HearPhyto - A Podcast about Ephedra

October 15, 2019 1 Comment

HearPhyto - A Podcast about Ephedra

David Jones 0:02
Welcome to Hear Phyto. A podcast about herbs. Eh, it's mostly about herbs

Jeanine Adinaro 0:06
Hear Phyto is what happens when you take one herb nerd, and one podcast enthusiast, and give them microphones. We're both herb loving acupuncturists who hear a lot of bad information about herbs.

David Jones 0:17
So in each episode, we're going to try and tease the good from the bad about one herb or supplement. I'm Jeanine. And I'm Dave. This is Hear Phyto.

All right, everybody. Welcome to Hear Phyto, a podcast about plants. Today we're talking about

Jeanine Adinaro 0:41

David Jones 0:42
So this is... so Jeanine and I are both acupuncturists. And when you start learning about Chinese herbs, the first herb,

Jeanine Adinaro 0:51
very first herb

David Jones 0:52
that you learn about in Chinese medicine is ephedra, and

Jeanine Adinaro 0:58
in Chinese called

David Jones 0:59
Ma Huang, which means yellow hemp, not to be confused with Da Ma, which is big hemp, which is marijuana. This is Ma Huang, yellow hemp.

Jeanine Adinaro 1:10
And it's sort of ironic that it's the first herb that's taught to American herbal students

David Jones 1:16
Tell me why it's ironic

Jeanine Adinaro 1:17
Because it's not used in the United States.

David Jones 1:19
This is like, is it rain on your wedding day, ironic?

Jeanine Adinaro 1:21
I don't know. I think this actually might be ironic, or just an unfortunate waste of time, because it is not used in the United States.

David Jones 1:28
And we're going to talk about that a little bit later as to why it's not used. But you want to talk a little bit about the plant itself first?

Jeanine Adinaro 1:36
I do. Well I want you to talk about the plant itself because you're the plant guy.

David Jones 1:40
Well, it's a, it's a fascinating plant. Jeanine, what do you think people want to know about ephedra?

Jeanine Adinaro 1:45
Well, they're listening to us, they'd probably like to know what it's used for in Chinese medicine.

David Jones 1:51
All right, well, that's a good place to start. So when you start studying Chinese medicine, one of the first categories of formulas that you start putting together are for things like cold and flu, especially things that are where chills predominate.

Jeanine Adinaro 2:06

David Jones 2:07
And most of those formulas have Ma Huang in them, they have this ephedra in them, and it is not because, you know, the idea is to make you more stimulated, because that's one of the things that ephedra can do. And that's part of the problem and why it's illegal. But because it warms you up. It is definitely that is one of the things for sure that it does. And it can act as a bronchodilator. So it can make breathing a little bit easier, like for people who have asthma, or if you've got a bronchial infection. And so that's why that gets used. And those formulas tend to, like one of the first formulas that you learn is what Ma Huang Tang. It's literally like, if.....

Jeanine Adinaro 2:49
Oh, I love that you think I still remember anything about herb formulas. The fact that I remember anything about single herbs is kind of an accomplishment.

David Jones 2:56
Well, that's one of the....

Jeanine Adinaro 2:57
But I will say that when we learned herbs in school, part of the way that I would remember these random sounds, which is when you don't speak Mandarin, and they give you herb names in Mandarin, it just becomes a string of random sound, I would kind of do these little stories in my head to try to help remember these herbs. And the story in my head had like a little kid under a bunch of covers in Siberia with a bad cold. And this was the herb tea that her grandma gave her. And for whatever reason, my little story did not take place in China. It took place in Russia.

David Jones 3:38
I learned the Chinese and the characters.

Jeanine Adinaro 3:40
Yeah, I know, because you're way more of an herb nerd. To me, they were always still just random sounds that didn't mean anything.

David Jones 3:47
Do you remember the single herb Che Qian Zi?

Jeanine Adinaro 3:50

David Jones 3:51
So it's the plantago seed, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 3:54
I know that it's a seed.

David Jones 3:56
It's used to increase urination. But Che Qian Zi literally means "the before the horse cart plant,"

Jeanine Adinaro 4:03

David Jones 4:04
Which just means that it's something that grows along the sides of roads, like it's a pioneer plant and disturbed areas. Right? And so like when you learn the Chinese for these things, you pick up a little bit about like the common names of things. I mean, common names of plants, very often have nothing to do with the plants themselves. Remember the plant outside my house that you were like, "oh, I've never seen that flower. What's it called?" Bear's britches.

Jeanine Adinaro 4:30
Doesn't look like a bear, or the pants that a bear would wear.

David Jones 4:34
I don't even know anything about bear pants. But....

Jeanine Adinaro 4:36
....you gotta have a little hole for the tale.

David Jones 4:37
I would imagine you would. Depending on what kind of bear. Do all bears have tales?

Jeanine Adinaro 4:42
I always think of it. There's a little stubby tails. I don't know.

David Jones 4:47

Jeanine Adinaro 4:48
Anyway, let's return to ephedra. So ephedra gets used for coughs and colds that are characterized by chills and being cold. And I remember it's also used for coughing where the what's your if you do have like you're coughing up crap out of your lungs. It's white. It's not nasty yellow infected stuff, it's white.

David Jones 5:16
So pretty much common cold.

Jeanine Adinaro 5:17

David Jones 5:18
It's pretty much common cold. That's what it gets used for. And the thing I'll tell you, before I became an herbalist, this would have been in the late 80s, early 90s. I was just out of college and I was working in a restaurant. And there was an herb shop about a block away from the restaurant. And every once in a while, and so what I would do is I would go and I would buy like a handful of ephedra and a bunch of other herbs and brew them up into this very strong nasty tea, and then sell that to the, and it wasn't really selling it was more like people contributing to the pot for the money that took, but it was a very stimulating, I put a bunch of stimulants in it and a bunch of relaxants in it. And so this tea had the sort of effect of you could get through a really long, hard shift waiting tables with a lot of enthusiasm.

Jeanine Adinaro 6:13
I had no idea that your history with experimenting with herbs on people went back so far.

