A week ago last night, one of my friends drank an energy drink -- Red Line, manufactured by VPX Sports -- and spent the next 24 hours so sick that we were monitoring her carefully in anticipation of having to take her to the emergency room.
Her symptoms, which came on about two and a half hours after she drank a can of the brew, included chills, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting, vomiting, vomiting with deep, racking convulsions that were quite frightening to watch. Fortunately, they died down and she eventually returned to her normal, healthy self.
She is hardly alone in her reaction to this foul concoction. Here's Lynn commenting on HealthBoard message boards:
I dont recommend it to anyone. Seriously, I am not a light weight when it comes to things that amp you. But this one, no, no, no! It made me immediately ill, shaky, chest pain beyond belief, I thought I was going to die. (sweating and chills, through [sic] up 3 times). Outrageous, I wonder how they were able to actually sell it to anybody.And here's the quick-typing Sleepy commenting on the site Tell Him Fred:
And, 10.5 hrs later???? Still sick and heart pounding out of control.
I have a porblem with redlineenergy drink. i drank the whole can yesterday, after i drank the can about 4 hours later i started getting shakey, then i started to throw up, i couldnt keep food down, rapid heart rate followed, extreme sweating from my body getting overheated, then my left side muscles started to go cold and hurt, I was awake a good part of the night and it was worse than any illegal drug i have ever tried and I’ve been around. Do NOT drink this drink it is bad news and shouldn’t be legalAnd, if you want some "expert" opinion, here's a review from Energy Drink Reviews:
Wow, this drink is some serious stuff. I mean about half the bottle is the warning label, and it is serious, this drink is INSANE. It says that you should not drink it unless you are over 18, which I would say is a good warning. This is the first drink that was to much for me. The bottle says warning potent, but I have had every energy drink I could find without a problem. This Redline, made me feel like I was tweaking out hard core, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I seriously mean I wasn't enjoying the quick happy buzz that you get from most energy drinks. This was a scary my body is going out of control hot and cold sweats, tweaked out. I had the drink at two in the afternoon and I couldn't sleep until 4 am in the morning.That's from someone who obviously has a lot of experience with these drinks, and considerable resistance to them.
My friend did not follow directions, drinking an entire can -- but what's with putting two "doses" in one can? Every other energy drink comes in a one-serving can.
And what's in the can? Caffeine, Green Tea, Yerba Mate, 5-HTP (5 hydroxy-1-tryptophan), cAMP, Yohimbe, Evodiamine, and Vinpocetine. And a few other things.
I've thought for some time that it's ironic that people like my friend, who are concerned about their health, eating organic foods and shunning tap water, would ever get close to this stuff.
5-HTP? That's an amino acid that's a precursor to the neurotransmitter seratonin. It's in Red Line because of its alleged appetite suppressant characteristics but it also seems to definitely affect the brain chemistry involving mood and depression -- perhaps enhancing feelings -- but what is a compound that messes with brain chemistry doing in an over-the-counter drink?
Plus, it and Vinpocetine can both cause intestinal upset and rapid heartbeat.
Here's some of what Wikipedia has to say about cAMP:
Role of cAMP in human carcinoma
 Role of cAMP in Prefrontal Cortex Disorders
Recent research may indicate that cAMP affects the function of higher order thinking in the prefrontal cortex through its regulation of ion channels called hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels (HCN). When cAMP stimulates the HCN, these gates open, rendering the brain cell closed to communication, thus interfering with prefrontal cortex function. This research is of interest to scientists studying the brain, especially the degradation of higher cognitive function in ADHD and aging.
Again, what's a chemical that messes with brain chemistry doing in an over-the-counter energy drink?
Red Line's attorneys appear to be well aware of the risks of this product. After their intervention, here's the warning label:
WARNING: NOT FOR USE BY INDIVIDUALS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS. DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT OR NURSING. Consult a physician or licensed qualified health care professional before using this product if you have, or have a family history of, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression or other psychiatric condition, glaucoma, difficulty in urinating, prostate enlargement, or seizure disorder, or if you are using a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or any other dietary supplement, prescription drug, or over-the-counter drug containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine (ingredients found in certain allergy, asthma, cough or cold, and weight control products). Do not exceed recommended serving. Exceeding recommended serving may cause adverse health effects. Discontinue use and call a physician or licensed qualified health care professional immediately if you experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, severe headache, shortness of breath, or other similar symptoms. The consumer assumes total liability if this product is used in a manner inconsistent with label guidelines. Do not use for weight reduction. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.I wrote VPX sports early in the week asking them to explain why they make this product, and why they pack two doses in a can. They have not responded.
I wrote Seven-11 Stores, which is one of the few retail chains that stocks it, and which sold it to my friend, asking them not to stock the drink any more. They have not responded.
Update: VPX called me on 9/18, following up on my email to Seven-11, not my email to them. The man on the phone, while very friendly, defended the drink as appealing to a small market that wanted a substitute for ephedrine, which has been pulled from the market. His reason for calling was because he was required to under FDA regulations, and spend nearly the entire time asking me questions so he could fill out his questionnaire. He did tell me that to his knowledge, no one has died from the drink.In all the research I've done on this product, including a Nexis media search, I've found no stories by major media outlets on the threat Red Line presents, although I found one story about a similar drink named Spike sent several Denver and Boulder sent several kids to the hospital.
There's something definitely wrong here. VPX is not taking responsibility for its product and is getting away with it. Seven-11 is not taking responsibility for the products it sells and is also getting away with it.
Please pass this along to your kids and/or friends with a warning. Energy drink drinkers, think about going back to good old coffee or black tea and stay away from this junk.