Ephedrine Dosage Guide: How Much To Take for Safe Fat Loss?
What is the best ephedrine dosage to use for fat loss, diet, bodybuilding or energy?
How should you take this product to maximize its efficacy while minimizing side effects?
There is no standard dosage recommendation for ephedrine HCL as weight loss agent. This drug has not been approved by the FDA for use in weight loss supplements due to risk of unsafe reactions.
Currently, it is only permitted in the USA as a bronchodilator for the treatment of intermitted asthma symptoms, coughs and colds, hay fever allergies and nasal congestion.
Despite this, it remains a common practice among bodybuilders and athletes to use the dosage of the drug off-label during their cutting cycle phase.
Ephedrine comes in many different forms and milligram strengths. It can be taken alone, with caffeine and aspirin, yohimbine or other stimulant herbs. In this article, we will discuss the typical dosages used with ephedrine tablets, how to take it and the risks of side effects linked to overdose.
How Much Ephedrine Should I Take?
When it comes to ephedrine dosage recommendations, cycles and usage guidelines, information varies depending on which sources you are reviewing.
According to the Natural Medicines Database, “The typical dose of ephedra is 15-40 mg of the ephedra alkaloids, calculated as ephedrine, taken up to three times daily. In some cases this dose of ephedra is taken with caffeine 100 mg to 210 mg daily in divided doses.”
How much you take will depend on your reason for taking this drug as well as your individual tolerance level. It can also be affected by your personal health status, whether you are stacking it with other substances and which form of the drug you are using.
Ephedrine HCL is not safe for everyone and use is contraindicated for some people. Before taking this drug for weight loss or other reasons, check with a doctor about whether it is safe for you to use.
In the United States, ephedrine is sold over-the-counter as a treatment for lung and breathing conditions, such as in the products Bronkaid and Primatene. It acts as a vasopressor, decongestant and bronchodilator.
It cannot be sold as a diet pill, but bodybuilders will typically buy these legal non-prescription forms to use off-label.
Dosages provided by these products range from 8mg, 12.5mg to 25 mg per tablet. Oral forms for adults average a dosage of 0.5 mg per kilogram, but again may depend on reason for consumption.
Some users may take more or less than this amount. Use of higher dosages can cause potentially life-threatening adverse effects.
In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know about using ephedrine doses for fat loss and how to minimize the risk of side effects.
How to Use Ephedrine Pills Safely
When a consumer asks, “How much ephedrine should I take?” the answer will depend on the scenario and the form as well as milligram strength of the product being used.
It also depends on whether you’re taking it for medical treatment or for non-medical purposes, including weight loss, a boost in energy, or enhanced physical performance.
According to NMD, ephedrine has a high frequency of adverse effects and is “100 times more likely than other herbs to generate an adverse reaction report.”
This means it is important to adhere closely to dosage recommendations and avoid taking more than the suggested amount.
While some studies suggest that it only produces serious negative side effects if used in excessive dosages, there have been harmful side effects reported even among patients using between 20-60 mg of ephedra alkaloids per day.
NMD reports that, “There is some evidence that people who take doses greater than 32 mg per day might have more than triple the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, including subarachnoid hemorrhage and intracerebral hemorrhage.”
Therefore, dosages lower than this amount may be recommended to anyone who wants to reduce their risk of negative effects.
What’s the Best Way to Take Ephedrine?
Based on research studies, the best way to take ephedrine for fat loss is in a stack with caffeine. Clinical trials demonstrate that the potential weight loss results are almost two times greater when using it in combination with caffeine.
According to NMD, 90 mg of ephedra per day has been combined with 192 mg of caffeine from cola nut for 6 months. This resulted in weight reduction of 5.3 kg among people with an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) score.
In addition to using this supplement station, study participants also limited fat intake to 30 percent of calories and engaged in moderate exercise. This promoted a reduction in body fat and improvements in blood lipid levels such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
NMD also report that “a specific combination product containing ephedra (standardized to 72 mg of ephedrine), guarana, and 17 other ingredients (Metabolife 356) might help reduce weight by up to 2.7 kg over 8 weeks in overweight or obese individuals”
If taking ephedrine for nonmedical purposes, follow label instructions on the product or provided to you by a doctor. While ephedrine is banned in dietary supplements in the United States, it is legal as an ingredient in over-the-counter asthma medications.
Recommended dosages for these products average 12.5 mg or up to 25 mg tablets, taken two or up to three times a day. An herbalist or natural medicine practitioner would commonly recommend ephedra at an 8 mg starting point, with 2 to 3 doses per day.
