Ephedra for Weight Loss: HUGE RESULTS… But Risk of Side Effects
What is the best way to take Ephedra for weight loss? Ephedra is an herb that has been shown to increase metabolism and reduce appetite.
Ephedra Sinica (also known as Ma Huang) contains a phytochemical known as ephedrine that stimulates the nervous system in a similar way to adrenaline.
It causes energy levels to increase, boosts oxygen delivery throughout the body and enhances thermogenesis – which is the burning of calories to make heat. Ephedra is even more powerful when taken with caffeine for weight loss.
Altogether, these effects can contribute to producing a calorie deficit. In research studies, use of ephedra or an ECA stack was shown to promote greater fat loss per month compared to a placebo.
However, this herb can be misused and abused. It can cause serious side effects if it is taken in high doses by putting excess strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. Read on to learn what you need to know before taking ephedra to lose weight. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Using Ephedra for Weight Loss
Ephedra refers to a genus of plants composed of 60 different identified species. The plant grows in different locations around the world, mostly in dry and desert-like climates.
It prefers sunny arid, low-moisture, low-rain parts of China, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, South America, the United States and Mexico.
The ephedra plant has been called the world’s oldest medicinal herb. It has been used for generations in the treatment of breathing problems. It is commonly brewed into a tea but has also been used in foods.
It is one of the most important herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine for asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, the common cold, flus and fevers. The plant extract has also been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine and there are historical references to its use by the ancient Egyptians as well as indigenous Amazon tribes.
Given it’s plus two millennia year history of use, it may be surprising to learn that ephedra was only recognized for promoting weight loss in the 1970’s.
In the early 1900’s, the ephedrine alkaloid was isolated from this plant and developed into a pharmaceutical agent for the treatment of asthma, nasal congestion and other lung conditions.
During a 1970 clinical trial in Denmark, a general practitioner noticed that his asthma patients using the drug began to lose weight even without trying. Follow-up studies soon demonstrated that use of ephedrine with caffeine could promote weight reduction and anti-obesity effects.
Ephedra was quickly adopted by bodybuilders, athletes and dieters across many different countries as a potent energy-boosting diet aid. It became one of the top-selling dietary supplements throughout the world.
While this herbal extract could increase metabolism and support weight loss goals, it also had a tendency for producing adverse reactions. Using this diet pill at standard dosages could produce the same stimulant side effects associated with drinking too much coffee.
However, at higher doses and when taken by people with medical conditions, it posed a greater risk of causing dangerous events like heart attack, stroke, seizure or even death.
As a result, it was removed from the market ad banned from dietary supplements sold worldwide. There are still some forms of ephedra supplements that are legal in the US, but these have their ephedra alkaloids removed and don’t work in the same way.
Reviews of How Ephedra Works
Ephedra works for weight loss because it causes you to burn more calories in everything that you do. It raises your total energy expenditure by between 4-10%, depending on dosage and other supplements used.
How does ephedra increase metabolic rate and is this mechanism of action safe? Alkaloids in this plant increase thermogenesis in the body, which is the burning of calories to produce body heat.
One of the most potent species of this plant is Ephedra sinica, also known as Ma Huang or Chinese ephedra. This species has a high concentration of alkaloids such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
These alkaloids stimulate the central and sympathetic nervous system, which has an influence over functions including heart rate, metabolism, respiration, digestion and more. It causes the following:
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Opening of airways in the lungs
- Increased oxygenation
- Increase circulation throughout the body
- Higher body temperature
- Headaches, sometimes severe.
- Nausea or a feeling of upset stomach linked to its effects as an appetite suppressant.
- Jitters or fidgeting, commonly noted as tremors in the hands. Some describe a feeling of “jumping out of one’s skin” or as sensation of restlessness.
- Anxiety or nervousness due to increase activation of the nervous system.
- Accelerated heart rate (tachycardia) – typically brief, but can last beyond discontinuation of use.
- Difficulty sleeping or restless sleep.
