Ephedra Foeminea Plant Uses, Side Effects & Ephedrine Content
Ephedra Foeminea is a rare species of the Ephedra shrub, from the Ephedraceae genus of plants. This species grows particularly in North Africa, parts of Europe and the Middle East.
Not all ephedra species are the same, and that includes ephedra foeminea. This specific properties of this plant were recently investigated by botanical researchers and it was found to have the lowest concentration of alkaloids that produce biological effects.
Most of the purported benefits (as well as the health risks) linked to ephedra plants come from their ephedrine alkaloid content. This alkaloid is a sympathomimetic agent that stimulates the nervous system and may work as a weight loss aid.
There is low content of this alkaloid in Ephedra Foeminea species compared to other species of the plant like E. Sincia or E. Distachya. This mean it may have fewer side effects, but may also be less effective for energy and appetite suppression.
Anyone interested in any type of ephedra product for weight loss or other purposes should normally be aware of the difference between ephedra species, and what they contain – or don’t. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Most people think of ephedra supplements as all being the same, but this is not true. There can be significant difference in the effects and benefits depending on the species of the plant used.
Over 60 species of ephedra plant have been identified growing around the world in primarily arid or desert-like geographical locations.
Over 150 synonyms, country specific names, and generic terms have been given to these plants, which can often make it difficult for a consumer to differentiate between one or the other.
Because of the plethora of synonyms, many of the ephedra species are quite similar to other species. The same applies to ephedra foeminea, also known by a number of synonyms including but not limited to:
- Ephedra campylopoda
- Ephedra fragilis
- Ephedra macedonica
The ephedra foeminea species typically grows in the Mediterranean region, most specifically in Italy and Greece, but is also found on the island of Cyprus and in the Middle East in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel. Some reports have identified the species in Saudi Arabia and northeast African regions.
Within these regions, growth can be sparse or abundant, depending on geography and climate. It’s defined as a climbing shrub in these regions, making its habitat along ravines, cliff sides, and arid, rocky environments.
The ephedra foeminea species, like many other species of this herb, does contain the ephedrine alkaloid, but at a significantly lower level than other species.
What affects the phytocomposition of this herb? The degree of potency is determined by numerous factors:
- Growing season
- When harvested
- Portions of the plant used
- Soil condition
- Processing techniques
In most cases, the stems and leaves of ephedra plants are most commonly utilized, although some cultures make use of the roots as well as the small flowers and/or berries that grow on some species, depending on cultural history of medicinal use.
Historic Medicinal Use
As with other cultures around the world, including ancient Chinese traditional medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medical practices, potions, tinctures, and teas brewed from various portions of the ephedra plant have been used in the treatment of respiratory complaints.
Most of these complaints included asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and often as treatment of symptoms caused by the common cold.
The reason for its benefits in such usage is due to many of the components found in many species of the ephedra plant.
It was believed to have energizing and invigorating properties on both the body and the mind. It helped to revitalize the body when sick and to balance the Qi.
Modern use of this plant has largely focused on its potential to help increase the body’s basal metabolic rate. It is believed to support weight loss by suppressing hunger cravings, giving users more energy and drive as well as promoting thermogenesis (conversion of stored calories into heat).
Many of these attributes are linked to the ephedrine content in Ephedra family plants. This alkaloid has not been banned around the world in many countries due to an unreasonably high rate of side effects.
However, Ephedra supplements are still allowed to be sold in the United States for weight loss so long as they don’t contain any of this alkaloid. Thus, manufacturers will remove the alkaloid or use versions of the plant that don’t contain it naturally.
Components of Ephedra Species
Ephedrine is not the only ingredient found in ephedra extract that has physiological effects. It may be the most powerful ingredient identified, but the other alkaloids and plant chemicals also contribute to its mechanisms of action.
A number of studies have been conducted on a variety of ephedra species including E. Foeminea to determine its components. Among them include:
Alkaloids – the primary being ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which behave as stimulants to the sympathetic nervous system, controlling autonomic functions such as cardiac and respiratory rate.
Phenolics – basically defined as organic compounds; commonly the component that gives the plant a scent or aroma.
Flavonoids – a compound found in a number of plant species including numerous vegetables and fruits. Multiple health benefits are noted with flavonoids, primarily their antioxidant benefits.
However, it’s the alkaloids which are of most interest when it comes to not only the ephedra foeminea species of plant, but various forms of ephedra due to its stimulative effect on the central nervous system, primarily the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system, often known as the autonomic system, has an effect on the aforementioned cardiovascular and respiratory functions in the body.
As a stimulant, various species of plants related to ephedra foeminea, are perceived as beneficial in increasing energy, which in turn increases heat production, aka thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is linked to utilization (in some cases) of stored fat or fat destruction known as lipolysis.
According to a study determining the components of a variety of ephedra species, ephedra foeminea ranks fairly low in regard to its content of flavonoids and phenolics. In addition, neither ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are potent in this species.
Therefore, usage of the species of plant for weight loss, its stimulative effects, or energy enhancement are deemed low.  Other species are quite a bit more potent, such as ephedra major or ephedra fragilis.
Comparison to Ephedra Sinica Extract
Finding potent ephedra species require some research. A handful of species are considered quite potent in regard to their alkaloids content. It is these species that are more preferred among users.
One of the most popular is Chinese ephedra, otherwise known as ephedra sinica or Ma Huang. Another popular and potent species belongs to that of the ephedra fragilis and the ephedramajor plants.
When looking for any form of herbal extract weight loss, energy enhancement, or fat burning potential, compare species. While E. foeminea may not be the most potent of the species, it does have some of the same alkaloids and as such, has the potential to contribute to a number of reactions in the body.
Watching for Side Effects
The potential for side effects with the ephedra foeminea species is relatively low, but can still be serious if taken in high dosages or used by people who have medical conditions.
Side effects of those using the components to brew teas for the treatment of respiratory conditions may be closely associated with an individual’s sensitivity to any presence of the ephedrine and/or pseudoephedrine alkaloid.
Other ephedra species, such as those that do contain potent levels of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, have the potential to cause a number of side effects and adverse reactions.
Among the most common include but are not limited to:
- Upset stomach/nausea
- Increased sense of anxiety or nervousness
- Heart palpitations
While the ephedra foeminea species is not deemed particularly potent, any stimulant used for weight loss should be approached with caution and common sense, especially those products that are found online.
Where to Find Ephedra Products
Many of today’s ephedra extract products (with the alkaloids removed) contain extracts from species that are not listed on the ingredient label.
A product that contains extract of ephedra foeminea may not provide any potency, but combined with other ingredients, it could theoretically promote stimulation or heat production in the body. This can contribute to a number of unexpected and negative side effects.
Even though the ephedra foeminea species is generally deemed to be low in benefits for health and wellness, higher than recommended dosages and combination with other stimulants such as caffeine or Bitter Orange can contribute to side effects.