Treatment Options

Ephedra

Possible Harm/No Value

Ephedra is an evergreen-like plant that is native to Central Asia and Mongolia. It is also known as Chinese ephedra, ma huang and ephedra sinica.   Ephedrine is the principal active ingredient in ephedra.  Ephedrine is a compound that can powerfully stimulate the nervous system and heart. Ephedra is an herbal product that has been sold as a dietary supplement. It is referred to as a complementary and alternative treatment. 

Ephedra has been used for asthma, colds, fever, flu, headaches, nasal congestion and wheezing. It is best known as being an ingredient in dietary supplements used for weight loss, increased energy and enhanced athletic performance. The use of ephedra as a dietary supplement has been banned in the United States due to reports of cardiovascular complications and even death.

Things to Consider

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 12, 2004 banned the U.S. sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra. The FDA found that these supplements have an unreasonable risk of injury or illness, particularly cardiovascular complications, and a risk of death.
  • Scientific studies that show the use of ephedra maintains long-term weight loss are not available.
  • Seek the advice of your physician when considering any kind of complementary and alternative treatment choice.

Results

Possible Harm/No Value

Will I live longer if I take ephedra?

The FDA has stated the use of dietary supplements containing ephedra have an unreasonable risk of injury or illness, particularly cardiovascular complications, and a risk of death.

Will taking ephedra improve my quality of life?

Scientific evidence is not available to show whether or not taking ephedra will improve your quality of life.

Safety

Possible Harm/No Value

How safe is taking ephedra for me?

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 12, 2004 banned the U.S. sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra. The FDA found that these supplements have an unreasonable risk of injury or illness, particularly cardiovascular complications, and a risk of death.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children should not take ephedra.

Reported complications:

  • Death
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Heart attack
  • Heart damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Irritation of the stomach
  • Increased urination
  • Kidney stones
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis
  • Restlessness
  • Stroke
  • Sleep problems
  • Tremors

Comparison

Possible Harm/No Value

Comparisons of the use of ephedra to other treatments are not available.

Cost

Possible Harm/No Value

The sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra is prohibited by the FDA in the U. S.

Seek the advice of your physician when considering any kind of complementary and alternative treatment choice.

The cost may or may not be covered by your health benefits plan.

The cost may or may not be covered by your health benefits plan.

Sources

The following are off-site links off-site link :

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. (2013, June). Herbs at a glance. Ephedra. Retrieved August 12, 2013 from

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/ephedra.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources. (2006, August). FDA statement. FDA statement on tenth circuit's ruling to uphold FDA decision banning dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids. Retrieved August 12, 2013 from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108715.htm.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources. (2004, April). FDA statement. FDA announces rule prohibiting sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids effective April 12. Retrieved August 12, 2013 from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108281.htm.

Next Review Date

8/22/2014

This document has been classified as public information.

Table of Findings

results:  possible harm / no value

safety:  possible harm / no value

comparison:  possible harm / no value

cost: possible harm / no value


total: possible harm / no value

legend

scale

Page modified:November 8, 2012