Energy Pills with Ephedra – Safe Herb or BANNED Drug?
Ephedra energy pills can increase alertness, boost focus and help users stay awake without feeling fatigued.
Ephedra works as an energy-boosting supplement because it contains ephedrine
, a natural plant alkaloid that has stimulant effects.
This alkaloid is significantly more powerful than caffeine for providing all-day energy, stamina and concentration. It also helps with weight loss by increasing metabolism and fat burning.
Thousands of students, bodybuilders, athletes and everyday people took ephedrine to boost energy, give them extreme motivation and help drop unwanted bodyfat. However, these products could also increase blood pressure and caused dangerous side effects in some users.
While the original energy pills with ephedra and ephedrine are now banned, there are legal alternatives that work in the same way and promote similar effects. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Energy Pills with Ephedra
Energy pills with ephedra were very popular in the 1980s and 90s, used by tens of thousands of people for weight loss.
Products like Yellow Jackets energy pills, Mini Thins, Metabolife 356, Xenadrine, Lipodrene and Hydroxycut were some of the best-selling brands of ephedrine supplements.
These supplements worked because ephedrine has amphetamine-like properties that can result in stimulation of the Central Nervous System. This compound stimulates receptors in the body in a similar fashion to adrenaline.
In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids citing an unreasonable risk of adverse reactions.
While effective for increasing energy levels, ephedra was also found to raise blood pressure and put strain on the circulatory system. Many people can tolerate short-term use without serious side effects, but in some people this excess strain on the heart could be dangerous.
To this day, there has been a lot of confusion and controversy regarding this decision in the sports and nutrition world, with many consumers thinking this was an example of FDA overreach.
After all, ephedra tea has been consumed for its energy-enhancing properties for over 3,000 years. In the Old West, pioneers brewed tea from one ephedra plant species as an alternative to coffee.
In the US, it was known by a number of names such as Mormon Tea, Cowboy Tea, and Squaw Tea. This energy drink became popular with Mormons who were prohibited from drinking caffeine but could use Ephedra as a substitute.
History of Ephedra Supplements
A brief background about ephedra and its alkaloids, and why they were banned in the first place, is warranted.
Ephedra is an evergreen shrub that grows around mostly dry, arid regions around the world. Parts of the plant have been used for thousands of years by Chinese medical practitioners for the treatment of a variety of ailments.
Most uses were relegated to lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, but it was also used to reduce symptoms of fevers and chills and general aches and pains.
In the early 1900’s, the ephedrine alkaloid was isolated from this plant and was developed as an asthma medication and cold remedy. This drug was widely used to treat nasal congestion, bronchospasm and other breathing properties.
By the 1970’s, researchers had begun investigating the energy-boosting and fat-burning properties of the drug. As more and more athletes became aware of this substance, its popularity grew fast.
According to some sources, energy pills with ephedra were one of the top-selling dietary supplement ingredients during the 1990’s. However, as more and more people misused the supplement or took it in dangerously high doses, there was a growing list of negative effects attributed to this herbal stimulant.
The main alkaloid constituents of ephedra that trigger the stimulatory effects is the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine components. Both are defined as non-selective alpha and beta receptor agonists and both directly and indirectly stimulate the sympathetic nervous system.
In 2004, due to increasing reports of adverse side effects and complications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a ruling prohibiting the sale of supplements with the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine alkaloids.
In February of this year, they published their Final Rule Declaring Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids Adulterated Because They Present an Unreasonable Risk in the Federal Register. 
How Does Ephedrine Boost Energy?
Prior to this ban, ephedrine was a component found in hundreds of over-the-counter energy and weight loss supplements. It works because it stimulates the nervous system in the same way as endogenous adrenaline.
Adrenaline is the hormone that gets released during times of excitement, stress, danger or fear. When adrenaline surges through the body, it promotes an intense burst of energy in preparation of responding to some external threat.
Adrenaline is primarily responsible for triggering our “fight or flight response” and has a significant influence on blood pressure, heart rate, cardiovascular output, and cognitive function. It boosts blow flow and causes our cells to make more energy available so we can act in the face of danger.
Ephedrine has an indirect effect on adrenergic receptors, which are the same type of neural receptors that respond to the effects of adrenaline. The result is a boost in mental and physical energy levels, causing individuals to feel more alert and focused.
In addition to providing an energy boost, this compound also promotes weight loss by causing the body’s metabolic rate to increase. It does this through a mechanism known as thermogenesis.
