Ephedrine Pills: Top Positive and Negative Effects for Dieters
Ephedrine pills are commonly taken by bodybuilders and people who want to lose weight.
Use of these diet pills has been shown in clinical studies to enhance fat oxidation, resting metabolic rate, energy levels and some facets of athletic performance.
Ingesting ephedrine capsules can support fat loss through several mechanisms of action as well as enhancing motivation, mental performance, stamina and more. However, they can also increase strain on cardiac function and are associated with severe side effects.
While herbal ephedra was previously sold as a dietary supplement, this ingredient is no longer legal to use in supplements under FDA guidelines.
However, ephedrine HCL tablets are still legal for the treatment of medical condition such as asthma symptoms, bronchitis, nasal congestion and allergy relief. Before using this product, it is important to understand how these pills affect the body, whether they are truly effective for weight loss, and the possible health risks linked to taking them. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Ephedrine pills, as over-the-counter dietary supplements, grew increasingly popular from the 1970s through the 1990s for their ability to enhance weight loss results.
Ephedrine, is the primary active alkaloid in the ephedra plant which has long been used for the treatment of breathing and lung conditions. It is a drug that acts as a bronchodilator, decongestant, and vasopressor.
It acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system, causing airways to dilate and bronchial passages to open up. For athletes and dieters, this product was also used to:
- Accelerate weight loss
- Increase fat burn
- Improve metabolism
- Boost stamina and endurance
- Suppress or control the appetite
Ephedrine can increase your energy levels and stimulate your cells to burn more calories for heat production. This supplement has been shown to increase fat breakdown in the body which can support weight loss, given the right diet and exercise regimen.
Benefits and Effects
Ephedrine pills can help to accelerate weight loss due to their effect on the body as a stimulant. This drug both directly and indirectly affects the sympathetic or autonomic nervous system.
This system is responsible for controlling:
- Heart rate
- Respiratory rate
- Hormone functions
- Certain brain functions
Ephedrine has an agonizing effect on certain receptors in the body, primarily alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors. It also causes the release of norepinephrine in the brain, likened to adrenaline. Many of the effects of ephedrine are similar to those of amphetamines.
This compound is referred to as a sympathomimetic amine because it mimics the effects of stimulating the body’s fight or flight response. It does this by activating the same alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors that are activated when adrenaline (epinephrine) circulates through the body.
Adrenaline is released in times of danger, excitement, stress or uncertainty to give the body a surge of energy. In emergency medical treatment situations, epinephrine is likely most known today for its immediate use in the treatment of anaphylactic shock caused by severe allergic reactions.
Adrenergic receptors are found throughout the body’s arteries, blood vessels, muscles and organs. Alpha receptors influenced by norepinephrine are responsible for the constriction of arteries.
When alpha receptor are triggered, arteries constrict, increasing blood pressure and improving blood flow back to the heart for oxygenation. This stimulation increases heart rate and brain activities that prepare a person for dealing with stressful scenarios or immediate danger.
The beta-one receptors are located in the heart muscle itself. When these receptors are stimulated, the heart rate speeds up, increasing the flow of blood through the body, feeding muscles with oxygen and nutrients.
Beta-1 receptors also have an influence on the force of heart contractions. The harder the heart beats, the greater circulation throughout the body.
Beta-2 receptors are located inside the lung airways and in a number of arteries serving skeletal muscle. When these receptors are activated, the blood vessels and bronchioles inside the lungs dilate. This widening of the air passages improves airflow to the lungs as well as oxygen delivery in the blood to skeletal muscles.
Experiences with Taking Ephedrine
Each of these mechanisms of action mentioned above can increase energy availability, alertness, physical stamina and preparedness for dealing with stressful stimuli. Like adrenaline, ephedrine puts your body into a higher-energy state where more calories and fat are mobilized as fuel sources.
Much of this excess energy gets burned off as heat, causing your core body temperature to slightly increase. Heat production in the body is known as thermogenesis. It contributes to the basal metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn while at rest.
For anyone who wants to lose weight, these stimulant effects can cause you to burn more calories passively and make it easier to achieve a calorie deficit. The increased energy, stamina, and endurance can also make it easier to work out at high intensity for longer periods of time.
