Letter to the Editor


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To the editor:

Ephedra is a substance found in a Chinese plant called ma huang. It has been used in China for 5,000 years to treat respiratory congestion. Ephedra is considered a herb in the United States. It is available in herbal stores as a herbal dietary supplement.

Available in pharmacies, supermarkets and discount stores is a synthetic form of ephedra. It is called pseudoephedrine and is found is such common decongestants as Sudafed and Actifed, both available over the counter.

As it stands now, we have a choice in some states of purchasing ephedra, a natural substance, or pretend ephedra, a manmade chemical. But we may not be able to make that choice very long. Ephedra, being a herb, is classified as a food supplement and, therefore, did not fall under Food and Drug Administration regulation. Now the FDA is considering banning all nonprescription products containing ephedra. In fact, some states already have banned it.

There are foods that have poisonous parts. One example is rhubarb. The leaves are poisonous. Should the FDA ban rhubarb? It is ridiculous to think of the things that could disappear from our lives if everything that has harmed someone by their own wrong use of the substance was banned.

While conventional medical treatments are excellent and indispensable, herbs can have their place too. I am in no way suggesting that herbs can take the place of competent medical care by a licensed physician. No one should use herbs indiscriminately, just as no one should use over-the-counter drugs without knowing what they are for or how to take them. No one should attempt to diagnose their own medical problems. What I am suggesting is that herbs can be used in combination with adequate medical care.

My opinion is the FDA and other government agencies have enough control of our lives now. They are not handling the control they have in a way that is really protecting us.

God gave us free will. In God's opinion, we are smart enough to make our own decisions and accept responsibility for them. As far as I am aware, he has not turned that right over to the FDA. I would prefer not to turn it over to them either.