ECA stack is a combination of ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin used as a stimulant and for weight loss. It is illegal in the United States and Canada due to significant health risks related to ephedrine. Taking it may cause moderate weight loss.
The U.S. FDA states that supplements containing ephedrine offer "modest, short-term weight loss without any clear health benefit." Boozer et al. wrote in both 2001 and 2002 that ECA stack supplements caused about 4.54 Kilogram of weight loss in obese patients over three months. According to FL Greenway writing in the scientific journal "Obesity Reviews," a review of scientific studies on the safety and effectiveness of dietery supplements containing a combination of caffeine and ephedrine revealed that they were about as effective as the weight loss drug Deithylpropion and more effective than dexfenfluramine. Greenway concludes that "the benefits of caffeine and ephedrine in treating obesity appear to outweigh the small associated risks."
The U.S. FDA states that ephedrine raises blood pressure and otherwise stresses the circulation system. It has also been linked to significant health problems, including heart attacks and death. According to CN Boozer, writing in the "International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders" in 2001, dry mouth, insomnia and headache were reported by participants taking a combination of ephedrine and guarana. In 2002, Boozer and colleagues also noted increased heart rate, dry mouth, heart burn and nausea. Aspirin can cause blood-clotting problems and easy bruising.
Many scientists disagree about whether ECA stack should be legal. FDA scientists believe the potential danger of ephedrine overdoses make it too risky to take. EL Greenway states in a review of more than 50 research studies on ephedrine-containing supplements that negative side effects were no more common than in placebos for the first four to 12 weeks of treatment. Boozer et al wrote that obesity is more dangerous than the risk of taking ECA stack, so ECA stack should be legal.
In the United States and Canada, it is not only illegal to produce supplements that contain ephedrine, it is also illegal to market such supplements. In the United States, ephedrine-containing products are illegal not only because of their health risks, but because they can be used as an ingredient in methamphetamine.
Talk to your doctor before taking ECA stack. Tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements you are taking along with ECA stack. Don't take ECA stack if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, insomnia or haemophilia. Don't take it if you are using blood thinners, stimulants or any medications to treat heart problems.
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- FDA Issues Regulation Prohibiting Sale of Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids and Reiterates Its Advice That Consumers Stop Using These Products; United States FDA; 2004
- The Safety and Efficacy of Pharmaceutical and Herbal Caffeine and Ephedrine Use as a Weight Loss Agent
- Herbal Ephedra/Caffeine for Weight Loss