However, forcing the body into this higher state of activity or stimulation for long periods of time can place a strain on the cardiac muscle.
2004 US Ban on Ephedrine
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, use of ephedrine as a dietary supplement for weight loss was prevalent in the United States. However, this product was often abused, taken at high doses or used for very long periods of time
Because of the way ephedrine behaves in the human body, medical professionals and health organizations began to receive increasing numbers of complaints of side effects.
These reports about the adverse effects of the misuse and overuse of ephedrine pills by consumers caused alarm. In 2004, the decision was made to ban the presence of ephedrine from dietary supplements.
This ban did not happen overnight. For years, government agencies had been receiving reports of serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects caused by misuse of ephedrine by dieters seeking weight loss.
At first, the US Congress blocked efforts to enact the ban claiming that the FDA did not have enough evidence to support their ruling.
Initially, the US FDA tried to advise on recommendations for use, limiting daily amounts of ephedrine alkaloid to 24 mg per day for no more than seven days. They later rescinded this advice due to insufficient safety information.
Then, in a two-year period between 2000 and 2002, an FDA report stated that manufacturers of ephedra/ephedrine products had been sued by more than 100 people. From the decade between 1992 to 2002, over one thousand health problems had been reported to the FDA. 
At the conclusion of 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration reported over 16,000 complaints of “adverse health effects”, claiming that approximately 155 deaths had been blamed on the stimulant.
The event that brought the controversy to national attention was the death of baseball pitcher Steve Bechler in 2003. Bechler was a 23-year-old who had taken a number of products, including Xenadrine RFA-1 with ephedra, to lose weight. 
While there is controversy over whether his death was actually caused by the use of ephedra, this was the catalyst that lead to the banning of this ingredient in weight loss products in the USA. Many countries around the world including the UK, Canada, and Australia also banned the ingredient at the same time.
However, the sale of ephedrine HCL tablets for the treatment of asthma, breathing disorders and sinus congestion was allowed to continue. In the USA and Canada, these products are still legal to buy without requiring a prescription.
Brands of Ephedrine Pills Available
Individuals who want to purchase ephedrine pills today will have to look for this drug in the form of asthma and allergy medications. One of the most common brands still available is Primatene tablets, manufactured by Pfizer.
The primary ingredients in Primatene includes ephedrine hydrochloride at a 12.5 mg strength per tablet along with 200 mg guaifenesin. In this formulation, ephedrine acts as a bronchodilator while guaifenesin acts as an expectorant.
According to Primatene product information, this drug is intended to “Alleviate mild symptoms of intermittent asthma including: wheezing, tightness of chest, shortness of breath and excess of mucus.”
The dosage recommendation for adults is one to two tablets every four hours as needed for the relief of asthma symptoms. Users are cautioned against taking more than a total of 12 tablets equating to 150 mg in a 24-hour period.
Another popular brand is Bronkaid, which provides 25mg of ephedrine sulfate per pill with 400 mg of guaifenesin per caplet.
In the UK, ephedrine hydrochloride 30 mg tablets are sold as a prescription-only product. UK government regulations prohibit sales of various forms of ephedra herb products, which are only allowed to be sold at registered pharmacies. 
In Canada, the sale of ephedrine pills is also restricted. It can only be sold as a nasal decongestant in pill form. Maximum dosages are 8 mg a day, with no more than 32 mg taken within a 24-hour period. 
Some of the brands of pure ephedrine HCL sold in Canada include Kaizen, 4EverFit and Synergenex.
Can You Buy Ephedrine Pills Online?
If you live in the United States, it is not legal to buy ephedrine over the internet. Sales of this product are restricted to pharmacies like Walmart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Target or CVS.
Individuals who want to buy this drug do not require a prescription, but users will have to provide their government-issued photo ID and have their sale tracked in a central logbook. There are also restrictions on the amount of this product that you can buy at any given time.
Despite the bans and restrictions, you may find listings for ephedrine pills for sale online, but primarily from countries like China and India. However, these products are often confiscated by border agents upon shipping them back to the United States. You run the risk of having your purchase seized and being fined or criminally investiaged.
