A federal judge allowed a nationwide ban on ephedra, a key ingredient in many dietary supplements, to take effect this week. Ephedra was enormously popular among Americans looking to lose weight or build muscle until the amphetaminelike herb was linked to 155 deaths, including that of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, last year. The Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra sales in December. Manufacturers fought the ban in court, arguing that ephedra was perfectly safe when used as directed. But the judge rejected their challenge. “These products pose unacceptable health risks,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. “Any consumers who are still using them should stop immediately.”
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