Stacker2 has been featured on TV shows like Pawn Stars and Jersey Shore, touted by WWF and NASCAR and Fox News celebrities, all according to their website. Stacker2 products are wildly popular—70 percent of Amazon.com reviews on Stacker2 Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules are over 4 stars—and Stacker2 as a brand has a significant social media presence, with nearly 64,000 followers on Facebook.   
You’ve seen the colorful little two-ounce plastic bottles of Stacker2 energy “shots” on convenience store counters. They all come in fruity flavors from blue raspberry to pomegranate acai.  But today we’re looking specifically at the Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules.
The product line was created by New Jersey company NVE Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in 1997.  NVE has no profile on the Better Business Bureau. Its snapshot on Bloomberg.com provides the following information: 
- Founded in 1980 by Robert Occhifinto, president and owner
- 15 Whitehall Road, Andover, NJ 07821
- 973-786-7868 Website: nveusa.com (where the phone number listed is 973-601-8484
A 100-count bottle (30-day supply if you’re taking three a day, longer if you’re taking less) retails for $19.99 (discounted from list price of $29.99) on the Stacker2.com website, or $14.75 on Amazon.com. Both sites offer free shipping.  
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements, only drugs. As such, supplement labels are prohibited from claiming any research-proven medical or health benefit—this is the function of a drug, in the FDA’s view. The entire issue is convoluted, and there’s no shortage of legal action brought against supplement manufacturers by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on a regular basis.
Stacker2 Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules Claims
Stacker2 formula is designed for those who are in search of a dietary supplement in a powerful Ephedra-free formula. When taken as directed, this formula may help burn fat, cut cravings, and boost a sluggish system without the use of Ephedra. Stacker2 is manufactured by the makers of The World's Strongest Fat Burner, so you can trust that this product will help you burn fat and boost your energy! … Boost Your Energy! Burn Fat! Loose Weight! Cut Cravings! 
Because, according to NVE, “formulating, manufacturing and quality control is in-house, NVE provides only the highest quality customer service as well as ingredients available with the most competitive pricing in the market, allowing for large profit margins.” 
Stacker 2 products in general are massive money-makers, and these pills hold their own quite nicely in the lineup. Again, Stacker2 is ubiquitous and popular in part because of high-profile endorsements from celebrities, big-name actors and athletes, rock and rap musicians, race car drivers, and wrestlers.
Stacker2 Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules Ingredients 
- Proprietary Blend, 198 mg [Kola Nut (seeds) (3 mg caffeine group alkaloids), Yerba Mate (fruit), Cassia Mimosoides Extract (leaves/stems/pods), White Willow Bark.]
- Tri-Gugglytoid3 Complex™ 25 mg – Green Tea (leaves) (<1 mg caffeine group alkaloids), Guggelsterone (whole plant), Gymnene Sylvestre (leaves).
- Caffeine (anhydrous) 200 mg
- Capsule: dextrose, gelatin, anti caking agent (stearic acid, magnesium stearatem, titanium dioxide), colorants (tartrazine, brilliant blue fcf, sunset yellow fcf).
The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind Stacker2 Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules
The original Stacker diet capsules contained ephedra (known in Chinese medicine as Ma Huang) as well as caffeine. Then in 2004, the FDA implemented a nationwide ban on dietary supplements containing ephedra as the result of a number of deaths tied to the “amphetamine-like” alkaloid herbal supplement. 
You know what we’re talking about here: an ingredient in products like decongestants now behind the pharmacy counter. Ephedra itself is still available as a prescription weight-loss substance, but only under very strict physician guidelines and medical eligibility. But as a result of the ban, the original Stacker was outlawed and eventually replaced with its successors, Stacker2 and Stacker 3. 
Stacker’s products were developed and named based on bodybuilders’ practice of “stacking” ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin “to give them extra energy for workouts as well as acquire a lean cut look before competitive shows.” 
But just because these supplements no longer contain ephedra doesn’t mean there aren’t still concerns in their use. Let’s check the science behind the ingredients and that “stacking.”
According to Healthline.com,
Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that clears drowsiness and gives you an energy boost. … Every day, 80 percent of Americans consume caffeine, according to the FDA. The average American adult consumes 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine every day — the amount in two 5-ounce cups of coffee or four sodas. … Caffeine is such an effective stimulant that many people are using a highly concentrated caffeine powder, or caffeine anhydrous, to stimulate athletic performance or weight loss. According to the …(FDA), a teaspoon of caffeine powder is the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee. 
Kola nut is the seed of a plant by the same name. It comes from Nigeria and West Africa and is used widely there as a stimulant and as part of a lot of social and ceremonial events. It contains caffeine, and as such has been used as an ephedra substitute ever since the 2004 FDA ban. But according to WebMD.com, the clinical evidence of its effectiveness in weight loss is still very much in the early stages. 