David Jones 6:19
So and here's the other thing too is it actually goes back even further because in the mid 80s, before any of the regulations on ephedra came by I also was working in a restaurant during college, except I decided that it would be a good idea to buy an enormous, to invest, in an enormous bottle of 1000 what they call white crosses. White crosses are ephedrine pills that you would buy in the back of women's magazines that were sold for weight loss, but they were also very stimulating. And then what I would do is sell them to other waiters and bussers for 50 cents a tablet when it costs me like a penny a tablet.

Jeanine Adinaro 6:59
I had no idea, that your herbal entrepreneurship went back so far in history. Yeah, this is like a whole new side of your history.

David Jones 7:08
And the thing is, they all thought that they were illegal drugs.

Jeanine Adinaro 7:15
They thought they were buying crank.

David Jones 7:17
They thought they were buying speed. I did not disabuse them of this. But they were like, "yeah, I'll take three." I'm like, "great. It's a buck 50."

Jeanine Adinaro 7:25
I had no idea.

David Jones 7:30
So anyway, yes. Right. So I have, I well, I currently do not sell any products with ephedra in them or make them. I used to.

Jeanine Adinaro 7:39
You have a history of it. I had no idea when I when I pitched this topic to you

David Jones 7:45
That I had a history?

Jeanine Adinaro 7:46
Let's do ephedra! I had no idea you had this history. Alright, so as usual, use of herbs in traditional Chinese medicine- kind of boring. Where else does it show up culturally? Like what other places does ephedra show up?

David Jones 8:02
Well, so ephedra has a long history in the United States. So we're talking about the ephedra that was used in Chinese medicine, we're going to have to get into a little bit of taxonomy now. Right? So ephedra is the genus. It's the sort of general... Did you you want to do something interesting? And because I think that this would be a much better way to teach this, but for some reason, it doesn't get taught this way. When you learn taxonomy, in school, you learn that there is a genus and species you learn - Kings play chess on finding green sand, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 8:34
I went to public school in Texas, I think...

David Jones 8:36
But what you learned you had Kingdom, Phylum, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 8:39
I remember Kingdom- plants, animal, fungus, right? Where are we supposed to put viruses? Nobody knows.

David Jones 8:47
But here's the thing is that you learn that there's a genus and you learn that there's a species, okay. Yeah. But, but if they would have taught that genus just means General, and species just means specific. Anyway, so you've got this. You've got general and you've got specific and for cases with the general term for this group of plants is ephedra. And then the specific plant that we're talking about with Chinese medicine is the Chinese version, which they use the word sinica, right? Like Sino-American relations, right. So ephedra sinica is the stuff that's used for Chinese medicine. But when we get over here to the United States, there are two other species of ephedra that grow in the Intermountain West. One is now nevadensis, which you can find in Nevada, and other places with crappy soil and lots of sun. And then there's viridis, which that just comes from the Latin for green. And you find viridis at higher elevations and further north, and it stays green, where the other ones get yellow because of the climate. Now, the species of ephedra that grow here in North America, don't have any ephedrine in in them.

Jeanine Adinaro 10:07
None at all?

David Jones 10:08
Some of them might have low levels of pseudoephedrine.

Jeanine Adinaro 10:12
That's the stuff you make speed out of, right?

David Jones 10:14
You can. So here's so do you want to talk a little bit ephedrine and psuedoephedrine?

Jeanine Adinaro 10:18
Yeah, sure, sure. But don't fall too far down the chemistry rabbit hole

David Jones 10:22
Ephedrine is a stimulant. It's something that sort of mimics the effect of our sympathetic nervous system our fight or flight, right. So that's ephedrine. So it's going to act as a vasoconstrictor, it's going to increase your blood pressure. It's going to decrease your hunger because it's really no use eating when you're being chased by a lion.

Jeanine Adinaro 10:42
You shut down your digestive system.

David Jones 10:45
Right, so that's what ephedrine does. But the way .... Sudafed, right, so Sudafed, very common thing you can buy over the counter

Jeanine Adinaro 10:55
That's pseudoephedrine?

David Jones 10:56
Actually, I don't know. Can you buy it over the counter anymore? Or do you have to have a pharmacist?

Jeanine Adinaro 11:00
It is available without a prescription. Which is what over the counter means. You have to get it from the pharmacist not because the pharmacist is doing anything to approve its appropriateness for your condition. They are recording how much of it you buy. Okay, so at least in Texas, you swipe your driver's license.

David Jones 11:20
Uh huh.

Jeanine Adinaro 11:20
On the keypad where the credit card goes, it'll read the barcode off of it. And what they're doing is they're recording how much of it you buy. So you can't... they're trying to prevent you from hopping around to every pharmacy in the city and pick it up two boxes at each and at the end of the day having 50 boxes, right? Like if you do that, then you're going to get somebody authoritative probably knocking at your door.

David Jones 11:46
So the pseudoephedrine and ephedrine have exactly the same number of carbons, hydrogens, nitrogen, the like the chemical formula, like you know how you write out formulas like H2O2, stuff like that. So if you looked at

Jeanine Adinaro 12:01
Oh wait, I know that one. That's hydrogen peroxide, right?

David Jones 12:04

Jeanine Adinaro 12:04
Hey I got one!

David Jones 12:05
So if you looked at ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in that kind of notation style, they would look identical. And so the difference is, something called chirality? Right? So they're

Jeanine Adinaro 12:17
You're just making stuff up now

David Jones 12:18
No, like, you know what, chira comes from the same stems chiropractor, somebody works with their hands. So chirality refers to hands because your hands are a mirror image of each other. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are what's called stereoisomers, which they are mirror images. So they, they work in similar ways. But because there are mirror images, they're not quite the same, even though they have the same numbers of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen.

Jeanine Adinaro 12:19
So Mormon tea has pseudoephi.... Is it pseudo-EPH-edrine or pseudoe-PHE-drine?