Most of the fat-burning products found on US shelves today and other locations where ephedrine has been banned, market themselves as containing relatively high milligrams strength doses of ephedra extract.
Note that these products are allowed to contain other alkaloids from the ephedra plant, but cannot actually include an active dose of ephedrine. Do not buy ephedra supplements expecting to get ephedrine alkaloids as they have been banned since 2004.
Using an Ephedrine Cycle?
Using this product in a cycle is fairly common among athletes and bodybuilders, mainly for its potential as a fat-burning product. A number of cycle suggestions are also found online, depending on ultimate goals.
Research suggests that it is not necessary to cycle this product in order to experience the benefits. However, cycles are recommended anecdotally by some users because there is a potential to develop a tolerance to the effects of this product.
Some people report that its efficacy can begin to wear off with regular use. Like other fat burners (including Clenbuterol, Caffeine and Synephrine), the body could develop a resistance to its effects such that you are less sensitive to its ability to burn fat.
Those interested in using an ephedrine cutting cycle for fat loss will find a variety of suggestions posted online:
- Using it two to three times weekly just before a workout at a dose of ranging 25 to 50 mg (most sources recommend that this cycle regimen not exceed two to four weeks).
- Others might use with another source of stimulants such as caffeine, taking approximately 12.5 mg of ephedrine two times daily and then increasing up to 25 mg at the midpoint of a cycle (again generally not longer than four weeks).
- Others cycle this thermogenic fat burner on a one-week on, one week off basis.
Before considering use of ephedrine cycle to lose weight, do your homework. Visit forum boards and see how others have used it and pay attention to dosage and safety issues involved.
Note that men and larger individuals will sometimes need higher dosages than female bodybuilders or women who want to lose weight. Some women say that a dose of 4 mg per day can produce more than enough stimulation to promote benefits for weight loss.
Determining dosages for cycling can be tricky, especially when other stimulants are incorporated into the stack or cycle usage. Always consider safety first.
Ephedrine Dosage Limits
In countries like Canada, ephedrine alkaloids are legal in some products, but only to a limit. According to Canadian regulations, ephedrine is only allowable (in decongestant medications) up to an 8 mg dose, not to exceed 32 mg a day.
Consumers will find dosage restrictions on products containing this ingredient in other countries as well.
In the UK, sales are restricted in regards to dosage to those under 180 mg without a prescription. It is illegal to sell ephedrine in an amount over 180 mg without a prescription.
All sales must be made by pharmacists and products with higher dosages require a prescription to be bought legally.
In Australia, ephedrine hydrochloride (HCl) is used in medical scenarios with careful oversight. Primarily, it is used in surgical and hospital environments as a treatment for hypertension, mainly offered in dilution of dosages or strength of 25 mg per milliliter, intended for intravenous route of administration. 
Consult with a doctor before taking this product so you can learn about the possibility of dangerous adverse effects.
Ephedrine HCL vs. Ephedrine Sulfate
Is there a difference between the recommended dosage for ephedrine HCL versus ephedrine Sulfate? Both are synthetic forms of this drug that are used in pharmaceutical medications.
They have similar effects and only differ in their molecular structure. The HCL form contains a salt of hydrochloride acid where as sulfate is a salt of sulfuric acid.
Based on a molecular analysis, ephedrine sulfate contains approximately 77% pure ephedrine base by weight. This means that a 25 mg dose provides 19.25 mg of the active ingredient.
Common brand names with ephedrine sulfate as an ingredient include but not limited to:
The hydrochloride form is 82% ephedrine, which means that a 25 mg dose contains 21 mg of active ingredient. This is 1.75 mg more per 25 mg dose than the sulfate form.
Ephedrine HCL is more common in Canada where it is sold in 8 mg tablets. You can buy this product under brand names like iHealth, Synergenex, 4EverFit and Kaizen.
The drug is also prepared into oral sprays, liquids, mist inhalers as well as for intravenous use. In medical scenarios, it is administered by injection to treat low blood pressure either during or after a surgical procedure.
It is given in an IV administration injection in a 5 mg per milliliter solution, diluted with other components such as dextrose and sodium chloride. Consumers should note that even when administered under careful medical supervision, a number of warnings and cautions are applicable.
Ephedra Supplement Dosages
What are the recommended dosages for using ephedra supplements? Ephedra is the plant from which the ephedrine alkaloid is derived.
