Ephedra

Ephedra Altissima Plant Review, Ephedrine Content & Safety

Ephedra AltissimaEphedra altissima is one of dozens of species of plants that belongs to the Ephedraceae family.

This species of the ephedra plant typically grows in the northwestern Africa, and throughout the Mediterranean regions of Morocco, Tunisia, and as far out as the Canary Islands.

The shrub is defined as a climbing shrub with branches that average approximately 2 meters in length.

In countries throughout the Mediterranean, the plant is typically ornamental and is often used in landscaping around homes and businesses. However, it does have some beneficial efficacy as a medicinal plant.

It’s also known as high climbing jointfir. The ephedra altissima species contains a number of components such as flavonoids, tannins, and alkaloids. The stems of a vast majority of ephedra species contain various levels of the ephedrine alkaloid.

The ephedrine alkaloid has long been used (historically and in modern usage) as a treatment for relief of symptoms of asthma such as wheezing, tightness in the chest, and congestion. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.


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Medicinal Benefits of Ephedra Altissima

Historically, and in traditional indigenous and cultural medicinal practices, various cultures have used the ephedra plant and its components to primarily treat lung and breathing issues. Today we know and define those issues as:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis

It can be estimated that these treatments were also applicable to relieving symptoms of the common cold, and could be used for other conditions such as pneumonia, constructive obstructive pulmonary disease, and perhaps even emphysema.

Cultures around the world typically took the portions of the stems and leaves of the plant, dried them, then broke them down into small pieces that would then be brewed in boiling water to create a brew similar to tea.


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Comparison to Ephedra Species

A number of ephedra species have been extensively studied in regard to determining their total phenolic or flavonoid content as well as its alkaloid contents.

A wide disparity occurs between ephedra species depending on geographical location, time of cultivation, and maturity of the plant.

Ephedra altissima is one that has been studied and reports regarding its components have been published in medical journal articles.

Of greatest interest to researchers – as well as dieters, athletes and bodybuilders turning to a number of ephedra species for accelerated weight loss, fat burn, and increased energy – is the presence of its alkaloids.

Primary alkaloids found in a number of ephedra species include:

  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Phenylpropanolamine

Additional alkaloids are also present, but the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are of the most interest to laypeople as well as medical experts in attempting to determine whether E. altissima can aid weight loss.

Unfortunately, specific numbers or levels of the total alkaloids content of the plant are lacking, primarily due to lack of adequate plant materials to study.

When comparing ephedra altissima to other species, it should be noted that higher levels of alkaloids are found in a handful of ephedra species that include Ephedra Sinica, Ephedra distachya and ephedra major.

One scientific article determining the chemical composition of the various species anticipates that the total alkaloids content of the ephedra altissima species as well as several others may be high in total alkaloids content due to their metabolic activity, which can be determined by other components and metabolites including the synthesis of tannins and flavonoids. [1]


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Use for Weight Loss

Turning to ephedra altissima for nonmedical purposes and uses such as weight loss, energy enhancement, and appetite suppressing capabilities may achieve some benefits with use, but probably not as much as expected.

When researching the effect of the ephedrine alkaloids in ephedra as promoting weight loss or decrease in body mass and fat storage, studies have today been rather disappointing.

On average, a person using such products for weight loss can expect to lose between one and two additional pounds a month, which is not much more than a person relying on specifically decreasing caloric intake and increasing levels of exercise.

The mechanism of action of the primary components of more potent species of ephedra include that of ephedrine. Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic amine that has an influence on alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors in the body.

These receptors, when stimulated, can cause blood vessels to constrict, increasing blood pressure. It can also affect heart rate and the force with which the heart contracts.

These activities are perceived to increase energy, and therefore heat production in the creation of energy, and ultimate resulting in increased metabolism. Today’s dieters equate increase metabolism with increased weight loss, but this isn’t always true.

The body, based on lifestyle, body composition, diet, and exercise, determines how it utilizes calories in the creation and consumption of energy.

Of importance to potential users of ephedra altissima or other forms of ephedra for weight loss, energy enhancement, or stimulation, is the concerns for overuse and misuse, which can contribute to a number of undesired side effects.

Safety Issues with Ephedra Altissima

Most forms of ephedra, due to its stimulative effect on the body, can cause a number of changes in body functions. Even at low doses, ephedrine can trigger:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart
  • Upset stomach/nausea
  • Increased sense of jitteriness or nervousness noted in tremors

Other serious side effects are also possible, depending on potency, frequency of use, and length of use. Some reports in medical journals have reported serious adverse health events, especially when forms of ephedra or combined with other stimulant of products such as caffeine.

Doing so increases the risk of potential:

  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Strokes

You won’t find detailed information about all ephedra species, and ephedra altissima happens to be one of those. While it may be brewed into a tea, it is not commonly used in dietary supplements or weight loss pill.


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