Why Can you Still Buy Ephedra Supplements Online? [Suprising Legal Status]
Before the ban of ephedra and ephedra alkaloids by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004, ephedra and ephedrine products were among the most popular on store shelves. Millions of dollars were made and hundreds of products and brands were out there.
Today, ephedra is making a comeback, although without its alkaloids. Nevertheless, before you buy ephedra, it’s important to determine legalities, be aware of its side effects, and as always, compared products for quality, accuracy, and reputation.
Can you still buy ephedra? It depends on where you live. Since 2004, the ephedra alkaloids have been banned in the United States and other countries around the world due to potential side effects. However, if the alkaloids have been removed, the simple answer is, yes, you can still buy ephedra diet pills and fat burners in the US.
The ephedra plant grows around the world, and its components have been used for thousands of years in folklore medicine to treat a variety of ailments. But before you buy ephedra supplements, be aware that dozens of species of the ephedra plant exist.
For those looking to buy pure ephedra extract, Asian sources are the most likely, as the plant, known as Chinese ephedra, Ma Huang, or by its scientific name, ephedra sinica, has been used by Asian cultures for over 5,000 years to treat symptoms of bronchitis, asthma, allergies, and more.
Potential users should note however, that such traditional usage of ephedra did not apply to its use as a weight loss or energy-producing product.
Ephedra Supplements for Sale
All ephedra species are not the same. Each species can contain potent alkaloids such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or none at all. Before comparing ephedra price considerations, or looking for cheap ephedra or you’re looking to buy pure ephedra, know the difference between some of the most common species of this plant.
The Chinese ephedra, more commonly known as ephedra sinica or Ma Huang, is one of the few of the plant family that have the greatest potency in regard to its alkaloid components. Also, be aware of the different names, herbal and otherwise that are associated with ephedra.
In the United States, a number of ephedra species also grow, including the Americana, the vulgaris, the nevadensis, and viridis species. Each has different components as well as varying levels or potency of those components.
Before you buy ephedra, try to find out which species of ephedra you’re purchasing. A number of popular and current ephedra products on the market today do contain ephedra in different milligram strengths. However, the majority of product labels neglect to specify which species of the ephedra plant that their ephedra extract components come from.
The American species of ephedra nevadensis contains little to no alkaloids as compared to the ephedra sinica species, such as:
Many of the ephedra family of plants also contain a number of flavonoids and tannins that can be beneficial for health, but again, milligram strength, dosage recommendations, and usages differ.
When looking to buy ephedra, whether you want the purest possible or cheap ephedra, it’s also important to be aware what portion of the plant has been used to create the product.
The fruit, the leaves, stems, and even the roots have been used in a variety of traditional folklore medicine, but again, the level of alkaloids found in different portions of the plant also differ.
How Does Ephedra Work?
The ephedra mechanism of action of the more potent species behave as alpha and beta-adrenergic agonists. Agonists are something that influences, triggers, or initiates some type of response in the body.
The stimulative effect of ephedra extract or ephedra alkaloids will once again depend on the species of plant. Overall, ephedra is noted to produce an increase in metabolism. This is equated by many to also result in enhanced energy, fat burn, and weight loss.
Primarily, ephedra and the ephedra alkaloids such as ephedrine, stimulate the central nervous system and can have an influence over a number of autonomic functions in the body including but not limited to:
- Heart rate
Experiences by ephedra users differ depending on sensitivity to the stimulative components, the species of the plant used, and of course, its potency.
Where to Buy Ephedra
Before you buy ephedra, be aware of legalities in your country. In the United States, and since 2004, ephedra alkaloids have been banned. They continue to be banned.
In Canada, ephedra extract is not allowed, but the ephedrine alkaloid is, as long as it doesn’t go over a certain milligram strength. The same applies to other countries; some allow ephedra extract and others don’t, while some allow the alkaloid/s but in limited potency, and most commonly, with a prescription.
