Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Supplemental Suffering

By Josie GlausiuszMay 1, 2003 5:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Ephedra, a weight-loss stimulant linked to the recent death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, is not the only dietary supplement with potentially lethal effects. Physician and toxicologist Mary Palmer of George Washington University analyzed 2,332 calls to poison-control centers in the United States from individuals who had taken supplements.

Among those who reported health problems, one-third of the symptoms were severe, including heart attacks, seizures, liver failure, bleeding, and coma. The substances most frequently associated with such side effects were St. John's wort, ginseng, guarana, chromium, melatonin, and zinc; the worst offender was the herb mahuang, an Asian form of ephedra. Despite the claimed and unintended medical effects of these supplements, there are no laws controlling their sale. "I would love it if people would get active and at minimum demand that there be a registration process so adverse events could be associated and retrieved," Palmer says.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In