David Jones 12:50
Pseuodoephedrine and maybe only very low levels. So it's not like Mormon tea is not super stimulating. The Mormons obviously use it, but they're not the only ones. It also was called squa-tea because the Native Americans used it. But it was also at one point called whorehouse tea, because apparently, prostitutes would use it, but you know why prostitutes used it?

Jeanine Adinaro 13:19
Because they ran out of cocaine? I don't know.

David Jones 13:21
I don't know that cocaine was big in the, you know, the what

Jeanine Adinaro 13:25
in the 1800s It was huge. It was huge.

David Jones 13:28
Anyway. Um, no, because ephedra tea was supposed to cure syphilis.

Jeanine Adinaro 13:39
Did it work?

David Jones 13:40
Well, here's the thing is, you know, cures stage one, syphilis?

Jeanine Adinaro 13:44


David Jones 13:44


Jeanine Adinaro 13:45


David Jones 13:45
Syphilis.... everything. You know, here's syphilis,

Jeanine Adinaro 13:49

David Jones 13:50

Jeanine Adinaro 13:50

David Jones 13:51
Because syphilis is a three stage disease. And the first two stages are self-remitting. So if you will find a lot of times that if you look in like older books and stuff, that this herb is good for syphilis, and it's because they threw every time anyone was like, oh, here take this, they used to give people mercury to cure syphilis.

Jeanine Adinaro 14:02
That doesn't work?

David Jones 14:13
Well, the syphilis went away, but you got a whole other host of problems.

Jeanine Adinaro 14:16
Mercury poisoning

David Jones 14:17
The syphilus would have gone away anyway. And so nowadays, you can take care of syphilis with antibiotics with a little bit of penicillin will take care of that. But it used to be thought that that's why it was called whorehouse tea. And so you've got these species that grow here in the United States. But if you're thinking about maybe... Oh, we were talking about epedrine and psuedoephedrine. But a lot of people may have heard, and the reason why there is this prohibition on buying it, or they're a little bit more careful about how they sell it, is because people take it, and they use it as a precursor to make methamphetamine

Jeanine Adinaro 14:52
You're talking about pseudoephedrine?

David Jones 14:54
Pseudoephedrine. And I was showing the sort of the carbon skeleton of those two things, Jeanine, earlier, and

Jeanine Adinaro 15:02
Yeah, my response was "Oh, pretty picture."

David Jones 15:04
There is a, all you really, all you have to do is taken an oxygen and hydrogen off of ephedrine, and you have methamphetamine

Jeanine Adinaro 15:14
And then it's PARTY TIME.

David Jones 15:16
Well, not for me.

Jeanine Adinaro 15:18
Not for me either.

David Jones 15:19
So anyway, that is a pretty quick little rundown. Ephedrine it can be used as a stimulant. It's not used that way in herbal medicine. But because of its use as a stimulant...

Jeanine Adinaro 15:35
You're skipping over the manufacture and sale of, what did you call them? Your white cross

David Jones 15:41
White crosses. Yeah.

Jeanine Adinaro 15:42
What were those white crosses supposed to be for? For weight loss. It was quite the craze. I don't know. Like, how far back I found reports going back to the 1800s of supplement manufacturers, manufacturing products marketed as weight loss products, just generically. Not just, not just ephedra containing products, but just products in general, about losing weight. So it would appear that since human beings found mirrors, they've been obsessed with trying to lose weight. I don't know how far back that phenomenon goes. But in the 80s, it got to be a big thing, supplement manufacturers started putting ephedra into weight loss products. And then it really picked up steam in the 90s. Now, can you speak to why it's effective, at least as a short term weight loss, like talk about the biology of it?

David Jones 16:35
Well, it makes you pee

Jeanine Adinaro 16:38
It's a diuretic,

David Jones 16:39
So you're going to lose some weight there.

Jeanine Adinaro 16:41
Got your water weight gain under control.

David Jones 16:43
So you'll be nice and dehydrated. Before you go play sports. So you've got that part. Also, like I said earlier, it makes you not hungry.

Jeanine Adinaro 16:53
Right? It suppresses your appetite.

David Jones 16:55
So you're not going to eat as much.

Jeanine Adinaro 16:57
It also interferes with your thermal regulation.

David Jones 17:01
And that I think is interesting, because....

Jeanine Adinaro 17:03
makes you run hotter.

David Jones 17:05
It makes you run hot. But this is one of those examples where animal studies don't necessarily translate over into human studies, because the thermal regulation effect that it provided in rats showed a really significant weight loss. But it was because they were burning what's called brown fat.

Jeanine Adinaro 17:26
What's brown fat?

David Jones 17:27
So brown fat is a kind of fat that you find more in human babies and hibernating animals. It's got a lot of blood vessels, and it's involved in temperature regulation. And this is why sometimes you will find in people who get lost in snowstorms with a baby, the baby actually does fine because they got this kind of energy that literally does keep them warm. But rats have a different amount of brown fat in them. And this ephedra helps them burn more brown fat as a percentage of the white fat, the sort of normal fat that we have as humans. And so when you look at that study, it'd be like rats lost this much weight on ephedra. Well, yeah, because they're burning a kind of fat that we don't have. So this is part of the danger of using animal studies is because they're not humans, they're rats. And if you want to put rats on a diet and make them lose weight real fast and ephedrine be great,

Jeanine Adinaro 18:25
Right, so there is a short term weight loss effect of using ephedra mostly from the diuretic, but it definitely messes with your thermo regulation, which leads us into how it came to pass, if you missed the spoilers up until this point, it is no longer legal in the United States to sell products containing How do you say it?ephedrine? rhymes with amphetamine?

David Jones 18:53
Hey, Jeanine, this might be a good time to talk about our sponsor.

Jeanine Adinaro 18:56
Waaait? We have a sponsor?

David Jones 18:59
Well, I mean, don't you think it's time we should come cleaned all the nice people listening?

Jeanine Adinaro 19:04
Probably. Yeah. So Hear Phyto is like an extra credit project for us. Because our day jobs are running a small herb company you might know as Herbalogic.

David Jones 19:15
This is just a tricky way to sell stuff, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 19:18
NOOO.... as much as we like to sell stuff, which is a lot. We also want to clear up some myths and misconceptions about herbs, which is the main goal of this project. But we figured it wouldn't hurt to plug the website. So you want to do the plug?

