Report on Ephedra Side Effects and Usage


Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Ephedra (Ephedra sinica). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Misuse of ephedra can lead to hypertension and arrhythmias.

Warning 2 – Antidiabetics: Ephedra may increase blood glucose levels.

Warning 3 – Beta-blockers: Concurrent use with beta-blockers causes increased hypertension.

Warning 4 – Guanethidine: Using ephedra with guanethidine may decrease the effect of guanethidine.

Warning 5 – MAOIs: Ephedra may cause a hypertensive crisis if used concurrently with MAOIs.

Warning 6 – Phenothiazines: Use of Ephedra with phenothiazines may result in tachycardia.

Warning 7 – Tricyclic antidepressants: The use of Ephedra with tricyclic antidepressants may result in hypertensive crisis.

Warning 8 – Oxytocics: Ephedra causes severe hypertension when used with oxytocics.

Warning 9 – Sympathomimetics: Ephedra increases the effect of sympathomimetics and causes hypertension.

Warning 10 – Urinary alkalizers: Ephedra increases the effect of urinary alkalizers.

Warning 11 – Anethetics: Ephedra causes an increase in arrhythmias when used with halothane anesthetice.

Warning 12 – Urine Drug Tests: Ephedra has been reported to cause false positives for amphetamines and ecstasy (References 20 and 22) on urine drug screens.

Used as a natural health remedy: Ephedra is used internally for the following benefits:

  • Appetite suppresant
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Bronchodilator
  • Diet aid(See other herbs for weight loss)

Side Effects of Ephedra

The known side effects of Ephedra include:

  1. Agitation
  2. Nervousness
  3. GI disturbances
  4. Headache
  5. Heart attack
  6. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  7. Insomnia
  8. Irritability
  9. Kidney stones
  10. Palpitations
  11. Seizures
  12. Stroke
  13. Tremors
  14. Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  15. Uneven heartbeat
  16. Urinary retention

Other side effects may also occur when using Ephedra. (See form below) Ephedra supplements are available over-the-counter.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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