In dietary supplements, ephedrine has been banned as an ingredient in the USA. However, ephedra extract can still be sold so long as the prohibited alkaloids are removed.
This herb can also be sold in other forms such as liquid tinctures, bulk powders and in prepared tea bags. Some species of ephedra are not as potent as others, and some species contain little to no ephedrine alkaloid component.
One of the most potent species is Chinese Ephedra Sinica, otherwise known as Ma Huang. This plant contains high amounts of the ephedrine alkaloid and pseudoephedrine.
Typically, the recommended dosage for ephedra is standardized to the alkaloid content. However, since ephedra supplements are not allowed to contain ephedrine, it is difficult to know what the best dosage to take is.
Ephedra extract pills are similar to drinking decaffeinated coffee. With the primary active ingredient removed, most of the physiological effects will be nullified. These supplements will typically add in other ingredients to replicate the effects of ephedrine and it is these dosages that should be used to determine how much to take.
Over-the-counter dietary supplements containing ephedra extract are sold in 12.5 mg, 25 mg, 27 mg, and 50 mg dosages. Some products advertise doses of up to 150 mg per capsule.
It is recommended to follow manufacturer directions on the label of these products and to check with a doctor before taking to make sure these supplements are safe for you.
What Does it Do in the Body?
How does ephedrine work in the body when consumed orally? This drug has a mechanism of action similar to adrenaline. It acts as a sympathomimetic amine and can precipitate direct as well as indirect adrenergic responses in the body.
Ephedrine acts on alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors that are involved in the fight-or-flight response. It increases stimulation of the nervous system, triggering a cascade of physiological reactions.
By increasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, this drug can affect a number of functions including:
- Cardiovascular function
- Respiratory rate
- Digestive processes
- Mental wakefulness and alertness
Adrenaline, a natural hormone that’s produced in the body, is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the body’s “fight or flight response” – providing an individual with a sudden burst of energy, increased blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, and respiratory rate in preparation for some type of intense physical activity.
Adrenaline also serves to shut down nonessential activities that are not vital to survival so that the body has the greatest amount of energy that it needs to survive. For this reason, ephedrine should never be underestimated in regard to its own mechanism of action.
Naturally, an individual today interested in ephedrine for weight loss, energy enhancement, or improved athletic performance doesn’t necessarily want all those things going on in their body, but that’s the way it works.
In hospital settings, this drug is given as a treatment for hypotension or low blood pressure.
Can Ephedrine Sharpen My Mental Focus?
Because it behaves as a stimulant much like caffeine, it is perceived that ephedrine can temporarily, through its burst of energy, heightened focus, help an individual stay awake, to study late at night, or otherwise stimulate those of us working the graveyard shift.
An early study determined that ephedrine also stimulates dopamine-type properties (in rats) and actually increases localized motor activity, although the rate of that activity is mediated through other neurotransmitters in the brain.
In the above-mentioned study, ephedrine effectively stimulated release of dopamine.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter mainly responsible for triggering a sense of reward or pleasure in the brain. It’s also important in expressing appropriate emotional responses as well as movement.
In medical scenarios, dopamine may be used in the treatment of some cardiovascular issues such as heart failure or hypotension. Like with most forms of ephedrine today, dopamine is a prescription-only drug.
Just because the body manufactures dopamine (a type of catecholamine), doesn’t mean that an excess amount – such as provided with prescription or over-the-counter drugs or compounds – is okay. Some of the side effects of higher than normal levels of dopamine can include but are not limited to many of the same side effects of ephedrine, such as:
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Increased sense of anxiety or nervousness
- Goosebumps on the flesh
In most cases, based on user reviews (for non-medical purposes), ephedrine users experience, for the most part, more of an energy boost from the product due to its stimulative effect than overall weight loss.
This may be due to the increase in oxygenation because ephedrine has the ability, as a sympathomimetic amine, to dilate the bronchial airways, increasing oxygen intake, which was how the drug was used medicinally in the past.
Traditional usage of ephedra extract was ongoing for thousands of years in Chinese and Indian medicine, but it was never used as a weight-loss drug.
When using ephedra and seeking recommended safe dosages to promote fat loss, there have been some studies that result in a reliable weight loss effect with responsible dosages, but the changes in body fat composition are not huge.
Some studies have noted that it may enhance a two-pound loss per month typical for users over those who simply choose diet and exercise.
This may be a positive step in the right direction for some users, but the risks of high dosages might not be worth it for others.