Today, US consumers will find a number of ephedra products on the market, although the alkaloids have been removed. Typically, the label will state that ephedra extract is a primary component. Different milligrams strengths of ephedra weight loss and energy promoting products are available in range from 10 mg to 65 mg or more.
Whenever possible, attempt to determine the species of ephedra used in a particular product. For example, when you buy popular ephedra products in the US today, consumers may find some that claim to provide high amounts of ephedra.
In some cases, these higher amounts equate to use of the American species such as ephedra viridis or ephedra nevadensis, which are not nearly as potent in regard to properties as is the Chinese Ma Huang or ephedra sinica species.
Over 150 plant names are recognized in regard to ephedra, although approximately 67 of them have accepted species names.  These names and classifications can cause some confusion in various products, especially when they’re not correctly identified.
Options in regard to where you can buy ephedra are nearly limitless, especially online. Among the most common sellers of ephedra products, where consumers can buy ephedra, compare ephedra price points, and buy pure ephedra or relatively cheap ephedra, differ widely:
When comparing ephedra products as well as price, take the time to compare not only the ephedra content, but the other ingredients contained in the product.
A number of ephedra extract products available on the market today, including those found in the US, have substituted other stimulatory ingredients in place of the ephedra alkaloids (primarily ephedrine).
Some of those ingredients can be just as dangerous in regard to its stimulative effect on the cardiovascular and nervous system as ephedrine. Such products include but are not limited to:
- Bitter Orange (contains p-synephrine, which behaves in a similar manner as ephedrine)
- High milligram strengths of caffeine anhydrous (dried, powdered form of caffeine)
Do be aware that many websites claiming to sell genuine or pure ephedra with ephedrine are doing so illegally. Some of these products are even outdated and can potentially be left over from before the ban of 2004 took effect.
What does Ephedra Cost – Cheap Ephedra/Ephedra Price)
When it comes to comparing ephedra price points, and cost of ephedra, online searches will provide a number of options, not only in the form of ephedra, but the milligram strength and other components found in the ingredients.
Ephedra cost will depend on how the product is sold. Today, it’s not uncommon to find ephedra tea (Ma Huang tea), as well as in tablets, capsules, or liquid drops. Milligram strength from different manufacturers will also have an influence on ephedra price.
You can find cheap ephedra throughout the Internet, but as always, look for quality. This can be difficult to determine, as many of the products are manufactured and available today (online and off) that contain “proprietary blends” that can make it difficult to determine exactly which species of ephedra has been used as well as the milligram strength of the components in that blend.
On average, ephedra diet pills average $40-$60 per bottle, depending on manufacturer and brand. For example:
- Lipodrene with ephedra: $39 for 100 tablets
- Green Stinger: $50 for 120 capsules
- Stimamine Black: $60 for 90 caplets
Most of the ephedra products marketed today are rated for their appetite suppressing capability, their thermogenic effects, and their potential in increasing strength or energy and stamina.
Does It Work for Weight Loss and Boost in Energy?
As mentioned, different ephedra species contain different strengths of their primary compounds. The primary component of pure ephedra (and should be made aware of when you buy pure ephedra) is ephedrine. Because ephedrine acts as a mimetic compound, it can promote thermogenic properties.
It is not uncommon today to find individuals combining use of ephedra with other sources of caffeine, which have been reputed to accelerate weight loss, although that weight loss is relatively modest and short-term.
According to some studies, a person using ephedra for weight loss may experience varied results, not only due to the ephedra/ephedrine components found in it, but that are also influenced by diet and exercise.
A 2003 study determined that expectations in regard to weight loss can approximate 0.9 kg/mo over that of a person who is not using ephedra in clinical trials.  To date, lack of definitive evidence supporting use of ephedra for either weight-loss or athletic performance enhancement is prevalent.
When combined with another source of caffeine, weight loss expectations may rise slightly, but again, rather short term in nature. No clinical studies involving use of ephedra have been conducted to last longer than four to six months.
Another small study did determine that use of Ma Huang and kola nut supplements in varying milligram strengths as well as potency of ephedra, and in addition to other sources of caffeine could produce some weight loss averaging approximately 5 kg in body weight, which equates to approximately 11 pounds over six months. 