David Jones 19:34
Yeah, yeah, here it is. So if you're interested in seeing what we do for a day jobs, go to Herbalogic.com, that's H-E-R-B-A-L-O-G-I-C. And call to action.

Jeanine Adinaro 19:44

David Jones 19:45
Yeah, you're supposed to end a commercial with a pithy call to action.

Jeanine Adinaro 19:48
You mean like, hey, buy our stuff?

David Jones 19:50
Well, I mean, sure. That's a little on the nose. But we can go with that. Oh, yeah. And if you enter in this discount code, you get 10%. Off.

Jeanine Adinaro 19:58

David Jones 20:00
Anyway, so the theme that we keep getting on here is warms, thermal regulator, gets rid of brown fat. Thermo regulator, warms you up from the chills. Thermo regulator, probably not a good idea to use it if you're chopping, you know, your way through the Amazon. The Amazon's hot in my imagination, the Amazon's hot for this one.

Jeanine Adinaro 20:25
I think, sure, we'll go with that.

So ephedra really ramps up in popularity in supplements for weight loss, including the ones that you were apparently hustling in the 90s. And when you use ephedra regularly, and in particular circumstances, which you alluded to, it can have some really unfortunate health consequences. And in the world of supplements, and drugs, those are called adverse reactions. So you don't want them at the sort of low end of the scale. Insomnia is one of the things that can happen when you take ephedrine or ephedra containing products. And at the kind of other end of the spectrum, you have cardiac arrest and stroke and death.

David Jones 21:19
So what's the mechanism behind the death part?

Jeanine Adinaro 21:21
And there's a couple different ones. But one of them is because with like with the cardiac arrest and the stroke, the ephedrine causes vasoconstriction, causes your blood vessels to tense up

David Jones 21:38
Which increases your blood pressure?

Jeanine Adinaro 21:39
Increases your blood pressure. And if you can have one of these people who already has high blood pressure, you're probably a good candidate for a stroke anyway. And then you do take something that ups the ante on that, then you just sort of asking for problems.

David Jones 21:55
So is this also a blood thinner, it's not really a blood thinner?

This is just you going to have a lot more pressure on the walls of your,

Jeanine Adinaro 21:59
No, not a blood thinner.

David Jones 22:02
of your veins and arteries.

And this is not an uncommon thing for other stimulants. And it's not an uncommon thing, this is what happens when you get a shot of adrenaline. When you're scared your blood pressure is going to go up. Because you want to make sure that blood goes everywhere you need it and now.

Jeanine Adinaro 22:24
Right. Well, okay, so one of the things that happens because it messes with your thermal regulation is you have this inability to regulate your body temperature. And if you are in a place that is hot, and especially a place that is humid, so sweating does you no good, right, because the sweat won't evaporate, you don't get that evaporative cooling thing going on for you. You know, think Florida. One of the things that commonly happens in hot humid climates is people get heat exhaustion.

David Jones 22:51
So that's like heatstroke, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 22:52
No- it's two different things. They're kind of, it's again, this is like that genus species thing. Same genus, different species. So, heat exhaustion is where you start from, when your body starts to kind of lose control of keeping a handle on your body temperature, like you have a fever, right. But in this case, it's not from having a virus or bacteria. Instead it's from, it's just too hot, and your body can't keep your temperature where it needs to be. So you start to get a little bit of fever, you get a little dizzy, you start to feel generally disgusting, you might start vomiting, right and especially if you're dehydrated, that's all going to happen a lot faster. If that keeps going and your body temperature continues to go up, the next stage is heat stroke, and the medical definition of where that line between heat exhaustion and heat stroke is based on body temperature. And when you cross 104 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a rectal thermometer, then you're in heatstroke territory. And the other thing that happens when you get heat stroke is your body temperature has gotten so high that you start to have organ damage and brain damage. And if it's left untreated, you eventually end up dead.

David Jones 24:06
So what's the treatment for heat exhaustion?

Jeanine Adinaro 24:10
Get the person's body temperature back down. And that's for heat stroke as well but it with heat stroke and trying to mitigate the organ damage.

David Jones 24:17
So do you put them in ice water?

Jeanine Adinaro 24:19
Okay, so if you put them in ice water, you run the risk of sending them into shock.

David Jones 24:23
I would think so, yeah.

Jeanine Adinaro 24:24
So don't maybe do that. But better shock than heat stroke.

David Jones 24:27
Are you saying I shouldn't take medical advice from movies?

Jeanine Adinaro 24:29
Probably not.

David Jones 24:30
Because I think movie-Dave would put someone who has heat stroke in ice water.

Jeanine Adinaro 24:35
That's Oh, that's one of those. What is that creepy movie with that creepy guy. All right, I'm not gonna remember. But there is a rather dramatic scene where he's got a fever, but he's sick and they put them into a bath of ice water. And somehow magically, it cures him instead of throwing him into shock but whatever. It doesn't matter. We'll just cut all that out. And right. So for someone with heat exhaustion, you want to get them to a cool place like air temperature cooler, less humidity.

David Jones 25:04
Oh, you mean not like an art space?

Jeanine Adinaro 25:05
No, no, not a cool hip art space. No, like, air conditioned.

David Jones 25:11
I don't understand the mechanism.

Jeanine Adinaro 25:12
Oh, that'll just kill you faster.

David Jones 25:14
The aesthetics of this place are amazing. I'm feeling better already.

Jeanine Adinaro 25:16
All right. I'm gonna tell my story, my heat exhaustion story. So when I was a little kid, like going to summer camp, I got heat exhaustion every single year. And so I was always in the nurse's station. But it never got that bad. It was always just like, okay, she needs to lay down the air conditioning kind of thing. Take cool shower.

David Jones 25:33
Did your parents not like you? What did they send you to extra hot camp?

Jeanine Adinaro 25:35
I loved. I love summer camp, though, despite the heat exhaustion.