- Heart palpitations
- Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Changes in mood or behavior (irritation or agitation)
- Dehydration or dry mouth
- Chest pain/tightness
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment. Number 76. Ephedra and Ephedrine for Weight loss and Athletic Performance Enhancement: Clinical Efficacy and Side Effects
- 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.
- Beauchamp GA, Johnson AR, Crouch BI, Valento M, Horowitz BZ, Hendrickson RG. A Retrospective Study of Clinical Effects of Powdered Caffeine Exposure Reported to Three US Poison Control Centers. J Med Toxicol. 2016 Sep;12(3):295-300. doi: 10.1007/s13181-016-0545-9. Epub 2016 Apr 4.
- New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Ephedra
Ephedrine can bind to and stimulate certain sub-classes of adrenergic receptors, which is the type of receptor that detects the release of adrenaline (epinephrine).
This is a neurohormone that is involved in the fight or flight response, which gives us a surge of energy in times of stress, danger or fear. When these receptors get activated, it causes a burst of concentration, greater alertness and stamina.
Ephedrine also has the potential to trigger the release of norephedrine (noradrenaline), which is a related neurotransmitter that affects mood, arousal, focus, and metabolism. It causes blood vessels and airways to dilate, while causing arteries that supply the heart to constrict.
This facilitates greater air intake, oxygenation of the blood, increased circulation and nutrient delivery to the most vital organs of the body as well as the muscles. Athletes use this supplement before working out because it boosts performance and ability to work out at high intensity levels.
All of these changes result in greater energy metabolism, meaning that you expend more energy. This supplement makes some users feel flush with heat, increases pulse and produces a jittery feeling.
Consumers should be aware that increased heart rate doesn’t necessarily equate to increased weight loss. If you continue to overeat when using this product and do not achieve a calorie deficit, weight will not be reduced.
However, in research studies this herbal extract has been shown to both suppress appetite and boost weight loss results. The effects will be modest if not combined with diet and adequate amounts of exercise.
Weight Loss Study Results
What does science have to say about ephedra for weight-loss results? Several clinical studies have examined its potential to aid fat burning with some benefits noted.
In one study, use of popular ephedra supplements was found to promote modest weight loss, equating to approximately two pounds more in one month than someone who took an inactive placebo. 
In studies where ephedra was combined with caffeine, greater results were achieved with an average increase in short-term weight loss of 0.9 kg per month. 
In another study of 57 overweight participants, subjects were given 25mg ephedrine HCL with 200mg caffeine three times daily. There was a reduction in triglyceride levels and an increase in good HDL cholesterol levels, suggesting potential for improved cardiovascular health.
There was also a decrease in bodyweight of 6.6% after twelve weeks among the group taking the EC Stack. According to the study, body fat was reduced by 6%, suggesting that this supplement primarily works by increasing lipolysis (fat breakdown).
A fourth study looked at results in 5 overweight females taking 20mg of ephedrine three times daily for up to 12 weeks. After the first four weeks, the average weight loss was 2.5 kg and after 12 weeks it was 5.5 kg. This amounted to an average total fat loss of 3.5-5.3%.
This study also showed that metabolic rate was significantly increased among those in the treatment group, as assessed by measuring oxygen consumption.
These studies show that ephedra can improve weight reduction efforts and contribute to a faster metabolism. It is reliably able to boost fat loss in most people who take it.
Combining Ephedra and Caffeine
In research studies, the combination of ephedra or ephedrine pills with caffeine tends to improve potential fat loss over the treatment period.
Caffeine can be found in many forms, including coffee, cola drinks, green tea, some foods and as a dry, anhydrous powder that is often found as an ingredient in ephedra products today.
Caffeine is a methylxanthine stimulant that increases activity in the CNS, much like ephedrine. It contributes to greater fat loss on its own as well as controlling appetite.
Caffeine and ephedra appear to be synergistic, meaning that their combined effect is greater than their individual effect. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, which have a inhibitory effect on the nervous system.