All in all, use of ephedra and ephedrine may promote slight weight loss, but that weight loss is temporary in nature and is typically not sustainable unless lifestyle habits and exercise also change.
What about Dosage Recommendations?
Consistent dosage recommendations for use of ephedra are lacking, mainly due to the wide variety of products available on the market today, as well as its ingredients.
In medical scenarios, dosage is quite a bit lower than that used by individuals for non-medical reasons. According to drugs.com, a dosage exceeding 32 mg a day can increase the risk – and have – resulted in negative and adverse reactions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an herbalist prescribing ephedra to a patient may suggest anywhere from 8 mg to 100 mg of ephedra orally three times daily. However, over-the-counter products that contain ephedra ranged between 12.5 and 25 mg of ephedra (orally) every four to six hours common with cautions not to go over 150 mg in 24 hours. 
Individuals using ephedra supplements or Ma Huang typically dose with 1 mg per kilogram body weight (of ephedrine) approximately 90 minutes prior to exercise. This dosage was given once weekly for no longer than four weeks. 
Because of the stimulative effect however, individuals may react differently. Even low doses of ephedra and its alkaloids found in products can trigger side effects, adverse reactions, and interactions.
Considering Safety – What about Those Side Effects?
A number of consumers as well as dietary supplement manufacturers continue to believe that the restrictions placed on ephedra and its usage by the US Food and Drug Administration (and other government agencies around the globe) have overstepped their bounds. It is claimed that when used properly, ephedra does not have much of a risk associated with its use.
However, misuse, overuse, and abuse of such supplements is common.
While opinions regarding the ban of ephedra alkaloids still controversial, careful study from medical resources is advised for individuals with the tendency to scoff at the potential for negative side effects associated with use of ephedra and how its alkaloids can affect the body.
The same applies to the increased use of substituted herbal ingredients in higher than recommended milligram strengths to replace the effects of ephedrine in such products.
A number of studies have been conducted on ephedra, and before you buy ephedra from any source, be aware of those side effects. It has been determined that ephedra can trigger a rise in blood pressure, as well as blood sugar levels.
Individuals diagnosed with any medical condition should discuss use of the product before purchasing ephedra, especially when it’s combined with other stimulants that include coffee, soda, or other herbs.
Unfortunately for many, the side effects associated with ephedra products, even without ephedrine or its alkaloids, can prove dangerous to some users. This is because of the other ingredients now substituting for ephedrine, including that of Bitter Orange.
A Word About Bitter Orange
Bitter Orange, also known as Citrus aurantium, is also known to provide a stimulatory effect, which gives those hoping to lose weight a boost in their efforts. As with Ma Huang or ephedra sinica, Bitter Orange (Zhi Shi) has been used in traditional folklore or medicine for thousands of years.
Indigenous people of the Amazon used Bitter Orange to treat nausea and indigestion, while traditional Chinese medicine practitioners used it to treat constipation! Even today, Bitter Orange sold as a supplement can be used as a decongestant, for heartburn, and for weight loss.
Bitter Orange contains a component known as p-synephrine, which has similar characteristics and behaviors as ephedra and the ephedra alkaloids. Like ephedra, Bitter Orange has the potential to increase blood pressure and has also been associated with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
A relatively large clinical study of the effects of Bitter Orange extract was conducted on 360 individuals using p-synephrine by itself or combined with other ingredients. The study noted that approximately half of the individuals were overweight or obese. Some used Bitter Orange by itself while others combined it with caffeine.
Results? The study determined that when used alone, the Bitter Orange extract (p-synephrine) and sometimes combined with other herbal ingredients, experienced gained little in any drastic side effects, although it only provided modest increase in weight loss. The individuals took the product for anywhere between six to 12 weeks. 
Even so, ephedra and ephedra sold today containing alkaloids have been noted for increased risk of adverse reactions including gastrointestinal events, heart palpitations, autonomic malfunctions, and psychiatric side effects.
