While dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids have been used with an acceptable margin of safety and efficacy by many individuals, they can be downright dangerous for those with certain underlying medical conditions. A number of case reports have implicated ephedrine alkaloids as the cause of serious adverse health effects in isolated individuals- including but not limited to heart attack, stroke, seizures, and even death. It should also be noted that supplements ephedrine alkaloids are currently banned in the United States. Any decision to use ephedrine or ephedra products should be made in close consultation with your personal physician.
Ephedrine (ih-fed-rin) is one of the four active components of the herb Ephedra. It is able to induce fat loss via increasing the amount of fat available for fuel as well as by increasing heat expenditure. It has been implicated in increasing the metabolic rate by up to 5% in humans.
Ephedrine also interacts with muscle cells, increasing heat expenditure in them as well as fat cells. It can also prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue to a small degree.
Side effects include an increase in blood pressure that goes away with cessation and increases in some blood parameters (glucose, insulin) that also go away with cessation of use. It has been reported to be a hyperstimulant when taken in doses above what is recommended.
Ephedrine is well studied and a fairly reliable compound for short- to medium-term weight loss (less than 6 months) and mild performance improvements, usually in trained individuals. However, it does not work under all situations; longer-term weight loss and effects in untrained individuals have not been studied much and sometimes produce negative results. While it has been implicated in weight reduction independent of exercise and diet changes, efficacy is maximized with minimal side-effects when ephedrine is combined with diet and exercise.