As a result, use of caffeine can augment the stimulatory mechanism of ephedrine. This stack also can include Aspirin which increases the signaling response to beta-adrenergic receptor stimulation.
Powdered caffeine has become one of the most popular additions to ephedra products for energy and weight loss. However, overuse of this ingredient can can contribute to potential caffeine toxicity. 
Ephedra Supplements Comparison
How do the ephedra fat burners that are legal today compare to the original forms of this supplement? Ephedra extract can legally be used in dietary supplements only if it is free of any alkaloids like ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
A number of species of this plant contain very little to no alkaloids such as the above-mentioned ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. In particular, the American species E. Viridis and E. Nevadensis have low alkaloid content.
These are the species that are typically used in ephedra supplements sold following the FDA ban. If these supplements don’t contain any real ephedrine can they work for weight loss? It depends.
If you are taking a supplement that contains pure ephedra extract with no alkaloids, it will likely be minimally effective. However, most of the diet pills sold today contain other ingredients that are herbal substitutes to the banned ephedrine alkaloids.
One of the more potent stimulants that is used as a substitute is Bitter Orange (citrus aurantium). Bitter orange extract contains p-synephrine, which behaves in a very similar manner as ephedrine.
Synephrine increases energy, heart rate, respiration and metabolism like ephedra, but does not have the same effect on blood pressure. It has been shown to promote weight loss as a thermogenic agent, although it is not as powerful.
Using ephedra extract supplements may give you some of the same benefits as the original Ephedra Sinica fat burners, but it can also cause the same side effects. Combining multiple stimulants together at high doses can be dangerous.
Interactions and Side Effects
When used appropriately by health individuals, side effects from ephedra are generally mild. However, serious adverse reactions are possible when ephedrine is taken for long periods of time or at elevated dosages.
In multiple research studies, ephedra has been well-tolerated at low doses. Some studies have reported “small increases in blood pressure and heart rate.” This is not dangerous for the majority of people but can cause harmful reactions in individuals with cardiovascular conditions or if used for an extended duration.
The risk of side effects is directly proportional to the consumption of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids. In Chinese Medicine, the ephedra herb is report to be safe and not associated with significant health risks.
However, there is a difference in the effects when using the whole plant compared to the concentrated extracts that were used in dietary supplements. Risk of side effects is also greater with the Chinese Ma Huang ephedra sinica species compared to the Mormon Tea or ephedra nevadensis, which contains less active alkaloids.
Side effects will depend on a person’s tolerance of stimulants, dosages, frequency of use, whether the user is healthy and whether other stimulants, supplements or drugs are being used. Some of the adverse effects can include:
The half-life of ephedrine is between three to six hours. Avoid taking dosages more frequently than this and do not use it within six hours of your intended bedtime.
Severe symptoms associated with overuse, misuse, or abuse can include:
In extreme cases, this supplement has been linked to heart attacks, stroke, potential seizures and a small number of fatalities. Most of these cases involved elevated dosages, concurrent use of other substances and other intervening factors.
Side effects that persist after discontinuation of use should be assessed by a medical professional. Any severe or worrisome side effects should be discussed with a doctor.
A number of drug interactions may occur with use of ephedra. Consult with a doctor if you take medications to treat cardiovascular or metabolic issues such as diabetes. Using this product with anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs can also cause unwanted reactions.
Before taking ephedra for weight loss, consult with a doctor to learn about potential side effects as well as the risk for negative reactions. Use of this supplement is contraindicated for certain groups of individuals.
Ephedra can accelerate metabolism, increase energy levels and block hunger cravings. It has been shown to promote fat loss and can provide short-term benefits in a diet regimen.
However, there is a risk of side effects that must be understood and weighed against potential benefits. Use of this supplement for short periods of time at responsible dosages is necessary to avoid adverse reactions.
If you do decide to take Ephedra Sinica pills for weight loss, it is important to do so under guidance of your physician. Be aware of all of the potential negative effects and how to use this product safely to burn fat.