Ephedrine is derived from various plants from the family Ephedra, a Chinese herb. It has various uses, including:
- Appetite suppressant
- Concentration aid
- Treatment of asthma
- Treatment of the common cold
- Treatment of hypotension
In the west, it was commonly marketed as a weight loss drug due to its appetite suppressant and metabolic stimulant properties. Today ephedrine is illegal and is not a weight loss supplement.
Ephedrine and Weight Loss
A number of well-known weight loss supplements contain a combination of ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin (often referred to as an “ECA stack”). Proponents of this formula believe that it boosts the fat-burning capacity of the body.
There is some evidence to suggest that ephedrine and the ECA stack can help you to lose weight in the short term. There is no evidence that it helps weight loss in the long term1 and the dangers of consuming ephedrine can be life threatening.
The risks associated with this drug are increased risk of:
- Autonomic or gastrointestinal symptoms
- Heart palpitations
Long Term Use of Ephedrine
Long term use of ephedrine or ephedra-related substances can lead to addiction and has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including:
- Cardiovascular issues such as rapid heartbeat
- Vaso-constriction, hypertension, and even heart failure
- Sweating, skin rashes
- Nausea, headaches, dizziness and tremors
- Increased urination and difficulty urinating
- Excess fluid in the lungs, a potentially life-threatening condition
- Nervous system issues, including restlessness, agitation, confusion, anxiety
- Panic and paranoia
1 The Journal of the American Medical Association : Efficacy and Safety of Ephedra and Ephedrine for Weight Loss and Athletic Performance