What ephedrine products can you still buy over-the-counter in the United States and other parts of the world?
Certain forms of ephedrine have been banned from the marketplace, but there are still versions of this drug that can be purchased without a prescription.
While prohibited by the FDA as an ingredient in weight loss supplements, ephedrine HCL and ephedrine sulfate are legal as OTC nasal decongestants and asthma drugs.
Bodybuilders and athletes often turn to these forms of products to make pre-workout ECA stacks that replicate the effects of the now-banned ephedra fat burners that became popular in the 1990’s.
However, many of the forms of oral pills that are legal to sell today contain additives and medicinal ingredients that interfere with the thermogenic effects of this stimulant. Pure ephedrine HCL pills are not legal in the USA.
Here’s everything you need to know about buying OTC ephedrine products, how it works for weight loss, precautions for use as well as side effects. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Best Ephedrine Products for Sale
Bodybuilders, weight lifters and dieters will tell you that ephedrine is still widely used for fat loss, even though it has been banned for this use.
In 2004, the FDA passed a ruling that made ephedrine alkaloids illegal to use in any products intended for weight reduction, appetite control or energy. They banned the inclusion of several alkaloids from the ephedra plant from dietary supplements.
However, the ruling did not affect the use of this compound as an ingredient in hay fever drugs, bronchodilators, asthma treatments or allergy pills. The sale of over-the-counter medications with ephedrine HCL or sulfate was allowed to continue.
Even though you don’t need a prescription to buy these pills, sprays or nasal drops, there are a number of restrictions on how it can be sold. In some states, it can only be sold in a maximum dose per tablet of 12.5 mg tablets and it must be combined with a minimum of 200 mg guaifenesin.
These restrictions were not put in place due to the risk of side effects. Instead, the requirements are intended to prevent the diversion of this compound for the manufacturing of illegal drugs. There are other limitations on the sale of ephedrine under the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA) of 2005.
Bodybuilders are often unaware of this fact: Even though ephedrine is legal to buy over-the-counter, it cannot be sold in its pure form. It has to be combined with other ingredients that often negate the potential stimulant effects.
What drugs contain ephedrine? Several over-the-counter medications sold in the United States contain this ingredient. Some of the most common brand names include:
- Bronkaid (Ephedrine Sulfate and Gauifenesin)
- Primatene tablets (Ephedrine HCL and Gauifenesin)
- Pretz-D (Nasal Antihistamine and Decongestant)
- EPHED Plus Tablets (Ephedrine and Gauifenesin; Contains Pseudoephedrine in some locations)
- Vasopro Ephedrine HCL 25mg and Gauifenesin (Discontinued)
- Akovaz (Ephedrine Sulfate Injection)
- Asthmacon (Aminophylline, Amobarbital, Ephedrine)
- Mudrane (Aminophylline, Ephedrine, Phenobarbital, Potassium Iodide)
- Mudrane GG (Aminophylline, Ephedrine, Guaifenesin, Phenobarbital)
- Quelidrine (Ammonium chloride, Chlorpheniramine, Dextromethorphan, Ephedrine, Ipecac, Phenylephrine)
- Corphedra (Intravenous)
- Quad-Tuss, Rynatuss Pediatric, Quadratuss, Rynatuss (Carbetapentane, Chlorpheniramine, Ephedrine, Phenylephrine)
- Broncho-Dilate, Broncholate (Ephedrine, Guaifenesin)
- Primatene Dual Action (Ephedrine, Guaifenesin, Theophylline)
- Marax, Hydrophed, Ami-rax, Hydroxy Compound (Ephedrine, Hydroxyzine, Theophylline)
- Quadrinal (Ephedrine, Phenobarbital, Potassium Iodide, Theophylline)
- Theodrine, Tedrigen (Ephedrine, Phenobarbital, Theophylline)
- KIE (Ephedrine, Potassium Iodide)
- Rentamine (Carbetapentane, Chlorpheniramine, Ephedrine, Phenylephrine)
- Bronko Tuss Elixir
A number of these multi-ingredient products are anti-asthmatic or upper respiratory drugs that also contain guaifenesin (glyceryl guaiacolate). Guaifenesin is an expectorant that thins out mucus and relaxes smooth muscles that line the airways, facilitating easier breathing.