I don't know the nurse was really nice. Maybe it was because of the heat exhaustion. I don't know. But anyway, as a teenager, it was right after I graduated from high school. So I'm living in San Antonio. It's August. It's kind of hot in August. And at the time I was dating this guy who was in the SCA. You know that?

David Jones 26:02
Wait. Wai-wai-wait. Is that the Society of Creative Anachronism?

Jeanine Adinaro 26:06
Yes, it is.

David Jones 26:07
That's nerds.

Jeanine Adinaro 26:09
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Super is, right.

David Jones 26:12
That's like people who are willing to be nerds in public.

Jeanine Adinaro 26:15
Right. You get dressed up in armor and go to a park and whack at each other with foam swords. Yeah. Right. So, I went to one of these events and I'm, I'm sure was wearing like some darkly colored heavyweight dress, like it was supposed to be like an old medieval kind of thing. You know what they would have worn in cold, medieval England, but I was wearing in August in San Antonio.

David Jones 26:42
Jeanine was early to the goth scene

Jeanine Adinaro 26:43
I was, we'll have to to talk about my makeup choices at some point. When I was in high school, it was not good. So we go out we do this event and despite the fact that I had been drinking water still got heat exhaustion, and some very well intentioned but slightly clueless SCA member scooped me up, I think it was the boyfriend, had turned on his car and you know crank the air conditioning got in the car cooled down and this guy tries to pick me up and put me in the car and like smacks my head on the door jamb on the way in. So yeah, compound the problems.

David Jones 27:17
What was he- Fezzik? You killed my father, prepare to die.

Jeanine Adinaro 27:21
No, that's Inigo.

Jeanine Adinaro 27:22
Fezzik is the one "Don't worry, I will not go to my head." right. Very sweet, big, gentle giant anyway. So boyfriend gets me back to my parents house. You know, I'm in the air conditioning, they tried to put me in the cool bath. And at this point, though, like we've already crossed into the vomiting and the vomiting just keeps happening. And every time they give me water, I throw it back up. And my parents are big believers in the just rub some dirt in it philosophy of medicine.

David Jones 27:52
Shake it off?

Jeanine Adinaro 27:53
Shake it off, just walk it off, play through the pain. So now as a parent, if my child was vomiting uncontrollably, and obviously had a fever, I would take my child for emergency medical attention. This is a situation that called for an IV, if I had ever heard of one. That is not my parents way.

David Jones 28:15
Like some cold saline solution?

Jeanine Adinaro 28:17
No like...

David Jones 28:18
Directly IV

Jeanine Adinaro 28:20
Right, like that's probably what I should have had. Right? But no, they call the doctor like the family doctor who called in a prescription, which at that time in San Antonio, there was only 1, 24 hour pharmacy all the way on the other side of town. And it was a big deal because it was Sunday. So like somebody had to go to the other side of town to get this prescription suppository to get me to stop throwing up, right. Meanwhile, I'm delirious like, they're trying to put ice packs on me and I'm like throwing them off of me. And it was just a disaster.

David Jones 28:51
Little do you know, that to cure your delirium, something's gonna have to go up your butt.

Jeanine Adinaro 28:54
Exactly, exactly.

Whether or not that was heat exhaustion or heat stroke, I couldn't say because nobody ever thought to use a thermometer to take my temperature, either orally or rectally. Like no, but I don't think there was a working thermometer in that house. Right?

David Jones 29:11
Did your parents have any children that lived?

Jeanine Adinaro 29:14
Just me. No, I got a sister too, she lived. But I haven't talked about my six brothers and sisters. No. So returning to ephedra and the tale of woe, that is about to descend upon the makers of diet pill manufacturers using ephedra

David Jones 29:29
Is it a tale of woe, that involves a three letter federal agency?

Jeanine Adinaro 29:32
It is. It involves the Food and Drug Administration. You gotta kinda remember, like, there was this period of time where the courts had decided that supplements were not drugs, sort of, but not really.

David Jones 29:49
When was this? Yeah,

Jeanine Adinaro 29:51
it's like from 1936 to 1994. Anyway, so in 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act is passed. And that finally puts into context supplements. And so now the FDA says, Okay, there are there are these different categories, there's, well, there's cosmetics, there's food, there's drugs, and there's this other stuff we call supplements. And that's where all of our

David Jones 30:20
So say it again, it's the dietary...

Jeanine Adinaro 30:22
The dietary supplement Health Act of 1994.

David Jones 30:25
Otherwise known as....

Jeanine Adinaro 30:26
DESHA. So with their freshly minted ability to regulate supplements,

David Jones 30:33
Mmm- hmm. Did they use their powers for good?

Jeanine Adinaro 30:36
They tried. In 1997, the FDA tried to place a limited ban on ephedra. And they wanted to ban products that contained more than eight milligrams of ephedra per dose. And they also wanted a warning label on products containing ephedra that people you know, some sort of language about like, hey, if you've hypertension, don't take this, right, something in that vein.

David Jones 31:06
So wait a minute, the FDA basically said, Hey, here's this thing. We think if it's used properly, it's not really going to cause any problems, but it can be used improperly. And it would be worthwhile for the American people to know that improper use of it can be deadly.

Jeanine Adinaro 31:24
Yes, I would say that's a pretty fair summary of what was going on.

David Jones 31:29
You know, the FDA gets a lot of flack. But that seems like a pretty reasonable stance to take.

Jeanine Adinaro 31:33
It does seem pretty reasonable. But the Ephedra Education Council, which was a lobbying group, they, in combination with some of the manufacturers of these ephedra containing supplements beat back that potential regulatory change. And in 2000, the FDA withdrew their attempts to regulate.

David Jones 31:55
Just threw up their hands up and gave up.

Jeanine Adinaro 31:57
Kinda, yeah. Meanwhile during that time, from, you know, 97 to 2000, when they were really trying to put some regulations in place, they start investigating companies that are making products with ephedra. And specifically, they investigated a company called Metabolife and ask them, have you received any complaints from customers of adverse reactions. And in 1998, the president of the company at the time, a man named Michael Ellis said in an official statement to the FDA that the company had, quote, never received one notice from a customer of any serious adverse health event that has occurred because of the ingestion of Metabolife 356, which was their product, their big flagship weight loss product,

David Jones 32:46
I'm sort of getting the idea that he might have been

Jeanine Adinaro 32:50
Not truthful?

