If you trained hard in the late ’90s then you know one supplement came as close as we’ve ever gotten to a magic bullet for weight loss and energy:
This supplement, found in iconic products such as Ripped Fuel and Stacker 2, along with the venerable ECA stack (Ephedrine, Caffeine, Aspirin) fueled innumerable workouts of myself and my friends. These products were capable of elevating a lousy workout to good, and good to exceptional, based on the seemingly never-ending font of energy they produced. For years, I took these products in frankly unsafe levels, getting to the point where I was overdosing nearly every day, just to get that jacked, machine-like rampage going in the gym. I remember nights of partying and drinking, then waking up on 4 hours of sleep, popping a few Stacker 2s, then going berserk in the gym. Even if I was utterly wiped out, this pill could bring me back from the brink, and power up a great workout.
Such was the power of Ephedrine.
No supplement, before or since (save steroids and prohormones) has produced such a noticeable effect on energy levels and weight loss. As a matter of fact, no one even tried to argue it wasn’t effective. So how did a supplement, the core of which had been used in Chinese medicine since the Han dynasty with over 2000 years of history, get banned? The same way a lot of the first wave of Prohormones (over the counter steroids for all intents and purposes) did:
Baseball, coupled with pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
The FDA had been looking into Ephedrine since the early ’90s, but nothing serious ever came of it, given the long history it has had globally. They would issue a report or white paper, call it a day and move onto the next thing. Then, on February 16th, Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler died after a workout, and subsequent toxicology showed that he had Ephedrine in his system. This was all the impetus needed to move on Ephedrine, even though he had multiple other health issues, and had overdosed Xenadrine on a hot day without hydration. Even the doctors stated that they could not conclusively prove ephedrine was the cause of death, and many others have died of heat and exercise problems without Ephedrine. In the wake of this death, paper after paper was released detailing the potentially harmful effects of Ephedrine.
Immediately, within one month, the FDA issued proposed rules to regulate the supplements, and in less than a year, a blanket ban on Ephedrine had been issued. Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the government resolve anything this quickly, but here we were, watching a supplement used for thousands of years get banned despite a complete lack of factual basis. The key to this whole thing is understanding that the FDA bows to pressure from outside groups and utilizes tainted scientific data. In my book, I showed how Coke paid scientists in the ’60s to shift the blame from sugar to fat for obesity and heart disease, to keep people slugging down sugary sodas. The FDA is the organization that spent decades recommending an aspirin a day, only to retract the recommendation many years later. People would even have side effects from an overdose of ASPIRIN, showing that any drug can be potentially harmful. Banning cocaine, or heroin, or steroids were one thing, but the Ephedrine ban was the first moment I can remember where the government banned something that was only theoretically dangerous. In the wake of the Ephedrine ban, many more effective supplements got the ax as well.
So, how did this all happen?
Take a look at all of the most effective supplements that have been banned, or are in the process of being prohibited or restricted. Ephedrine, Glutamine, CBD Oil, and even Prohormones are all highly effective, and also dirt-cheap. These have either been banned already or are on the chopping block. In addition, they all have prescription alternatives that are insanely expensive. Adderall, Testosterone Replacement and the like are prescribed like candy and are not only more expensive but highly addictive. Take a look at TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). In the old days, if you wanted to get jacked, you just ran a cycle of over the counter Androstenedione, the supplement that Mark McGwire took when he was blasting baseballs into the stratosphere. It would amp your Testosterone levels, you’d get jacked, then come off of it for a while and everything was great. Sure enough, Andro and its variants were too effective and too cheap. Andro gets banned and placed in the same category with actual steroids; meanwhile, Big Pharma comes up with a way to keep you jacked 24/7/365 by completely replacing your natural testosterone production, and calling it TRT. So now, instead of popping some cheap Andro for a few months, then taking some time off, you now get to completely replace your natural testosterone production, for a nice tidy monthly payment, since coincidentally, no other method is legal. All you have to do is never come off of it, since it completely stops your testosterone production, permanently. Better hope you never lose your health insurance package on that one.
I used to think the banning of supplements was just a sort of nanny state overreach by the government. It is, but keep in mind, these FDA and government officials have been shown information that they believe to be correct. Not all of them are corrupt bureaucrats, rubbing their hands together like super-villains, most are probably actually being deceived. The real question is who commissioned the studies that showed Ephedrine to be dangerous and presented them to the FDA? Which group got paid for the studies? What about Andro? Who stands to gain by a particular supplement being banned, when there is a permanent pharmaceutical replacement available at a much higher cost? Remember, the next time you take some absurdly expensive prescription and pay a ludicrous amount each month for insurance, that at some point there was likely a dirt cheap version that got shoved off the life raft in favor of prescription medication.
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