PDR Health


What is ephedra?

Ephedra, also known as ma huang, is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is typically used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Ephedra contains the active ingredient ephedrine, which is a stimulant.


Health Benefits

There is some scientific evidence to support the use of ephedra for certain health conditions. For example, ephedra has been shown to be effective in treating bronchitis and asthma. Ephedra can also help to boost energy levels and suppress appetite.

Side Effects

While ephedra is generally safe when used as directed, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. These include anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations. Ephedra can also interact with other medications, so it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking this supplement.

Dosage and Preparation

Ephedra is available in capsules or tablets. It can also be brewed into a tea. The recommended dosage depends on the condition being treated. For bronchitis, the usual dose is 30-60 mg three times daily. For asthma, the usual dose is 25-50 mg three times daily. And for weight loss, the typical dose is 10-20 mg three times daily.

Ephedra should not be taken for more than two weeks at a time. If you have any questions about taking this supplement, talk to your healthcare provider.


Ephedra can interact with a variety of medications. For example, it can increase the effects of stimulants and blood pressure medications. It can also interact with certain herbs and supplements, such as caffeine and guarana. So, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking ephedra if you are taking any other medications or supplements.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of action for ephedra is not fully understood. However, it is thought to work by stimulating the central nervous system. This can help to increase energy levels and suppress appetite. Ephedra also has bronchodilator effects, which can help to improve breathing in people with asthma or bronchitis.


After oral administration, ephedrine is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The bioavailability of ephedrine ranges from 30-50%. Peak plasma concentrations are reached within 1-2 hours. Ephedrine is metabolized in the liver and excreted in the urine. The half-life of ephedrine is 3-6 hours.

Alternatives to Ephedra

If you are looking for an alternative to ephedra, there are a few options available. For example, bronchodilators such as albuterol and ipratropium can be used to treat asthma and bronchitis. Stimulants such as caffeine can also help to increase energy levels and suppress appetite. And weight loss supplements such as green tea extract and garcinia cambogia may also be effective. Talk to your healthcare provider about which option is best for you.

Is caffeine more effective than ephedrine?

Caffeine is a stimulant that can help to increase energy levels and suppress appetite. It is generally more effective than ephedrine for these purposes. However, caffeine can also cause side effects such as anxiety and insomnia. So, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking caffeine if you are also taking ephedra.