Canadian health authorities are warning public against using two unauthorized natural health products as they might cause serious health problems, resulting in death. The products are Life Choice Ephedrine HCL and Life Choice Kava Kava.
Health Canada is advising consumers who are using the products to stop doing so immediately and consult their health-care practitioner if they are concerned about their health.
"Consumers who have purchased these products should return them to the place of purchase," it said in a news release on Friday. "Health Canada is taking measures to prevent these products from entering the Canadian market."
Health Canada said Life Choice Ephedrine HCL contains an excessive amount of ephedrine, and when used alone or in combination with caffeine or other stimulants that enhance weight loss, body building, athletic performance and physical energy, may cause serious and potentially fatal health effects.
It said it has found that the product is contaminated with bacteria that could cause serious and irreversible health effects that could result in death. Individuals with a compromised immune system, infants, the elderly or those with an underlying disease or condition are particularly at risk.
It said consumers should not use ephedrine products for anything other than the approved purpose of nasal decongestion.
Health Canada said use of products containing ephedrine is not recommended in people with heart problems, hypertension, thyroid disease, diabetes, enlarged prostate, anxiety and restlessness, glaucoma (serious eye disorder) and pheochromocytoma (serious gland disorder) because ephedrine aggravates these conditions.
The products should also be avoided by pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
It said products that contain kava, including Life Choice Kava Kava, have been associated with serious liver dysfunction and the federal government has had a stop sale order in effect since August 2002.
Health Canada said individuals who have compromised liver function because of disease, age, or drug and alcohol abuse may be at particular risk of liver toxicity in connection with kava use.
It said kava use has also been associated with adverse health effects, including an itchy, scaly skin condition known as kava dermopathy, muscle weakness and co-ordination problems.
It said it has issued warnings about ephedrine products in 2005 and 2006 and about kava products in 2002 and 2003. Ephedrine
(EPH) is commonly used as a stimulant, appetite suppressant, concentration aid, decongestant, and to treat hypotension associated with anaesthesia.
Ephedrine is thought to be a key ingredient of many traditional herbal products in China and the production of ephedrine is a multi-million dollar export industry in that country.
Kava root (the only part of the plant that is used) is largely employed as a celebratory drink in places like Hawaii, but it is also considered a tranquilizer that helps ease anxiety, depression, and produce a restful sleep. Hence kava extract is marketed as herbal medicine against stress, insomnia, and anxiety.
Life Choices Natural Foods is a leading Canadian manufacturer of organic pizzas and the like.