Like Kola nut, another stimulant plant containing caffeine—this one from South America—whose claims don’t yet have sufficient clinical evidence to back it up. 
Cassia Mimosoides Extract
Also known as Cassia nomame. From WebMD.com:
Cassia nomame prevents the stomach and intestines from absorbing dietary fat. This causes dietary fat to be excreted in feces, which might promote weight loss in some people. 
But the same article also states the clinical evidence is still insufficient to say definitively that it does this.
White Willow Bark
Stacker 2’s sales page lists it thus: “White Willow: A natural antioxidant and antinflamatory that contains flavonoids, tannins, and a wealth of health benefits.” 
But what they fail to mention is this, and it’s important. Willow bark has been used since the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as a general pain reliever because of its active ingredient, salicin—later synthesized as acetylsalicylic acid, marketed in 1899 by Bayer as aspirin. But it’s also an anti-platelet—a blood thinner—so if you take an anticoagulant like warfarin you don’t want to be taking this product. And aspirin has been linked to Reye’s Syndrome, a disorder of the brain and liver, when taken for chickenpox or flu-like symptoms by children and teenagers.   
So the ephedra from the original formula has been partly replaced with more caffeine, a possible fat-blocker, and a blood thinner. Let’s skim the rest:
- Green Tea: an antioxidant, but also a caffeine source.
- Guggelsterone : made from the gum resin of a tree in India, it contains substances that may lower cholesterol and triglycerides. But the research leans toward negative results in any effectiveness in weight loss. Among other warnings, it is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, nor for those with bleeding disorders (it can slow clotting). 
- Gymnene Sylvestre: A shrub native to Africa and India, it may contain substances which lower the intestines’ ability to absorb sugar, and may also increase pancreatic cell growth and insulin production. There is insufficient clinical evidence of its effectiveness in weight loss. It is also not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing, nor for those with diabetes. 
For an otherwise healthy person, taking as-recommended doses of Stacker 2 Ephedra-Free Fat Burner may be safe—but taking more than the recommended dose gets dicey, potentially dangerous, and, in cases of extreme overdose, deadly. Side effects includes rapid heart rate, higher than usual blood pressures, nausea, headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, and may cause digestive issues for some users. 
Every supplement affects every individual differently. Gender, age, sometimes race, pre-existing medical conditions, and individual body chemistry—as unique as a fingerprint—can affect how a supplement works on you. That’s why supplements always add that “individual results may vary” disclaimer, and it’s why reviews for a drug or supplement can be all over the spectrum. Only you and your doctor can figure out how it works for you, so always be forthcoming and transparent with your doctor about side effects you experience, as well as if the substance doesn’t seem to be doing anything for you.
Word on the Street About Stacker2 Ephedra-Free Fat Burner Capsules
Stacker2 itself claims it is the “world’s strongest fat burner,” And Stacker2 webpage testimonials feature headlines like “Works great,” “ Just right,” and “Great product.” 
On Amazon.com, these capsules rate 4.1 out of 5 stars (182 reviews). But what’s interesting is most reviews tout it for the energy boost and not for any substantial weight loss. Though there are a few who praise it for shedding pounds.
“johnnyangel” (5-star, 2015) says, “This fat burner supplement has always aided in energy building metabolizing action on my fat corpuscles. Continued use will definitely move you in the direction of a leaner body mass. If hypersensitive to caffeine, then use less than recommended. If not, then use amounts suggested for quick weight loss. Will also aid in suppressing your appetite. Try it you'll like it !!” 
“Amanda Meyer” (3-star, 2014) says, “I used to take these awhile ago and I remembered they gave me a decent amount of energy throughout the day. I tried them again but they didn't really do much for me, nor did they help me lose any weight. They did give me a bit of an energy boost, but not like they used to. I would recommend these to people looking for a bit of an energy booster, but I wouldn't rely on them for weight loss. Of course, weight loss pills must be paired with a healthy diet and exercise, but I feel there are better weight loss pills out there.” 
And “Yvonne Valentin” (1-star, 2013) says, “I tried the Stacker 2 Fat Burner Capsules for several months and really didn't due nothing to me. I do not see any difference. I am not a big person I'm only 5'1 and I weight 120 lbs I was trying to use them more for Energy and to burn some of my stomach fat but It really didn't due nothing..” 
The Bottom Line: Are Stacker 2 Ephedra-free Fat Burner Capsules worth a try?
Depends. Hopefully only healthy adults who are well-educated on Stacker2 products—meaning they have carefully examined, read and fully understand the risks, side effects, drug and food interactions, and have received a thumbs-up from their physicians—are the folks using Stacker2.
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*Individual results will vary.