Ephedrine Legal Advice



What is Ephedrine, Ephedra and Ma Huang?

These terms are used to refer to the same substance derived from the plant Ephedra. (There are many common names for these evergreen plants, including squaw tea and Mormon tea.) Ephedra is a shrub-like plant that is found in desert regions in central Asia and other parts of the world. The dried greens of the plant are used medicinally. Ephedra is a stimulant containing the herbal form of ephedrine, an FDA-regulated drug found in over-the-counter asthma medications.

In the United States, ephedra and ephedrine are sold in health food stores under a variety of brand names. Ephedrine is widely used for weight loss, as an energy booster, and to enhance athletic performance. These products often contain other stimulants, such as caffeine, which may have synergistic effects and increase the potential for adverse effects. Ephedra is often touted as the "herbal fen-phen."


Ephedra's main active medical ingredients are the alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. The ephedras also contain various tannins and related chemicals.The stem contains 1-3% total alkaloids, with ephedrine accounting for 30-90% of this total. The concentrations of these alkaloids depends upon the particular species of ephedra used.

Ephedrine alkaloids are amphetamine-like compounds used in OTC and prescription drugs with potentially lethal stimulant effects on the central nervous system and heart. The FDA has received more than 800 reports of adverse effects associated with use of products containing ephedrine alkaloid since 1994. These serious adverse effects, include hypertension (elevated blood pressure), palpitations (rapid heart rate), neurophathy (nerve damage), myopathy (muscle injury), psychosis, stroke, memory loss, heart rate irregularities, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, seizures, heart attacks, and death. The agency has proposed to prohibit the marketing of dietary supplements containing 8 milligrams or more of ephedrine alkaloids per serving.



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