Good news on ephedra-free weight loss products

They don’t contain ephedra.

This might seem intuitive, but with supplements you can’t be sure until you test.
So, 29 dietary supplements labeled “ephedra-free” were purchased from stores in San Francisco and sent to the California Department of Health Services, Food and Drug Laboratory for content analysis.

The good news

  • None of these ephedra-free products contained ephedra alkaloids.


  • Heavy metals were detected in 3 of the products.
  • Manufacturers are replacing ephedra with caffeine, synephrine, and botanical sources of ephedra.

With respect to caffeine content in weight loss products, an earlier study by the same researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that caffeine content varies between 86% and 110% compared to what is stated on the label.

Probably not that significant for the “average” person, but it depends on your health and ability to tolerate the stimulatory effects of caffeine.

Remember, caffeine is almost everywhere, and it’s the total daily intake that counts.

The caffeine content in a range of products (including decaf coffee!!) was summarized here. For example,

  • Starbucks’ brewed decaffeinated coffee: 12 to 13 mg per 16-ounce serving
  • A can of Coca Cola: about 31 mg

As little as 10 mg of caffeine can produce subjective and behavioral effects in sensitive people.

1/12/07 20:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.