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About Ephedra, Ephedrine and their benefits or side effects - Ephedra Information

Posted Nov 25 2009 10:03pm

What is Ephedra?

Ephedra is an herb (or herbal supplement) that has been used to effectively treat asthma symptoms, allergies, and congestion. It is more often used as a dietary supplement and stimulant, however. Technically speaking, the FDA has banned Ephedra in the U.S. due to its potentially fatal side effects, but it still remains one of the hottest weight loss products on the market.

This herb is also known as Ma Huang. The Ephedra and Ephedrine used in weight loss stimulants and supplements comes from a plant named Ephedra sinica. The Chinese first used Ephedra as a means of treating cold symptoms, asthma, and hay fever, and have made use of the herb for nearly 5,000 years. Ephedra has also been traditionally used for weight loss.

What Is Ephedrine?

Ephedrine Hydrochloride (Ephedrine Sulfate) is an alkaloid in the Ephedra sinica family. It is used primarily as a stimulant or appetite suppressant for those trying to lose weight, but is also effectively used to treat anesthesia-related hypertension, to aid in concentration, in decongestants, and for similar remedies.

Is Ephedra Legal?

We all know that any stimulant or weight loss aid can be dangerous if not used correctly, and Ephedra is no exception. Like caffeine, Ephedra can be addictive, and, like alcohol and/or prescription medications, can create serious problems if not taken as suggested, though other over-the-counter medicines can be much more dangerous.

The FDA’s ban on Ephedra was announced on August 18, 2006, although this ban cannot be enforced in all cases since the FDA does not have legal control of Ephedra as an herb, and Ephedra can still be purchased (mostly in pill form) in the United States and worldwide.

How Ephedra Works

Ephedra works by stimulating the body’s central nervous system. This speeds up many bodily processes, helping increase metabolism and energy levels. In this way, Ephedra works best in conjunction with diet and exercise, and should actually be used as a weight loss aid, not a weight loss program. It should be used to boost an existing weight loss program, but long term effects on the body have not been thoroughly researched as of yet.

Caffeine (and sometimes aspirin) are sometimes mixed with Ephedra to create an effective appetite suppressant. This is commonly referred to as an ECA Stack (ECA for Ephedra Caffeine Aspirin). Therefore, Ephedra works in two major ways to help people lose weight:

  1. It speeds up metabolism, hence the phrase “lose weight while you sleep,” a popular Ephedra slogan.
  2. It suppresses the appetite. Many people gain weight because they believe they are hungry more often than they actually need to eat.

Ephedra Side Effects

Common side effects for Ephedra users include:
  • Weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Nervousness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart disease

Side effects are usually more noticeable in those already suffering from anxiety, restlessness, high blood pressure, glaucoma, impaired circulation, prostate adenoma, pheochromocytoma, and thyrotoxicosis.

Ephedra can cause uterine contractions, so it should never be used during pregnancy unless under the advice of a licensed medical professional.

Additional Suggestions

Although the suggested dosage may sound like the right place to start, it may be wise to start with a smaller dose to determine how the body will tolerate the herb. In fact, it is advisable to take the supplement with a meal to help absorb the Ephedra with fewer complications.

To avoid potentially life-threatening problems, do not attempt to boost weight loss by taking more than one central nervous system stimulant at one time.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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