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A. Ephedra Tops List of Riskiest Herbal Supplements

Narrator: This is Science Today. Ephedra, a stimulant herb usually marketed to athletes for improved performance, has been found by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, to be hundreds of times riskier than any other commonly used herbal supplement on the market. Dr. Stephen Bent, an assistant professor of medicine, led the study.

Bent: We obtained all reports, or all side effects reports to poison control centers in the year 2001 and determined the percentage of sales in the county for each of those herbal products. And then we calculated how many side effects there were per herbal product user of these different herbs and compared them. And it turns out that ephedra has hundreds of times more side effects reported to poison control centers than any other herbal product.

Narrator: Bent's study is an important part of a growing national concern over ephedra that is grabbing the attention of the FDA and may soon lead to a restriction or complete ban of the herb. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.