A critical evaluation of internet marketing of products that contain ephedra

Bimal H. Ashar, Redonda G. Miller, Kelly J. Getz, Carmen P. Pichard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate information contained within Internet sites that advertise and market dietary supplements containing ephedra. Material and Methods: We conducted an Internet search to identify Web sites advertising weight-loss supplements that contained ephedra. Between July 7 and July 18, 2002, 4 search engines were used by entering the term herbal weight loss. Outcome measures included disclosure of potential adverse effects of or contraindications to ephedra-containing supplements, disclosure of ephedra alkaloid dosage, and presence of misleading or incorrect information. Results: Thirty-two products and advertisements were identified and systematically evaluated for deviance from truth-in-advertising standards. Of the 32 Web sites analyzed, 13 (41%) failed to disclose potential adverse effects or contraindications to supplement use. Seventeen (53 %) did not reveal the dosage of ephedra alkaloids that was recommended. More importantly, 11 sites (34%) contained incorrect or misleading statements, some of which could directly result in serious harm to consumers. Conclusion: If dietary supplements containing ephedra are to continue to be marketed freely, substantial reform in advertising regulation and enforcement is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-946
Number of pages3
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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