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Ephedra

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 5, 2022.

What are other common names?

  • Ephedra distachya
  • Ephedra equisetina
  • Ephedra gerardiana
  • Ephedra intermedia
  • Ephedra shennungiana
  • Ephedra sinensis
  • Ephedra sinica
  • Ephedra vulgaris
  • Belcho
  • Cao Ma-Huang
  • Cao Mahuang
  • Chinese Ephedra
  • Chinese Joint Fir
  • Desert Herb
  • Efedra
  • Ephedra Sinisa
  • Ephedrine
  • Ephedrine Alkaloid
  • Herbal Ecstasy
  • Indian Joint Fir
  • Joint Fir
  • Ma Huang
  • Ma Huang Root
  • Mongolian Ephedra
  • Muzei Ma Huang
  • Pakistani Ephedra
  • Pinellia
  • Popotillo
  • Sea Grape
  • Shuang Sui Ma Huang
  • Teamster's Tea
  • Yellow Astringent
  • Yellow Horse
  • Zhong Mahuang

What is this product used for?

This product can cause serious side effects. Products that have ephedra in them are banned for sale in the US.

What are the precautions when taking this product?

  • Always check with your doctor before you use a natural product. Some products may not mix well with drugs or other natural products.

  • Be sure to tell your doctor that you take this product if you are scheduled for surgery or tests.

  • This product may be habit-forming with long-term use.

  • Do not use this product if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon. Use birth control you can trust while taking this product.

  • Do not use this product if you are breastfeeding.

  • Do not use this product if you are taking drugs called MAO inhibitors. These are drugs like isocarboxazid, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine.

  • Do not drink liquids with caffeine in them while taking this product.

  • Do not take this product if you are taking drugs commonly used for headaches called ergotamines. These are drugs like dihydroergotamine.

  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs that are stimulants. This product may increase dangerous side effects of these drugs. These are drugs used for breathing problems, nasal congestion, low blood pressure, weight loss, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

  • If you have blood sugar problems, keep hard candies, glucose tablets, liquid glucose, or juice on hand for low blood sugar.

  • Take extra care and check with your doctor if you have:

    • Heart problems, such as a fast beat

    • High blood pressure

    • Kidney problems

    • Diabetes

    • Breathing problems, like asthma

    • Mental disorders, like low mood

    • Seizures

What should I watch for?

  • Upset stomach

  • Dry mouth

  • Feeling restless

  • Not able to sleep

When do I need to call the doctor?

  • Signs of a very bad reaction. These include wheezing; tightness in the chest; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat. Go to the ER right away or call for emergency help.

  • Signs of heart attack. These include chest pain or pressure, a feeling of something sitting on your chest, trouble breathing, sweating, fast heartbeat, and dizziness.

  • Signs of stroke. These include numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg; blurred eyesight; not able to speak or know what some other person is saying to you; dizziness, loss of balance, or falling; very bad headache; change in behavior that is not normal.

  • Signs of high blood sugar. These include sleepiness, blurred vision, passing urine more often, increased thirst, breath has a fruity sweet smell, upset stomach and throwing up, dizziness, or passing out.

  • Signs of mental health problems. These include very low mood, feeling restless, sleep problems, loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating, not wanting to be around people, hearing voices, seeing things that are not really there, or having thoughts about hurting yourself or others.

  • Very bad dizziness or passing out

  • Very bad throwing up

  • Very bad loose stools

  • Very bad headache

  • Very bad stomach cramps

  • Bright red blood in your stools

  • Seizures

  • Heart beat is not normal

Where can I learn more?

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ephedra

Department of Defense Dietary Supplement Resource

https://www.opss.org/article/ephedra-unsafe-and-illegal-dietary-supplements

Last Reviewed Date

2021-05-14

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