There are side effects that some people experience with the use of ephedrine, ranging from mild to extreme. These include nervousness, dizziness, tremor, blood pressure rate changes, headaches, gastrointestinal difficulties, chest pain, stroke, seizure and psychosis.
In October 2002, members of the American Medical Association testified before Congress on the dangers of ephedra and ephedrine. The group urged the Food and Drug Administration to ban the diet aid. The AMA claimed that ephedra use is linked to heart attacks, strokes and seizures.
In February 2003, researchers at the RAND Corporation released results of a government-sponsored study that examined available information on products containing ephedra and ephedrine. The study included a review of more than 1,500 adverse event reports related to ephedra that were voluntarily reported to the FDA, and 125 such reports related to products containing synthetic ephedrine.
The following month, the FDA announced plans to require supplements containing ephedrine and ephedra to include warnings on the label that the supplements can cause heart attacks, seizures or death. FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan predicted that the labeling would affect how ephedra is sold and "lay the legal groundwork needed for further regulatory restrictions."
In 2004, the United States (via the Food & Drug Administration) banned the sale of all dietary supplements containing ephedrine and ephedra. However, a federal appeals court overturned that ruling, saying that the FDA has to prove that ephedra and ephedrine is dangerous. The FDA claimed that the burden of proof was on supplement companies to instead prove that the products were safe. The battle is expected to continue over this issue in court appeals.