Alcohol and Drug Information

Ephedrine Warning

Ephedrine, a popular herbal stimulant, is used to promote weight loss, boost energy and help treat asthma. It is sold under such trade names as Ma huang, Chinese ephedra, square tea and Mormon tea. Many believe that because herbs are natural products, they are safe and harmless. In this case, it's definitely not true.

Ephedrine raises blood pressure and heart rate, can damage nerves and muscles and cause memory loss, strokes, psychosis and even death. There have been 17 reported deaths attributed to this herb, as well as 800 ephedrine-related injuries, as reported to the FDA. A 23-year-old Boston College student died after regularly drinking a protein supplement containing ephedrine for over two years, damaging his heart. A 35-year-old man had a heart attack after taking just five capsules before a workout.

The FDA banned the sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedra in 2003 and the agency advised consumers to immediately stop buying and using ephedra products. This marks the first time the FDA has used a provision of a 1994 law that allows it to ban dietary substances when they are proven to be dangerous.

Read labels! If a product contains ephedrine, do not consume it with caffeine products (i.e. coffee, tea, cola, certain over-the-counter medications) or other stimulants. Also, do not exercise after ingesting ephedrine and limit the amount taken. The combination of exercise and ephedrine can raise the heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously high levels.