The milligram strength of ephedrine found in such products is typically limited. For example, the common milligram strength in bronchodilator or anti-asthma products averages 12.5 to 25 mg per dose.
In Canada, pure ephedrine HCL pills are legal and can be purchased without a prescription from supplement retailers like GNC. However, products can contain a maximum of 8mg per tablet and the maximum recommended dosage per day is 32mg.
In the UK, high-dose products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are legally sold with a prescription only. It is considered illegal to sell any product that contains more than 180 mg ephedrine content or 720 mg pseudoephedrine content without a prescription.
Online pharmacies and suppliers continue to sell products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine from other countries. However, importing these products to your country of residence may be illegal and may result in seizure of the products by border agents.
Buying Ephedrine in Stores
In the United States, ephedrine products can be sold over the counter or with a prescription. If buying this product without a prescription, there are a number of regulations that have to be complied with.
The sale of this product is carefully monitored and there are limitations to how much a person can buy in a single transaction or in any given 30-day period. The maximum is 3.6 grams per day of ephedrine base or 9.6 grams per 30 days.
Purchasers are required to show identification, provide contact information, and sign for the product at the pharmacy counter. Products are typically stored in locked cases and have to be dispensed by trained employees or pharmacists.
All customers are also tracked in a central database with information accessible by authorities. Both this compound and the related pseudoephedrine are chemical precursors used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. These restrictions are designed to prevent people from buying in large to use for illicit activities.
Some states in the USA have stronger restrictions than those put in place by the federal government. This drug is an illegal controlled substance in certain states and cannot be sold without a prescription.
This compound cannot be sold in bulk powder form and it cannot be promoted for weight loss. Non-liquid dose forms of the drug have to be sold in unit dose blister packs.
The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, India and Western European countries also have their own strict guidelines. International exports and imports are also highly regulated with tightened border control checks and localized postal services monitoring packages.
Guide to Oral Ephedrine Tablets
Ephedrine is classified as a sympathomimetic amine. An amine is any derivative of ammonia that contain a nitrogen atom with a non-binding pair.
A sympathomimetic drug is one that imitates or mimics a sympathetic nervous system response. Ephedrine is a synthetic stimulant that mimics the effects of endogenous SNS agonists from the catecholamine class.
Ephedrine increases activity at epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine receptors in the body and brain. It has a direct influence on alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors.
The most important takeaway is that ephedrine has a similar mechanism of action to epinephrine or adrenaline. This is also known as the neurohormone mainly responsible for the body’s fight or flight response. It is a stimulant that increases alertness, energy, metabolism and affects other changes in the body.
When adrenergic receptors are activated, it can result in increased blood pressure, anxiousness, a racing heart, greater vigilance and heightened oxygen utilization. The body floods vital organs with blood and oxygen while diverting resources away from other functions to prioritize survival.
Ephedrine stimulates alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors found in the arteries as well as the cardiac muscle. These receptors are also found inside the airways of the lungs.
Arteries respond to the presence of ephedrine by constricting or narrowing. This reaction increases blood pressure. When the receptors in the heart are triggered, the heart pumps harder and faster.
When adrenergic receptors in the airways of the lungs are stimulated, these passages dilate, facilitating easier intake of oxygen. This is why ephedrine is found in bronchodilators and cough and cold remedies. It acts as a decongestant and a vasopressor.
When used for medical purposes, the typical recommended dosage for adults is 12.5 mg to 25 mg every four hours. This equates to one Bronkaid tablets per 4-hour period or 1-2 Primatene asthma tablets.
According to label directions provided by the manufacturer, the oral dose should not exceed 150 mg ephedrine or 2400 mg guaifenesin in any 24-hour period.
Individuals taking ephedrine products for weight loss or athletic performance enhancement will typically use similar dosages. In research studies, it has been used at dosages of 25mg to 150mg per day.
