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NOTE: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has banned the sale of ephedra because of concerns about its safety. The
product has been linked to
strokes, and some deaths.
Ephedra—also known as ma huang
and by its scientific name, Ephedra sinica—is an herbal
product that comes from an evergreen plant. The Chinese used these plants 5,000
years ago, possibly for the treatment of
asthma and hay fever. But they used plant preparations
unlike the modern ephedra supplements that are now banned.
stimulates the brain, causing nervousness and making the heart beat faster. It
temporarily expands the tubes that carry air to the lungs (bronchial tubes),
which makes breathing easier in people who have asthma and other respiratory
Serious problems are associated with ephedra. There
have been some reports of heart attacks and deaths after its use. Do not take
ephedra or anything that contains ephedra.
Ephedra was used in
traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma.
people used ephedra as an energy booster and to help with weight loss.
No. The FDA has banned the sale
Side effects of ephedra include:
At high doses, ephedra has been reported to cause:
Other Works Consulted
Murray MT, Pizzorno JE (2013). Ephedra species. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 731–734. St. Louis: Mosby.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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