According to one study, one of the most common effects was a sympathomimetic toxicity, especially when combined with caffeine. 
Side Effects and Safety
A number of the more common side effects associated with ephedra usage include but are not limited to:
- Jitteriness – this defines an overall feeling of nervousness and may cause the hands to shake. For some, this sensation of jitteriness is extremely uncomfortable and can be alarming.
- Accelerated heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting
In most cases, the minor side effects experienced with ephedra usage are temporary. However, depending on milligram strength, dosage frequency, and length of use, a number of more serious side effects may be experienced.
Some of those side effects include but are not limited to:
- Tachycardia (accelerated heart rate or racing heart that last for more than a few minutes and occurs frequently during use)
- Possible stroke or seizures
- Myocardial infarction
- Psychiatric symptoms
- Ischemic colitis
It should also be noted that other negative and alarming side effects are also possible, including liver toxicity when used for weight loss. In the average of cases, use of the product for longer than 12 weeks can increase the risk of hepatotoxicity or liver injury. 
This toxicity can be associated with the more potent versions of the ephedra plant, but more studies are required to determine the overall safety of such products in regard to liver function.
There have been cases written up regarding acute hepatitis, jaundice, and severe abdominal discomfort among otherwise healthy individuals, even among those taking no other medications, using alcohol, or other factors that would increase the risk for hepatitis. 
A number of reports written up in medical journals and in case studies have cautioned users of the potential and negative side effects of ephedra usage. Many of these cases involve young, otherwise healthy men and women.
Yes, you can still buy ephedra. You can buy pure ephedra and you can buy cheap ephedra, but comparison-shopping, discretion, and common sense is also applicable to use.
When used short-term and according to product label instructions, most people will probably not experience severe side effects of the product, although sensitivity will differ.
In a variety of cases, there are risks of use and ephedra side effects can outweigh the benefits. Nevertheless, ephedra continues to be one of the more popular dietary and weight-loss supplements available on the market. Even though the ephedra alkaloids have been removed in most cases, be aware of the dangers of the ingredients used to substitute the ephedra, as mentioned.
Can you still buy ephedra? Yes, but always read the label of ingredients, and start any new product at the lowest dosage possible to determine how your body will respond.
No herbal product, including pure ephedra, will produce results for weight loss all on its own. Appropriate diet and increased levels or intensity of exercise may also be required to produce long-term weight loss and maintenance.
Cheap ephedra is available at the click of the mouse, but be aware that in many cases, ingredients are lacking in quality, government oversight, and safety.
Even those who look to buy pure ephedra can be fooled by false advertising, inaccurate labels, and in some cases, ingredients that are not found on the label.
Bottom line? Before you buy ephedra, balance your expectations with the potential for negative side effects.
- The Plant List. Ephedra. Species in Ephedra
- Shekelle PG, Hardy ML, Morton SC, Maglione M, Mojica WA, Suttorp MJ, Rhodes SL, Jungvig L, Gagné J. Efficacy and safety of ephedra and ephedrine for weight loss and athletic performance: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2003 Mar 26;289(12):1537-45. Epub 2003 Mar 10.
- Boozer CN, Daly PA, Homel P, Solomon JL, Blanchard D, Nasser JA, Strauss R, Meredith T. Herbal ephedra/caffeine for weight loss: a 6-month randomized safety and efficacy trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 May;26(5):593-604.
- Mayo Clinic. Christina Seluzicki. Princeton Journal of Bioethics. Regulation of Dietary Supplemental Usage by Hospitals: An Ethical Mandate?
- Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. A review of the human clinical studies involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine. Int J Med Sci. 2012;9(7):527-38. Epub 2012 Aug 29.
- Chiara Di Lorenzo et al. Adverse effects of plant food supplements and botanical preparations: a systemic review with critical evaluation of causality. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr; 79(4): 578–592. Published online 2014 Sep 24. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12519
- U.S. national Library of Medicine. LiverTox. Drug Record. Ma Huang (Ephedra Sinica)