September 2, 2008 12:55 pm

Health Canada warns against two natural health products

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OTTAWA – Health Canada is warning consumers who take two unauthorized natural health products to immediately stop doing so, saying they could cause serious health problems, even death.

Health Canada says it is taking steps to keep Life Choice Ephedrine HCL and Life Choice Kava Kava from entering the Canadian market.

Life Choice Ephedrine HCL contains an “excessive amount of ephedrine,” which when used alone or in combination with stimulants such as caffeine, could cause “potentially fatal adverse health effects,” Health Canada said in a release.

While Health Canada has been warning consumers about using products containing ephedra/ephedrine for anything other than nasal decongestion since 2005, the federal department says this particular product has also been contaminated with bacteria which itself could cause serious health problems.

Ephedrine is generally used for weight loss, body building, athletic performance or increased energy.

Kava is generally used to relieve anxiety, insomnia and menopause symptoms, but products containing it have been associated with serious liver dysfunction and, as a result Health Canada has had a stop-sale order in effect since August 2002.

In addition to liver toxicity, kava use has also been linked to an itchy, scaly skin condition known as kava dermopathy, muscle weakness and co-ordination problems.

Drugs and natural health products that are authorized for sale in Canada will have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), a Natural Product Number (NPN) or a Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. These numbers indicate that the products have been assessed by Health Canada for safety, effectiveness and quality.

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