The standard dosage range is 8mg to 30mg, taken one to three times per day. Some users describe taking 50mg three times per day, however this dose may be too stimulating for many users.
Generally, beginners will start at a low dose of 8-12.5 mg for several days to gauge initial tolerance and sensitivity. If this dose is well-tolerated, it may be increased to 20 to 24mg per serving. Dosages should be tapered up and tapered down to minimize adverse effects.
Products are often combined with other stimulants including caffeine, Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) or yohimbine. Combining two or more stimulants together can increase the potential for side effects.
Many athletes make their own ECA stack with ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin. This stack is purported to have a synergistic effect on metabolism through thermogenesis or heat production.
Aspirin acts as a blood-thinner and many minimize some of the side effects of this stack. It also is reported to inhibit the actions of prostaglandins (PG), which may increase some of the intracellular effects of an EC Stack.
Because many people are sensitive to aspirin, an herbal substitute is sometimes used in fat-burning products. White willow bark is a natural source of salicin which has the same effect.
A typical dose used in an ECA stack is below and this dose may be repeated two to three times per day.
- 25 mg ephedrine
- 150 mg to 200 mg caffeine
- 81 mg Aspirin
Some individuals taking an ECA stack may exceed recommendations. However, tolerance and sensitivity to this stimulant can vary widely.
Users have complained that when taken in higher than recommended dosages, the combination produces heart palpitations or a racing heart and make it difficult to complete workouts. Others experience excessive sweating, anxiety, paranoia and other serious side effects.
Taking this product in a stack may increase the potential weight loss results, but it may also lead to increased severity of negative effects.
How to Prevent Side Effects
Misuse or overuse of ephedrine products can cause side effects and may lead to long-term health problems. Adverse effects can occur even when taken under physician supervision for the treatment of lung and breathing conditions.
Side effects can be temporary and relatively minor, while others can be much more serious. Dosage, frequency of use, how the product is taken, individual health factors and other substances being consumed can have an influence on the severity and duration of side effects.
Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are both stimulants that detrimentally impact cardiovascular function if taken for extended periods of time or used at high doses. It is recommended to start at lower dosages to gauge your body’s reaction and to only use thermogenic agents for up to 4 weeks.
Among the most common side effects associated include:
- Headaches or severe migraines
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Increased anxiety and nervousness
- Tremors or jitteriness in the hands
- Nausea, sometimes with vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Increased sleep latency or insomnia
- Excessive sweating
- Changes in body temperature
- Alternations in mood
- Difficulty focusing
Other serious side effects and adverse reactions can also occur, such as allergic reactions, a pounding heart rate, palpitations and tachycardia (racing heartbeat). Other cardiovascular issues are also possible including arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, hypertension or high blood pressure.
Use of this product may increase risk of heart attacks, seizure or stroke. The Mayo Clinic caution individuals not to exceed 32 mg ephedrine daily. Using more than this amount can increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke in the brain.
Cautions with Use
Use this product responsibly to minimize the risk of side effects. Discuss taking this product with your physician before beginning to use it.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome should use with caution as this drug can exacerbate their conditions. Do not take if you have been diagnosed with a heart conditions, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or intending to become pregnant should avoid use. It is unknown how this drug may affect a developing fetus or growing infant when disseminated through breast milk.
Any individual taking medications for the treatment of depression or anxiety should consult with a doctor before using. This drug may interact with MAOIs, other pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter or herbal products.
Ephedrine should not be used by individuals who are under the age of 18, unless directed to do so by a physician. Avoid excess consumption of caffeinated beverages or other stimulatory products when using.
Ephedrine HCL is a restricted drug and its sale is subject to a number of regulations. While ephedrine products have become popular for weight loss and energy enhancement, this drug poses a high risk of negative effects.
Before deciding to use this drug, take the time to fully research the product, dosage recommendations, and potential for side effects. Diet and exercise are necessary to achieve long-term weight reduction results.
When purchasing ephedrine products online especially from overseas vendors, always be aware that you may not receive what you think you are ordering. International shipments are subject to significant regulation and may be stopped, delayed or seized by border agents.