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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Mar;25(3):316-24.

An herbal supplement containing Ma Huang-Guarana for weight loss: a randomized, double-blind trial.

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Obesity Research Center, St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York 10025, USA.



To examine in overweight humans the short-term safety and efficacy for weight loss of an herbal supplement containing Ma Huang, Guarana and other ingredients.


An 8 week randomized, double-blind placebo controlled study of a herbal dietary supplement (72 mg/day ephedrine alkaloids and 240 mg/day caffeine).


Overweight men and women (body mass index, > or =29 and < or =35 kg/m2).


The primary outcome variable was body weight change. Secondary variables included anthropometric, metabolic and cardiovascular changes.


Sixty-seven subjects were randomized to either placebo (n=32) or active Ma Huang/Guarana (n=35). Twenty-four subjects in each group completed the study. Active treatment produced significantly (P<0.006) greater loss of weight (X+/-s.d.,-4.0+/-3.4 kg) and fat (-2.1+/-3.0% fat) over the 8-week treatment period than did placebo (-0.8+/-2.4 kg and 0.2+/-2.3% fat). Active treatment also produced greater reductions in hip circumference and serum triglyceride levels. Eight of the 35 actively treated subjects (23%) and none of the 32 placebo-treated control subjects withdrew from the protocol because of potential treatment-related effects. Dry mouth, insomnia and headache were the adverse symptoms reported most frequently by the herbal vs placebo group at the final evaluation visit.


This herbal mixture of Ma Huang and Guarana effectively promoted short-term weight and fat loss. Safety with long-term use requires further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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