Last Updated: December 19 2022

Ephedrine 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. It has also been noted to cause serious side-effects in some instances, and its legal status varies by region.

Ephedrine is most often used for

What is ephedrine?

Ephedrine is a stimulant that activates the sympathetic nervous system. It is chemically synthesized for use as a drug in clinical practice, but ephedrine is also one of the ephedrine-type alkaloids that are extracted from plants in the Ephedra genus and have effects on the heart, vascular system, and other organs.[79] Supplements derived from Ephedra plants (e.g., the Chinese botanical Ma Huang) are often referred to as “ephedra” and are marketed for many uses, including weight loss.[80] Due to ephedra’s serious side effects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra and ephedrine-type alkaloids in the United States.[81]

What are ephedrine’s main benefits?

Ephedrine and supplements derived from Ephedra plants can cause weight loss[80][82] and improve blood lipid profiles (increased HDL cholesterol and decreased LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).[82] Some studies show that ephedrine and ephedra supplements can improve exercise performance,[80][83][84][85] but these effects are not consistent and are often found only when ephedrine is taken in combination with caffeine.[80][83][86][87]

What are ephedrine’s main drawbacks?

Ephedrine and supplements derived from Ephedra plants can cause autonomic hyperactivity (e.g., heart palpitations, tremors, twitching, insomnia, and sweating), gastrointestinal problems (e.g., nausea, vomiting, reflux, and heartburn), and psychiatric symptoms (e.g., agitation, lowered mood, irritability, and anxiety).[82][80] Ephedra supplements have also been implicated in adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular outcomes including stroke, heart attack, and death.[88][80]

Furthermore, ephedrine and its derivatives (pseudoephedrine, methylephedrine, etc.) are currently included on the prohibited list of substances issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Therefore, athletes who use ephedra supplements or over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine (e.g., decongestants) must ensure that they are following the rules of their sport and holding the necessary therapeutic use exemptions (TUE).

How does ephedrine work?

The exact mechanisms are not fully understood but both ephedrine[89][90] (the drug) and ephedrine-type alkaloids[79][91] (from Ephedra plants) activate various adrenergic receptors in multiple tissues (heart, lungs, blood vessels, adipose tissue, muscles, etc.). This increases sympathetic nervous system activity, causing heart rate and blood pressure to rise and bronchioles in the lungs to dilate. The role of ephedrine and ephedra supplements in weight loss is likely related to increased fatty acid release from fat stores (adipose) and increased whole-body fat oxidation and energy expenditure.[92][93][94] Because a rise in energy expenditure would increase heat production (thermogenesis), this likely explains the increased sweating caused by ephedrine and ephedra supplements.

What else is Ephedrine known as?
Note that Ephedrine is also known as:
  • Ephedra Vulgaris
  • Ephedraceae
  • ma huang
Ephedrine should not be confused with:
  • Ephedrone
  • Epinephrine
Dosage information

All Doses Standardized to Ephedrine HCl

In an ECA stack, ephedrine is dosed at 20-24mg for three doses taken throughout the day.

Human studies have found success with ephedrine in isolation on fat metabolism with doses of 20-50mg thrice a day. The higher range (150mg) may be too stimulatory for some, and can induce headaches or light hand tremors.

Ephedrine tends to be consumed with xanthine compounds like caffeine and sometimes with Aspirin. The combination of Ephedrine and caffeine is shown repeatedly to be highly synergistic.

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