Getting into shape is not an easy task. This is especially that case if you’ve never worked out before, and you’re trying to start. Because of this seemingly impassable barrier to getting fit, people tend to look for shortcuts. Many look to supplements, pills, and serums to rapidly hasten or boost results from exercising.
Ephedrine pills are a fantastic example of these supplements, widely known for its ability to boost weight loss and metabolism. But like any medication, it doesn’t come without its fair share of side effects and controversy. Is this drug safe to use? Are its benefits guaranteed? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? These are some questions we’re going to try to answer today, so let’s get right to it.
What are ephedrine pills?
The ephedra sinica plant came to prominence in the 1990s and became a common ingredient in dietary supplements until the early-2000s. Also called ma huang, this plant native to Asia has been widely used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. While the plant contains different chemical compounds, its significant effects can be attributed to the alkaloid ephedrine.
What does ephedrine do?
Ephedrine, the primary component of ephedrine pills, reportedly induces central nervous system stimulation, bronchodilation, and vasoconstriction. In layman terms, ephedrine improves breathing, increases heart rate, decreases hunger, and accelerates glycogen and fat burning.
The main reason people take ephedrine as a supplement is to curb their appetite and improve fat burning. Research shows a correlation between improved weight loss and short-term use of ephedrine, ephedrine plus caffeine, and other ephedra supplements. Ephedrine and caffeine have been used together in human obesity treatments. When used together, these two drugs significantly increased metabolism rates than when they were used separately. The central argument, though, is whether these two taken in conjunction are safe.
Further research suggests that people who took ephedrine increased metabolic rates by up to 3.6% more than those of the same study who took placebos. But when ephedrine and caffeine were taken in conjunction while weight training, that increased to 5%. Ephedrine taken for an extended period increases the effectivity of the drug. Conversely, caffeine’s effects diminish with more extended use.
Ephedrine works well for our bodies because of their innate ability to adapt metabolism rate with calorie intake. So, ephedrine taken during a calorie deficit will increase metabolism rate while suppressing hunger and appetite. This translates to fewer calories consumed while losing weight and burning more fat.
Ephedrine side effects
Similar to most stimulants out there, ephedrine has some common side effects that you should anticipate. These include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Spinning sensation or vertigo
- Hand tremors
While these may alarm you, you shouldn’t be too worried. These are among the common side effects of most stimulants, even caffeine. For most ephedrine users, these symptoms should subside after a couple of weeks of repeated use.
Dosage for oral ephedrine
A dose of 12.5 to 25 mg orally every 4 hours, not to exceed 150 mg in 24 hours. The dose to treat nasal congestion in adults is 25 to 50 mg every 6 hours. Children must not exceed a dosage of 75 mg daily.
Is ephedrine safe?
The Food and Drug Administration has actively prohibited companies adding ephedrine into supplements since 2004 for its apparent health “dangers.” Only a very limited range of products can contain ephedrine for cough, asthma, and allergy remediation.
Many professionals classify ephedrine as a dangerous drug for many different reasons. One of those reasons is that taking this drug does not come without risks. However, that can be a tad bit misguided, as most, if not all, medications come with their respective side effects.
In 2004, the FDA reported around 18,000 complaints from people who used this drug. That number can be misleading, as most cases involved people with preexisting health conditions.
Furthermore, other people used ephedrine in addition to several pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, which likely explains the side effects they were experiencing. Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine interact negatively with ephedrine and should be avoided at all costs. Here’s a list of drugs and their interactions with ephedrine.
Ephedrine risk factors
A few medical conditions may interact poorly with ephedrine. Before taking it, you should consult with your physician or doctor if:
- You are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
- You have a family history of:
- heart problems,
- prostate problems,
- adrenal gland problems,
- high blood pressure,
- blood vessel problems,
- thyroid problems,
- or severe asthma.
The consensus around ephedrine is that it’s dangerous and should be avoided. However, it’s quite ironic how a stimulant like caffeine is being used widely, even abused. Like caffeine, ephedrine can be quite beneficial when taken in responsible doses. If not taken as a cocktail with other prescription and illegal drugs, it would be quite promising as a medication or supplement.
However, it’s worth noting that studies on the drug have all but stopped since its prohibition in 2004. New studies and policies must be done and reviewed to ensure the safety of this drug. Nevertheless, before taking anything, you should consult with your physician or attending doctor.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.