Ephedrine also triggers the release of norepinephrine as well as dopamine in the brain, affecting the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls a number of functions in the body including:
- Cardiovascular function
- Respiration (breathing)
- Digestion processes
- Metabolic system
- Executive brain functions (attentional control, focus, motivation)
This effect has an influence on the digestive system by reducing appetite. When the body is in flight/survival mode, non-vital functions are inhibited through hormonal signaling to save energy for more important functions.
One of the effects of adrenergic receptor activation is to inhibition appetite or sensations of hunger. Users often say that they have no desire to eat when using ephedra supplements, which can support fat loss.
Another effect of the ephedra alkaloids is to increase blood pressure (systolic and diastolic), heart rate, and strength of heart contractions. Ephedrine also causes constriction of peripheral blood vessels and has a dilating effect on the bronchioles of the lungs, increasing air intake.
This increased circulation, nutrient delivery and oxygenation can be beneficial for athletes by boosting stamina as well as contributing to increased alertness.
Ephedrine used by itself or combined with caffeine may improve anaerobic exercise energy output and performance due to the release of catecholamines.
Using Energy Pills to Lose Weight
How effective are energy pills with ephedra for weight loss? Multiple studies have established that this herbal extract can improve weight management results when combined with diet and exercise.
In one study, ephedrine combined with caffeine was shown to increase a person’s resting energy expenditure (REE) . This can affect weight loss by causing individuals to burn more calories when at rest.
A handful of clinical trials have determined that combinations of ephedrine and caffeine can promote a modest amount of short-term weight loss, accounting for approximately 0.9 kg per month .
A person with only a few pounds to lose may find more success when using ephedrine HCL energy pills than someone who is severely overweight or obese. Individual sensitivity to the stimulants can also impact results as well as safety.
While ephedra can increase fat burning in your body and raise your resting metabolism, it should not be thought of as a long-term strategy for maintaining weight loss results.
This supplement promotes a quick burst of energy especially if taken prior to a workout and helps to control your appetite. As an energy pill, it can make it easier for you to achieve your weight loss goals, but you need to be willing to make healthy diet and lifestyle choices as well.
How to Use Safely
What is a safe dosage of ephedrine energy-boosting pills to take? Note that this drug is not safe for everyone to use and you should check with a doctor first to determine whether it is appropriate for you.
Standard medicinal dosages for this product range from 12.5 mg to 75 mg per day. As a clinical therapy for the treatment of asthma, it is used for short periods of time at 15-30 mg three times daily.
In a weight loss or cutting cycle, this stimulant is typically used in a dosage of 25mg or 50 mg per day. Some websites recommend higher doses up to 100 or 150 mg per day, but levels this high can cause serious side effects.
Ephedrine has a 3-6 hour half-life and most people will repeat their dosages two or three times daily to accommodate this.
Because this stimulate can make you feel more awake and interfere with sleep patterns, it is recommended to use it early in the day. Taking it too close to bedtime can cause insomnia.
It is recommended that new users start at a low threshold dose to gauge effectiveness and tolerance. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine and other stimulants, users may start at 4 or 8 mg, gradually increasing to a full dose over one week. Start with one tablet of ephedrine HCL preferably with meals, taken roughly 30 minutes prior to a workout to see how the body reacts.
For fat loss and energy enhancement, this compound is typically combined with caffeine in an EC Stack. An ECA stack which also uses Aspirin is another option. Dosages of 100 – 400 mg of caffeine have been used.
Anyone purchasing an ephedra extract supplement should determine the dosage based on the active ephedrine alkaloids found in the extract. Forms of ephedra herbal supplements sold in the US today no longer contain this alkaloid, however.
Determining a safe dosage range is largely subjective, although there have been some clinical studies conducted to evaluate the tolerability of this herb. Body weight, health status, activity level, cardiovascular function, sensitivity and more can influence safe usage.
Energy pills that conatin ephedrine and ephedra also often contain other ingredients that have stimulant effects,such as Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) which contains p-synephrine.
Where to Buy Ephedra Pills
In the United States, you can still legally buy some forms of ephedra and ephedrine. However, products marketed as energy pills are not allowed to contain the ephedrine alkaloids under FDA policy.
You can buy ephedrine HCL or sulfate in medications used to treat asthma and breathing conditions. These drugs are sold over-the-counter in pharmacies in most states in the country.
Many bodybuilders will purchase these nasal decongestants and asthma remedies to use in their ECA stacks for pre-workout energy and fat loss. However, these pills often contain additives and other medicinal ingredients like guaifenesin which can interfere with the energy-boosting effects.
