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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.

Our evidence-based analysis on ephedrine features 99 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Ephedrine

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Examine.com special safety warning on ephedrine and ephedra products

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.[1] It should also be noted that supplements ephedrine alkaloids are currently banned in the United States.[2] 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.

Ephedrine is highly synergistic with caffeine, and for this reason is commonly found in something called an ECA stack (Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin).

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.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

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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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Ephedrine has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
It is thought that most weight lost with ephedrine administration is due to fat mass, due to a slight muscle preserving effect; studies that note reductions in fat mass support this hypothesis
grade-b Notable Very High See all 6 studies
Ephedrine, secondary to the stimulatory properties, appears to reliably increase metabolic rate
grade-b Notable High See all 10 studies
Ephedrine tends to result in reliable weight loss over time relative to control (assuming calories are held equal), which is mostly due to a loss of body fat
grade-b Minor Low See all 5 studies
There may be an acute increase in blood pressure seen with ephedrine intake, although this does not appear to be overly reliable; long-term usage of ephedrine does not seem to alter blood pressure, and may reduce it secondary to weight loss
grade-b Minor Moderate See all 5 studies
An increase in heart rate is present following ephedrine administration which correlates well with its psychostimulatory properties; this is not 100% reliable, and heart rate increases may not occur
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
Ephedrine appears to result in notable nasal decongestion
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase in HDL-C has been noted with ingestion of ephedrine, may be confounded with weight loss also seen in the trials
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in LDL-C has been noted to be associated with ephedrine, although this may be confounded with weight loss (also seen in the trials)
grade-c Minor - See study
May decrease the rate of skeletal muscle breakdown over time
grade-c Minor - See study
Appears to increase well being acutely following the first doses of ephedrine, secondary to the psychostimulatory effects
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
There appears to be a decrease in triglycerides over time with ephedrine ingestion, which may be due to either the fat burning effects of ephedrine or the weight loss that tends to ensue
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on power output with standard oral doses of ephedrine (higher doses may influence power output, but this is not well researched)
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in appetite following ephedrine intake is noted and thought to be secondary to its psychostimulatory effects
grade-d - See study
Ephedrine has been noted to reduce postoperative nausea, but is also linked to inducing nausea secondary to its psychostimulatory and appetite suppressing effects. The latter is more practical for supplementation

Studies Excluded from Consideration

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Ephedrine

Do I need to cycle ephedrine?
Surprisingly, ephedrine does not appear to need cycling for the fat burning aspect of it (it may for neurological stimulation and appetite suppression). If using an ECA stack, however, the caffeine may need to be cycled

Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Ephedra Vulgaris, Ephedraceae, ma huang

Do Not Confuse With

Ephedrone, Epinephrine

Goes Well With

Methylxanthines such as caffeine and theophylline (a component of green tea)

Caution Notice

Ephedrine can also increase dopamine levels in the brain, and caution should be taken pairing ephedrine with MAOIs such as yohimbine.

Ephedrine should only be used under the supervision of a Medical Doctor, especially if pre-existing cardiac complications exist, due to potentially serious adverse effects.

The legal status of ephedrine varies by country and is a banned substance by certain sports agencies.

  • Ephedrine is highly stimulatory, and the plant (Ephedra) more-so.

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