David Jones 32:51
Not truthful.

Jeanine Adinaro 32:52
It turns out that they had in fact received something in the neighborhood of 14,000 complaints.

David Jones 32:59
You know, it's easy to lose track of 14,000, something.

Jeanine Adinaro 33:01
Between zero and 14,000. And about 80 of those complaints mentioned serious injury or death, and about somewhere between one and 200 of those complaints mentioned hospitalization. So it wasn't just 14,000 complaints of insomnia. There was some very serious adverse reactions, and the company knew about it, and they were covering it up. Anyway, I will, spoiler on that one, in 2008, Michael Ellis, who made that official claim to the FDA was sentenced to six months in federal prison for lying to the FDA.

David Jones 33:39
Six months doesn't seem like, it doesn't seem like that bad. You think well, you know, what if it? I don't know.

Jeanine Adinaro 33:43
I don't know. I don't want to go to federal prison for anytime. So...

David Jones 33:46
Yeah, I don't either. But....

Jeanine Adinaro 33:47
Meanwhile, so a couple of very high profile deaths happened to professional athletes that are related to ephedra. So in July of 2001, on day two of the preseason training, Corey Stringer, who was an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings died of heatstroke. He actually got heatstroke on day two. And then day three, he actually died. He spent the first day of this preseason training, very sick, vomiting frequently. His wife reports that when she talked to him that night, he lost, during the course of the day, so in about a 12 hour span, had lost six pounds. Right? So he's like, lost all fluids.

David Jones 34:35
That weight loss drug works.

Jeanine Adinaro 34:37
So on the second day of training, his coach actually kind of ridiculed him for throwing up the day before and this sort of like, you know,

David Jones 34:47
So they weren't taking it seriously?

Jeanine Adinaro 34:49
No, they were not taking it seriously. And so the second day, when he actually passed out on the field, there was a whole lot of not serious taking. And in that particular case, there was two bottles of a supplement found in his locker that contained ephedra but there was no in the post mortem autopsy there was no ephedra in his or ephedrine found in his system. So, okay, since the Minnesota Vikings handled the situation so badly, and I won't go into all the details, but basically they didn't give him the appropriate medical treatment when they should have given him medical treatment, which contributed to his death. And that really was what sucked up the media spotlight. But not too long after this incident, completely coincidentally, the NFL ban ephedra use by its players

David Jones 35:35
Completely coincidence?

Jeanine Adinaro 35:41
Completely coincidence.

David Jones 35:43
Okay. It's a good coincidence I suppose

Jeanine Adinaro 35:45
In February of 2003, now we're gonna switch to baseball for a minute, in February 2003, a prospective pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, Steve Betchler, died at spring training, in Florida. And in that particular case, the post mortem autopsy did show ephedrine, as well as pseudoephedrine and caffeine in his system. And in that case, the medical examiner was willing to go out on a limb and was quoted as saying, "It is my professional opinion that the toxicity of ephedra played a significant role in the death of Mr. Betchler, although it's impossible to define mathematically the contribution of each one of the factors in his unfortunate death due to heat stroke." But at that point, you've a medical examiner saying yeah, this is at least contributory. Right. And ultimately, the death due to heatstroke was due to the oppressive heat and humidity and his body's inability to maintain its temperature.

David Jones 36:44
Do you think if they had spring training in Saskatchewan, it would have been different?

Jeanine Adinaro 36:47
It would have been a totally different you know, it's like when you look at the risk factors for heat exhaustion and then developing into heatstroke, one of those risk factors is being overweight, you know, and if you're taking a supplement, for its diet properties, weight loss properties, chances are pretty good that it's because you're overweight. So it's like, you know, there's there's a lot of risk factors, but that was one that was very much highlighted in the media. So at this point, America's thrown into a tizzy. And even Orrin Hatch, who had just you know, five years before said, Oh, we don't really have enough science to support these regulations on ephedra and, you know, limiting dosages and labeling. Even he at this point reversed his course. So in December 2003, the FDA issued a press release telling people to stop taking ephedra. They said it's not safe in any quantity. And in April of 2004, the FDA banned the sale of ephedra containing supplements all together. But we're not done. So, the Nutraceutical Corporation in Utah, one of the makers, they filed suit saying that the FDA had overstepped their bounds, even though they claim they were not going to start making products with ephedra again, they were afraid of the precedent that it was setting. And so they ....

David Jones 38:05
What, people dying? That's not a, that's not a precedent to be afraid of.

Jeanine Adinaro 38:11
So a US District Court judge in Utah agreed with them and they overturned the ban. But then..

David Jones 38:18
What? So hold on, hold on wait, go back, go back because I think I was lost in the dates in the everything.

Jeanine Adinaro 38:24
So 2004

David Jones 38:27
The Neutracutical Corporation

Jeanine Adinaro 38:29
Yes. They filed a suit against the FDA claiming the FDA had overstepped its bounds by banning this, banning ephedra and their claim was that it was safe in low doses.

David Jones 38:41
Yeah, well, they're right. It is safe a low dose.

Jeanine Adinaro 38:43
But so and the district court judge in Utah agreed, though she did point out that trying to do any science to determine if it was safe in low doses was completely unethical, right? Because you can't like run a study and be like, okay, humans take this doses, is this safe? Okay, take this dose, is it safe? Take this, oh, no, we went over. Right. It's not ethical to do that kind of study. So the case then goes to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, in August 2006. That Court upheld the ban. And the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. So the ruling stands and the FDA ban on the sale of ephedra containing products is still in place. Though it should be noted that you can sell ephedra products if the ephedrine has been removed or was never there. So like Mormon tea, which doesn't have ephedrine, still fine. Alright, so that that is the end of my story of how it came to pass that ephedra is no longer used in the United States.