It is legal for companies to sell energy pills with ephedra extract, but these products must have their ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids removed. Another option is to use a species of ephedra that does not naturally contain any alkaloids.
These products may have energy-boosting effects, but they will not be as effective as the real ephedrine alkaloids. This is similar to drinking de-caffeinated coffee to increase energy levels. Most of these supplements combine their inert ephedra extract with other ingredients like yohimbine, synephrine or theobromine to boost energy and metabolism.
These legal forms of ephedra supplements are difficult to find in stores like GNC, Amazon, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid. But they are sold by a number of specialty supplement vendors including Ephedra Warehouse and Ephedra Outlet.
Some of the brands of popular energy pills with Ephedra Sinica that may also be beneficial for weight loss include:
- Green Stinger – manufactured by Schwartz Labs and contains 27 mg ephedra extract
- Yellow Devils – manufactured by American Generic Labs (AGL) and contains 25 mg ephedra leaf extract
- Black Mamba – manufactured by Innovative Labs, contains 65 mg og “Thermo Z” ephedra leaf extract
Another popular product is the Rhino Rush Energy Shots and Drinks containing ephedra. While these drinks do not contain real ephedrine, they do have other ingredients that can boost focus, weight loss and motivation.
You may be able to find energy pills with pure ephedrine HCL from foreign sources, but be aware of the legal restrictions and your country’s import and export customs regulations. Banned products are often confiscated at the border or through postal services, depending on the laws in your country of residence.
Side Effects of Energy Pills
Not everyone experiences side effects when using ephedra pills to boost energy levels, although some people have responded negatively to this product.
Furthermore, as a dietary supplement this ingredient was commonly abused and taken at dosages many times higher than what was recommended.
The side effects linked to ephedrine use are the same as those associated with other stimulants. This compound is significantly more potent than caffeine and can cause similar adverse reactions, but to a higher degree.
Some of the most common side effects associated with ephedrine HCL energy tablets include:
- Jitters or muscle shakiness
- Accelerated heart rate
- Nausea or the upset stomach
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased anxiety, worrying or irritability
Additional side effects reported include headaches, sweating, tremors, dizziness, psychological side effects, euphoria, depression, rapid breathing, diarrhea, lack of appetite and changes in cardiovascular function.
An increased heart rate is not uncommon, especially within an hour of consumption. While the rapid heart rate is temporary, it can trigger other issues that affect overall cardiac health if the product is used at higher dosages or taken for long periods of time.
Ephedrine can increase blood pressure, putting additional strain on the circulatory system and the heart. While this does not appear to occur with single-use of the drug at low doses in healthy people, individuals who are obese or who have a history of heart problems are at greater risk of experiencing this side effect.
Individuals with any medical condition should check with a doctor before taking this product, especially those diagnosed with any cardiovascular issue or taking blood pressure medication.
More serious side effects and interactions can occur in people using other drugs, including over-the-counter as well as prescription medications. Do not take ephedrine pills if you are currently using MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors).
Some combinations of supplements as well as drugs can increase the effect of the prescription or over-the-counter drug. Others can alter a drug’s mechanism of action and render it ineffective. 
Use cation when combining this supplement with other substances that can affect energy levels, including coffee, sodas and foods that contain caffeine.
There are a number of precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of side effects. The most important is to use safe dosages of this product and to avoid over-using it.
Because of the stimulatory effect, use of energy pills with ephedra can make it difficult to fall asleep. Some experience insomnia or poor sleep quality. Experienced users recommend not taking any pills after midafternoon to avoid this side effect.
Many people experience gastrointestinal discomfort and related side effects after taking a dosage. Nausea sensations may be reduced if the pills are taken with meals.
This product should not be taken by any women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Use is contraindicated in individuals who are under the age of 18. Check with a doctor before using this stimulant to determine whether it is safe for you.
Energy pills that contain ephedrine or ephedra may help by temporarily giving you a surge in motivation, focus and alertness. They can also boost weight loss, athletic performance and mood. However, there is a potential for serious side effects if they are misused or taking by people with pre-existing medical conditions.
- Vukovich MD, Schoorman R, Heilman C, Jacob P 3rd, Benowitz NL. Caffeine-herbal ephedra combination increases resting energy expenditure, heart rate and blood pressure. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2005 Jan-Feb;32(1-2):47-53.
- Max H Pittler and Edzard Ernst. Dietery supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr April 2004 vol. 79 no. 4 529-536
- Vanderbilt University Health Psychology Home Page. Ephedrine: Banned by the FDA 2004. Kelly Roseberry. 2005
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions.