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Multinutrient supplement containing ephedra and caffeine causes weight loss and improves metabolic risk factors in obese women: a randomized controlled trial



To determine the safety and efficacy of a dietary supplement with a low dose of ephedra and caffeine in overweight/obese premenopausal female subjects.


A 9-month, double-blind, randomized control study compared the efficacy and safety of a dietary supplement with ephedra and caffeine to a control supplement.


Sixty-one healthy, premenopausal women with body mass index (BMI) from 27 to 39 kg/m2 were randomly assigned and received a dietary supplement (40 mg/day ephedra alkaloids, 100 mg/day caffeine, high potency mixture of vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids) or a control supplement for 9 months.


Efficacy: changes in body weight, body composition, lipids, insulin, leptin, adiponectin, ghrelin, and self-reports of physical activity, diet and quality of life indices. Safety: blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiograms, urinalysis, blood histology, serum chemistry measures and self-reported symptoms.


Forty-one women completed the study. The treatment group lost significantly more body weight (−7.18 kg) and body fat (−5.33 kg) than the control group (−2.25 and −0.99 kg, respectively), and showed significant declines in heart rate, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein ratio, glucose, fasting insulin, and leptin. Blood pressure, electrocardiograms, other clinical chemistry measures, blood histology, urinalysis, and self-reported physical activity were similar in the groups. Minor symptoms included dry mouth, insomnia, nervousness and palpitations. The treatment group reported more energy and decreased appetite compared to controls and scored higher on a quality of life domain assessing vitality.


A dietary supplement containing a low potency ephedra/caffeine mixture appeared safe and effective in causing loss of weight and body fat, and improving several metabolic parameters, including insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles when tested under physician supervision. Such supplements could be a useful tool to assist with weight loss.

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We thank Kimberley Hansen BS for her clinical skills and Kimber Stanhope and James Graham for their technical assistance with the endocrine assays. The study was supported in part by an unrestricted gift from AdvoCare International, LP, Carrollton, TX.

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Correspondence to R M Hackman.

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Hackman, R., Havel, P., Schwartz, H. et al. Multinutrient supplement containing ephedra and caffeine causes weight loss and improves metabolic risk factors in obese women: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes 30, 1545–1556 (2006).

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  • (MeSH) ephedra
  • weight loss
  • dietary supplement
  • lipids
  • insulin
  • leptin

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