David Jones 39:43
You know, right down the road from here, we're in Austin, Texas, and the American botanical Council is in Austin Texas. And they have a demonstration garden. And one of the things that they have that's doing extremely well there is is a huge bush of Ephedra sinica. And every once in a while they have to trim it back. And so some herbalists will get some. But then, to be fair, you can buy seeds and starts for Ephedra sinica, viridis and nevadensis. So you can grow it.

Jeanine Adinaro 40:23
You can grow it? Will it, will it be the kind that will produce ephedrine?

David Jones 40:29
Well, if you get ephedra sinica, if you get the right species, and you live in a kind of a climate where you could grow it. And now keep in mind they like when you talking about the, you know, Nevada desert, like that can get really cold, like bitterly cold. And so this is a plant that can take extreme heat, it can take bitter cold, and it can take, you know, drought and alkaline soils, like this is a survivor. And it's ancient,

Jeanine Adinaro 41:03
It can take extreme heat?

David Jones 41:05
Well, yeah, it's sitting out there, you know, in the middle of the Utah desert. It can even grow at higher altitudes. So it's a, that plant can take some abuse. And if you want to, you know, grow that at home for whatever reason you can. It's not illegal to possess,

Jeanine Adinaro 41:23
No, it's illegal to sell it.

David Jones 41:24
It's illegal to sell it. And that's a pretty reasonable distinction.

Jeanine Adinaro 41:27
And that's also, it's also, no one will import it either. The big importers won't bring it in because

David Jones 41:34
Any good herbal seed company would be able to provide you seeds for it.

Jeanine Adinaro 41:38
Alright, so there you go. DIY weight loss supplements.

David Jones 41:42
Oh, please don't use it for weight loss

Jeanine Adinaro 41:44
NO, do not use it for weight loss, it is a terrible. And that's the other thing is that in traditional Chinese medicine, Ma Huang is used in short duration.

David Jones 41:55
Oh, like a couple days

Jeanine Adinaro 41:57
Right. So you get your whatever is going on in your lungs under control. It's not meant to be used for months at a time.

David Jones 42:05
Alright, so, you know, in our other episodes, we have talked a little bit about some things that we've been cooking. Yes. And so I have to tell you, okay, so Jeanine's made something. And it sort of, honestly frightens me. I even watched her eat some and while she was eating it, it frightened me a little bit.

Jeanine Adinaro 42:28
You have no sense of adventure.

David Jones 42:30
I think I do. But I'm gonna have to tell you.... I tell you what. You tell the people who are listening, both of them. That's what you made. And if you could see their faces,

Jeanine Adinaro 42:44
okay, I'm going to take over at this point. So yesterday, I realized that I have not cooked anything interesting, for entirely too long. Not only have I not cooked anything interesting. I haven't even cooked anything. My family has been living off of frozen pizza and box mac and cheese. I mean, it's been bad. And then I remembered this recipe and I have always referred to it as kale-pineapple stew.

And although I looked back and so

David Jones 43:14
No, seriously, like I'm a little nauseated right now

Jeanine Adinaro 43:16
The story on this is that 20 years ago, when I was young and drank a lot, I went to visit my friend in California. And there was four days solid, of just drinking. It was like the drinking started at eight o'clock in the morning. And it didn't end till midnight. And so finally, at like day, four, we leave whatever thing we had been to. And it was three o'clock in the afternoon. And we're driving back to my friend's apartment. And she's like, "Oh, what should, what are we going to do?" And I was like, Well, what do you want to do tonight? And she goes, "Oh, I have an idea. How about we not drink?" I was like, oh, yeah, I guess we could try that.

David Jones 44:03
Okay, so you're gonna try not drinking for a night.

Jeanine Adinaro 44:06
And she was like, let's go the grocery store and I'll cook some food. I was like, okay, yes. Good idea. Yeah, cuz we haven't really eaten in four days either. It's just been like alcohol punctuated with crackers.

David Jones 44:16
If she would have told you what to cook before you went to the store?

Would you have been like, no

Jeanine Adinaro 44:19
She did.

David Jones 44:20
No, I'm gonna start drinking again.

Jeanine Adinaro 44:22
She did. She told me. I'm gonna make kale pineapple stew.

David Jones 44:25
Even saying it is nauseating.

Jeanine Adinaro 44:27
And so she was like, I had this exact reaction was like, and she was like, No, no, no, it's good. And I was like, Okay, well, I'm held hostage. There's nothing I can do about it. This is before the era of Uber. So she made it and and this is the recipe that I made. You basically you saute up the onions and garlic.

David Jones 44:47
Uh huh. That part's good.

Jeanine Adinaro 44:49
Then you put in a can have crushed pineapple.

David Jones 44:51
Nope, no, nope

Jeanine Adinaro 44:52
You don't like pineapple?

David Jones 44:53
No, nope. Keep going.

Jeanine Adinaro 44:56
Okay, so dump in the can of crushed pineapple, including the juice, you put in like four cups of kale that's been chopped and had the big stems removed, and you let that stew, right so that the kale gets nice and soft. They're stirring, you know. And then you put in about a cup of peanut butter. Okay, and you stir that in. And then you put in hot sauce, like Tabasco or Frank's or one of those, and some cilantro. And it's delicious. It doesn't take that long to make. And when I sat down, and I'm starting, I was probably starting to metabolize the alcohol at this point. And I took some of this. And I think whatever part of my brain controls, like the feedback to the pleasure center of my brain, like it sent a message going, Oh my god, she's eating something with nutrients for the first time in four days, send whatever message you have to send, so she will keep eating this. Right? It was kind of the same.

David Jones 45:55
Is this the first time you've made this since that bender?

Jeanine Adinaro 45:58
No, I've made it lots of times since then.

David Jones 46:02
Were they, was it after benders?

Jeanine Adinaro 46:04
No, no, no, yesterday, I just made it.

David Jones 46:08
And sounds like the kind of thing you would make if you were really high.

Jeanine Adinaro 46:11

David Jones 46:13
No, wait, wait.... pineapple. And peanut butter and kale, and kale, but put some kale in there.

