Ephedra

Ephedra is used for weight loss. In 2004, the FDA banned the U.S. sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra.

Ephedra Overview

Reviewed: June 19, 2014
Updated: 

Ephedra is an evergreen shrub-like plant.

Ephedra is used most often for weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced athletic performance.

Common side effects of ephedra include anxiety, difficulty urinating, dry mouth, headache, heart damage, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, irritation of the stomach, kidney stones, nausea, psychosis, restlessness, sleep problems, and tremors.

Ephedra Cautionary Labels

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Ephedra is used most often for weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced athletic performance.

Ephedra may be used for other conditions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Side Effects of Ephedra

Studies have found an increased risk of heart, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal problems, as well as high blood pressure and stroke, with ephedra use.

Using ephedra may worsen many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

Ephedra may cause seizures in otherwise healthy people as well as in people with seizure disorders.

Taking ephedra can also result in anxiety, difficulty urinating, dry mouth, headache, heart damage, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, irritation of the stomach, kidney stones, nausea, psychosis, restlessness, sleep problems, and tremors.

This is not a complete list of ephedra side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Ephedra Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

  • Ephedra use may lead to serious health problems when used with other dietary supplements or medicines.
  • Combining ephedra with caffeine increases the risk of potentially serious side effects.

Ephedra Precautions

Special precautions & warnings:

In 2004, the FDA banned the U.S. sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra. The FDA found that these supplements had an unreasonable risk of injury or illness—particularly cardiovascular complications—and a risk of death.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children should avoid taking ephedra.