In these studies, doctors evaluated the patients first to make sure they were appropriate for ephedra use. Not everyone will follow this precaution and consult with a doctor before taking this drug, which can be dangerous.
While ephedra and ephedrine might be safe for some people, it could be hazardous to others. Serious negative side effects have occurred including heart attack, stroke, mental issues and even death.
Side Effects and Adverse Reactions Associated with Ephedrine
A high frequency of side effects and adverse reactions has been associated with the use of ephedrine pills. This is the reason that the US FDA decided to ban this alkaloid from being sold as a dietary supplement in 2004.
According to NMD, “Prior to its ban, ephedra accounted for less than 1% of herbal product sales, but caused 64% of herbal adverse reaction reports to poison control centers.”
Among the minor and temporary side effects with short-term use, an individual might experience:
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Increased need to urinate
- Increased sense of anxiousness
- Heart palpitations
Ephedrine has a relatively short half-life and most of these symptoms will abate within a few hours of your last dose. If you experience these adverse effects, it is a sign that your dosage may need to be reduced.
Long-term use of this drug can result in more serious side effects. Taking it in high dosages or using it if you have a pre-existing medial condition can also contribute to more serious reactions such as:
- Pounding heart
- Accelerated heart rate (tachycardia)
- Irregular heart rate (arrhythmia)
- Paranoia, extreme anxiety, changes in mood mental behaviors
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Ephedrine is a potent stimulant. When overused, misused, or abused, it can have a negative influence on the body’s nervous system function.
Risks of Overdose
Taking too much of any drug can increase the risk of adverse effects. If you consume an excessively high dosage of ephedrine, you can expect to experience a range of negative reactions.
Like caffeine and other stimulants, it is possible to overdose on ephedrine hydrochloride. This can cause signs of toxicity as well as acute overdose symptoms.
There have been reports of fatalities linked to excessive use of this drug. Heart attacks, strokes, seizures and psychosis can develop even within normal dosage ranges for some individuals, especially if combining this product with other stimulants.
The risk of dangerous effects is highest among people with cardiovascular disease and pre-existing medical conditions. However, even healthy and young individuals can have severe reactions.
Symptoms of an ephedrine overdose include but are not limited to :
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Heart attack
- Difficulty breathing
- Losing consciousness
- Muscle spasms and/or twitching
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or severe vertigo
- Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations
If any of the above symptoms present, it is strongly urged that the person be taken to an hospital or call for emergency services as soon as possible.
Some users perceive that if ephedrine is of natural origin and comes from the Chinese Ma Huang herb instead of synthetic sources, then it is safer to use. However, even herbs can be toxic and should be used responsibly.
According to toxicological data, this compound has an oral LD50 of 400 mg/kg bodyweight in mice. The LD50 is the amount of a specific agent that is required to cause lethality in 50 percent of an animal population over a given time.
This is many times greater than the standard dosage used in humans. According to one online projection, a 70 kg human would need to consume between 2.1 and 23.3 g to experience signs of toxicity.
While the risk of overdose is small if taken responsibly, using more than 75 mg of ephedrine HCL is associated with a higher risk of negative effects. Most manufacturers recommend that users do not take more than 150 mg per day to avoid serious side effects.
Individual responses can vary widely based on how much has been consumed, duration and frequency of consumption, individual health, body composition, and whether it was taken in conjunction with other supplements or stimulants.
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of stimulants and may experience side effects even at low dosages. While an 8 mg dose may be well tolerated by some, it can cause harmful reactions in others.
One of the most important factors when it comes to taking too much ephedrine is a person’s tolerance to it. Users will gradually build up a tolerance to the effects of this drug, which can be the case when it is used longer than recommended.
To compensate for the increased tolerance, users have described increasing their dosage
or frequency of the dose to achieve the same results. On some bodybuilding forums, dangerously high doses of 300 mg per day have been reported.
Depending on usage, a person can also develop an addiction to this drug. Addiction primarily manifests with psychological dependence, though some physical manifestations may also present.
Before taking this stimulant for weight loss or athletic performance, it is important to consult with a doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to use. Follow ephedrine dosage guidelines closely and use this drug with caution.
- M.R. Zarrindast. Dopamine-like properties of ephedrine in rat brain. Br J Pharmacol. 1981 Sep; 74(1): 119–122.
- Australian Government. Department of Health: Therapeutic Goods Administration. Australian Public Assessment Report for Ephedrine Hydrochloride.
- Harbor Village Drug Addiction Treatment. Can you overdose on Ephedrine?