Jeanine Adinaro 46:21
It's really good. And it's good leftover and it heats well. And I even gave some of it to my 10 year old who because when when he I had some left from my lunch and it was still warm. And I was like, here, try this. And he tried it and he goes, hmm, that's good. I'd eat that. He did not run away in repulsion. I didn't I didn't tell him it was called kale pineapples stew.

Yeah, see you just yeah, you know, if you don't like pineapple, if you don't like peanut butter, this is not the recipe for you.

David Jones 46:54
It sounds frightening.

Jeanine Adinaro 46:55
It's not. Okay. I feel like I have said everything that can be said about the wonderfulness of kale, pineapple stew. Dave, are you ready to give it a try?

David Jones 47:05
And I feel like I have said everything that I have said to clear up how I feel about pineapple. But I am willing to give it a try.

Jeanine Adinaro 47:12
I recommend you put some Saracha on it.

David Jones 47:15
Well, I'm going to try it. I'm going to try. Right. I'm a little scared because because

Jeanine Adinaro 47:20
He's chewing. He's not gagging.

Jeanine Adinaro 47:25
He's putting the Seracha on it!

David Jones 47:28
Well, yeah. So it's a, it tastes a lot like a, like a, like a peanut sauce.

Jeanine Adinaro 47:34
Yeah, well, there's like a ton, I think I put a little bit too much peanut butter into it this time. Like, I think the recipe actually calls for half a cup of peanut butter. And I think I probably got more like a cup of peanut butter in it. So it's a little thicker than I would normally make it...

David Jones 47:48
You know, I mean, to be fair, I was I was kind of giving you a hard time because I think it sounds kind of gross, because I was the pineapple is gonna be a whole lot more predominant, but it's not.

Jeanine Adinaro 47:55
No. It's just a little bit sweet. All right, what you've been cooking lately?

David Jones 48:00
So all right, this isn't that exciting, but it's one of those things where have you ever been in the position where you're, kind of out of food? And you sort of set it as a challenge to make something good out of the things that you have on hand? Right. This is one of those things and what it turned out to be was a sort of a mishmash of lots of different things. But imagine making a ground turkey curry. With a ton of kale and spinach, and I had a sweet potatoes so I threw a sweet potato in there. And you know, it's pretty much it's it's pretty basic like if you understand the basics of the spices and that sort of thing, which is cumin, coriander, you know, some sort of chili powder if you have it. Salt, pepper. Pretty basic.

Jeanine Adinaro 48:51
I'm not I'm not gonna lie to you. I'm not a huge fan of lentils.

David Jones 48:54
Well so there's also a bunch of lentils in there but that have been cooked in some chicken broth that we had. But I think that they, well, you know what to just try it. See what you think.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:04
All right. I would also say, like from a texture standpoint, this doesn't look real different from what I just handed you. Which was a sort of yellowish, pale...

David Jones 49:17
Yeah, neither one of them are gonna win any presentation prizes.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:21
The flavor's good.

I think maybe what I don't like about lentils is the texture. That might be what it is. Like in that same way that tapioca should be good in theory, but then you actually have it and it's like, no, but no.

David Jones 49:36
Well, what I like about lentils is I had them and they're also cheap.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:40
Yeah, no, I can get behind it. I'm gonna finish the bowl. Right?

David Jones 49:43
It was a tiny little just like one or two spoonfuls, but that's sort of that's what my wife and I are eaten for a couple times this week.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:51
Does this have turkey in it?

David Jones 49:52
Yeah. Ground turkey.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:53
I can't taste the turkey.

David Jones 49:54
That's because the turkey the lentils all sort of blend together in terms of flavor. Because the lentils take on that with the chicken broth, and then sort of the pull in the umami of the chicken or the turkey.

Jeanine Adinaro 50:06
Oh, that is the turkey.

David Jones 50:07
Yeah, it's not that much. It's a pound in six servings. So cooked down, what is that, 50 grams?

Jeanine Adinaro 50:12
I would, I would say that if this was the "Oh, crap. I don't know what to make tonight. And if I don't make something, we're going to end up spending 50 bucks"

David Jones 50:20
Going out. Yeah.

Jeanine Adinaro 50:22
You know to the beer pub. You win. You get the gold star of the week.

David Jones 50:26
Yeah, no, it was, you know, it made my wife happy.

Jeanine Adinaro 50:30

David Jones 50:31
Happy spouse. Happy house.

Jeanine Adinaro 50:32
Happy house.

David Jones 50:33
All right. Well, that's about all I've got. What do you got anything else to share?

Jeanine Adinaro 50:36
I think I'm done.

David Jones 50:37
I think that's a wrap.

Jeanine Adinaro 50:39
Bye now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

1 Response

Lorraine Dostal
Lorraine Dostal

October 22, 2019

I like your podcast! Great first effort! I like the “what are you cooking?” part too.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in The Herbalogic Blog

Corydalis makes a beautiful flower, but in traditional Chinese herbs, corydalis root is a powerful herb to relieve pain
Spotlight on Herbs: Corydalis

July 09, 2020

Corydalis received tremendous fanfare a few years back when Dr Oz declared it the silver bullet for people with chronic pain. But as usual, there's more to this herb than just adding it to your morning smoothie. Dave explains how and when corydalis is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

Continue Reading

A simple bowl of rice demonstrates a powerful idea in traditional Chinese medicine- it's not just what you add to an herbal formula, it's how you prepare it that makes a quality, therapeutic product
It's Not Just What, It's How

July 07, 2020

Traditional Chinese herbs can have different therapeutic effects based simply on the preparation method. Jeanine explores this concept using the example of seemingly simple side dish, rice.

Continue Reading

Peony flowers come in a variety of colors from white to deep red. But in Chinese herbs, peony root, red peony root or white peony root depends on processing, and has nothing to do with the flower color
Spotlight on Herbs: Peony Root

July 02, 2020

Peony flowers are beautiful to be sure. But peony root is also a powerful herb related to regulating blood. Jeanine explains the difference in traditional Chinese medicine the differences between red peony root and white peony root, both how they are made and how they are used.

Continue Reading