Abuse of Ephedrine: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Man using ephedrine to lift heavier weights.

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Ephedrine, also known as ephedra or Ma Huang, is a alkaloid-based stimulant that was most commonly used for the treatment of asthma, urine-control issues, menstrual irregularities, low blood pressure, other breathing problems, nasal congestion, and some sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. However, in most recent years, ephedrine has commonly been included in many body building and weight loss supplements, promoted and marketed as an energy producing substance.

Understanding the Effect of Ephedrine on the Human Body

Woman lifting weights with help from ephedra.On the surface level, this substance may seem harmless, and even beneficial, particularly for individuals who are seeking weight loss or increased energy. This substance appeared in many common products that could be purchased over the counter at one point, including popular products such as Hydroxycut, Xenadrine, and Ripped Fuel.

However, because this substance functions as s central nervous system stimulant, many adverse side effects can result from use of this substance, and because of the potentially dangerous physical consequences of taking ephedrine, the substance has since been banned from sales in over the counter products.

Because ephedrine functions as a stimulant, it can increase heart rate, body temperature and overall blood pressure. This can lead to cardiovascular complications, stroke, seizures, and other types of side effects that can be potentially deadly.

Abuse of Ephedrine and Ways to Seek Help

Ephedrine in pill formWhether obtained via the black market or from a prescription, abuse of ephedrine can be fatal, especially is accidentally combined with other drugs or stimulants that exacerbate the effects of this substance. If you have been taking this substance as a means of increasing energy, it is important to seek out professional help for safely weaning off this substance and preventing adverse side effects from resulting.

Be sure to understand the risks that are involved with taking this substance, particularly without the supervision or guidance of a qualified health professional. Safely weaning off this substance can help prevent more serious complications from resulting.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are some of the appeals of taking a supplement such as ephedrine, and how can this pose a danger for the general public?

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 21, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com

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