For centuries, the Chinese and Native Americans have used ephedra for a wide range of medicinal purposes. Ephedra acts as a stimulant, increases thermogenesis (higher internal body temperature), raises blood pressure, and expands the bronchial tubes to promote better oxygen intake.
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
However, in the early 2000s, a number of ephedra-based weight loss products become highly popular. These supplements contained ephedra alkaloid, a form of ephedrine that provides the above-mentioned effect. These supplements were banned in 2004 by the FDA for the simple reason that while they only provided MODEST weight loss over the short-term, they contributed to a psychiatric problems, heart palpitations, and both gastrointestinal and autonomic symptoms.
The side effects of ephedra/ephedrine are pretty terrifying! Some of the most common side effects include tremors, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. If you use ephedra for longer, you may notice serious side effects like high blood pressure, seizures, heart palpitations, and a rapid heartbeat. According to experts, there is even a chance that taking ephedra can be fatal!
We can all thank our lucky stars that the FDA caught wind of the negative side effects of ephedrine and took steps to ban it. While ephedrine was once a popular ingredient in supplements, it’s very uncommon to find it nowadays. In fact, it’s fully banned and illegal due to its health risks.
“So now what?” you may be thinking. “Ephedrine was the most popular weight loss supplement for a while, but now that it’s banned, what I can use to lose weight?”
Here are some of the more effective, MUCH SAFER weight loss supplements to try:
Caffeine Supplement – Caffeine has multiple benefits for weight loss. First, it’ll boost your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories every day. It’ll also enhance fat burning, give you energy for your workout, and increase thermogenesis. However, your body is likely to develop a tolerance for caffeine, so you’ll notice the effects less and less. Long-term caffeine supplement use is NOT recommended.
Orlistat — This is the only weight loss drug approved by the FDA. Basically, it stops your body from absorbing fat. However, it can cause some pretty unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.
Glucomannan –This is a fiber that absorbs water, expands in your gut, and helps you to feel full more quickly. This in turn helps you to avoid overeating. Plus, it will feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, improving your digestive health. It can cause minor negative digestive side effects, but it’s effective for control blood sugar and cholesterol.
Green Tea Extract – Green tea contains antioxidants that will cause your body to burn more fat, but specifically fat around your gut. It can boost your metabolism and target belly fat. The side effects are minimal, and short-term use (less than 2-3 months) can help you to lose weight effectively.
Here’s a harsh truth you need to understand: weight loss supplements can HELP you to lose weight, but they’re not going to be the magic bullet you need. There’s no shortcut to weight loss—it takes weeks and months of healthy eating, balancing nutrients, cutting back on calories, reducing sugar and carb intake, and being more active. A supplement can be a useful addition to your diet, but it’s not going to fix the problem for you. You have to take steps to improve your diet and lifestyle if you want to see real results.