Ephedra or ephedrine comes from the herb Ephedra sinica. This herb is used in traditional Chinese medication for centuries now. Today this herb ephedra is associated with weight loss and appetite suppressant qualities. This herb is available through ephedra tea and is also called ma huang. A bottle of ephedrine also contains extracts of this herb.
The effects of ephedra include brain stimulation, constricting blood vessels and increasing blood pressure which increases the heart rate in turn increasing the body heat. This increase in body heat helps reduce appetite and in turn helps weight loss. This herb, when used with aspirin and caffeine, has also been known to aid weight loss.
Lipodrene is a very popular ephedra supplement that is available in the market. It is marketed as a weight loss supplement with 29 per cent more efficacy than those compared to other fat burning supplements. This brand is sold online and claims to have a patented fat-burning system. This herbal supplement burns away fat, controls sugar cravings and regulates appetite. The use of this herb in the sports arena was also well known. Ephedra and ephedrine is also used in treatment of respiratory problems. These are used in home remedies for colds and flu while ephedrine is sometimes used in bronchodilators.
The side effects of ephedra have not been encouraging at all. Its side effects like dizziness, skin irritation, insomnia, extreme perspiration, dehydration, itchy scalp, nausea and vomiting, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, strokes and even death can cause immense fear to the ones consuming it. These side effects are exacerbated by the lack of proper dosage information. Today this herb can still be found in Chinese herb medications.
There are some contraindications regarding ephedrine. It cannot be used with certain antidepressants as they can aggravate the side effects of the herb. The usage should also be monitored if the patient has existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension or is a lactating mother. Ephedra has also been known to cause psychiatric effects when it is consumed. There have even been some high profile cases in the light of the use of ephedra. The repeated use of this herb through the teas or supplements led to neurotoxicity and even the onset of psychosis. Though the sample size was never large enough, the adverse effects were enough to cause worry.
The Unites States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has already banned all supplements with ephedra. Sports bodies across the world are also including this herb and its forms in lists of banned substances for athletes and sports persons.