Regulation regarding mail-order shipment of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products has intensified in recent years. These two primary alkaloids from the ephedra plant are also used as precursors in the manufacturing of illicit street drugs like methamphetamine.
Border control agents, shipping companies, and local mail carriers are all tasked with preventing the distribution of this drug through illegal channels. In most cases, vendors state that any packages confiscated at borders are not their responsibility, and no refunds for such shipments will be granted.
Ephedrine is typically sold in dosages of 12.5 mg to 25 mg per pill. When used as a weight loss aid, this product is typically consumed in dosages of between 8 – 24 mg, two to three times per day.
Users generally start at a low dose and gradually increase to a full dosage of 50 mg per day. Taking more than this amount increases the risk of adverse reactions. While some sources describe cutting cycles of up to 150 mg per day, using this much increases exposure to potentially hazardous side effects.
Bodybuilders often combine the ephedrine component with other stimulants including but not limited to:
- Caffeine anhydrous
- Bitter Orange
- Green tea extract black
- Green coffee extract
Ephedrine and ephedra may also be used in an ECA stack, which is a combination with caffeine and aspirin. This stack is purported to have synergistic benefits, resulting in greater weight loss than what individuals can achieve by taking ephedrine pills on their own.
At a low dose, ephedrine tablets are generally well tolerated and do not pose a significant risk of harmful side effects. Some users may experience mild adverse reactions even when taking this product as directed.
Ephedrine pills are not recommended for everyone. They can cause serious side effects in people with hypertension, a history of cardiovascular problems and individuals diagnosed with a number of other health conditions.
The risk of side effects will be affected by body composition, height, weight, health status, use of other stimulants, activity levels and more. Ephedrine can also negatively interact with a number of prescription medicines and dietary supplements.
Caution is advised for anyone who is currently on medication for the treatment of any health conditions. Consult with your doctor to determine whether this supplement is appropriate for you.
Some of the minor and often temporary side effects associated with ephedrine pills include but are not limited to:
- Headaches – sometimes severe, with some complaining of migraines
- Dizziness – in most cases, this is caused by the constriction of blood vessels in the brain, decreasing oxygen supply
- Blurred vision – caused by constriction of blood vessels
- Upset stomach or nausea – ephedrine can also act as an appetite suppressant and may cause vomiting in rare cases
- Anxiousness or paranoia
- Trembling hands or jitteriness
- Accelerated heart rate
- Heart palpitations
Side effects can become more serious if using high dosages, taking this product more frequently than recommended or when combined with other stimulants.
Medical professionals have conducted a number of clinical trials and received reports of negative effects of ephedrine on the body. When used by itself, this compound may temporarily increase systolic blood pressure.
Many people are able to tolerate a short-term increase in blood pressure without any on-going negative effects. However, for some people this effect could be dangerous.
Studies have also determined that ephedrine can trigger or provoke adverse interactions when combined with other psychoactive or physical stimulants. In one animal (mice) study, high doses of ephedrine, p-synephrine, caffeine, and salicin produced toxicity, associated with a number of side effects including reduced locomotor activity, seizures, agitation and death. 
While many people can use ephedrine pills safely and responsibly to help them lose weight, there is a potential for dangerous reactions in some individuals. Always stick to dosage guidelines and do not combine this product with other stimulatory substances to reduce the likelihood of negative effects.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chapter 1. Introduction.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard medical School. Why the FDA banned ephedra. March 2004.
- Gov.uk. Medicines and Healthcare products. Regulatory Agency. Guidance. Banned and restricted herbal ingredients. 18 Dec. 2014.
- Ishvinder S. Chattha, Medicine 2011. Health Canada Ban on Ephedrine – A Post-ban Assessment of Effectiveness.
- Schmitt GC. Et al. Toxicological effects of a mixture used in weight loss products: p-synephrine associated with ephedrine, salicin, and caffeine. Int J Toxicol. 2012 Mar;31(2):184-91. doi: 10.1177/1091581811435708. Epub 2012 Mar 9.