Ephedrine

DIVYA
December 7, 2020

Ephedrine is an alkaloid derived from the Ephedra herb. In ancient times, Ephedra was popular in China and India, where it was used in traditional medicines, especially for the treatment of asthma and other diseases affecting the airways. 

Ephedrine has several important benefits to man, but excessive use and misuse have given it a bad reputation. The pill is used illegally by some people to lose weight and boost performance. Ephedrine, however, is a stimulant and wonderful nootropic.

Nootropics normally boost cognition, memory, and thinking. They increase drive and motivation, while stimulants help to keep your brain active for a prolonged period. Ephedrine is sold as a hydrochloride salt; for this reason, it might be referred to as Ephedrine HCL. 

How does it work?


Stimulating adrenergic response

A majority of the effects ephedrine brings about is produced by its effect on adrenergic receptors. Adrenergic receptors are concerned with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. Both hormones have widespread activity throughout the body, but they increase focus and fight off mental fatigue within the brain.

Ephedrine effects mainly 3 types of adrenergic receptors, namely beta-1, beta-2, and alpha. The ephedrine action causes increased epinephrine levels (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and blocks the action of enzymes that tend to transport the hormones or break them down. 

Partial monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibition

Monoamine oxidase is the main enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of adrenaline in the synaptic junctions. By partially blocking the enzyme, ephedrine helps to increase the duration of the action of adrenaline. This is part of how ephedrine works as a stimulant within the brain.

Increasing dopamine and serotonin levels

Increased dopamine levels give a euphoric high to a person, while increased serotonin levels can help elevate the mood and help with weight loss. This is the primary mode of action for the increased tendency for physical activity and the weight loss experienced with ephedrine medication. 

Activating acetylcholine release

Increasing acetylcholine release and preventing its breakdown helps to promote brain activity and motor performance in an individual. This mechanism is often associated with most nootropics and is believed to significantly affect cognitive behavior and thinking.

Is Ephedrine legal?


Ephedrine is considered illegal in some countries due to the high level of abuse of the supplement. It is difficult to obtain in the United States, where it is banned. In the UK, regulations governing the use of ephedrine preclude dosages above 180 mg of ephedrine. 

Some other reasons for the ban on ephedrine are: 

The fact that it can be used to make methamphetamine also has adverse effects on the heart when taken dietary supplements containing ephedrine. Hence, the FDA placed restrictions on the sale of supplements containing ephedrine.

Uses of Ephedrine


  • Increased focus and concentration:

As a stimulant, ephedrine can imitate the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline or increase their release. Both hormones function in moments of anxiety and fright to improve coordination in several ways. One of them is by increasing blood flow to the brain, which enhances concentration and focus. 

  • Neuroprotection:

Aside from its effect in supporting memory functions in the brain, ephedrine has been shown to protect the brain from injury due to hemorrhage in several animal studies. 

  • Weight loss:

Ephedrine has been used over the years for weight loss. Also, experiments have shown reduced body fat in obese mice after a period of treatment with ephedrine.

  • Asthma:

For many years, ephedrine has been used in treating asthma due to its effect in opening up the airways and relieving symptoms of shortness of breath. This is the most important application of ephedrine.

  • Performance enhancement:

Bodybuilders and athletes have harnessed ephedrine’s effect in shedding off body fat, increasing energy levels, and enhancing the mood to help boost their performance and physical activity. This has led to increased abuse of the drug. 

  • Blood pressure:

Studies have shown that ephedrine is more active in treating low blood pressure in pregnant women than phenylephrine. Also, ephedrine supplements in activating the adrenergic hormones cause a significant increase in blood pressure.

Dosage


There is no recommended daily dosage of ephedrine since it is considered unsafe and illegal in most countries. However, there are doses used in experimental works under a doctor’s supervision. However, we don’t encourage the use of ephedrine as a supplement.

For research purposes, 20-55 mg of ephedrine are commonly administered. It is usually taken by either mouth, nose, or intravenous injections. Ephedrine stays active in the bloodstream for up to 6 hours. 

Side effects


Taking ephedrine tablets recommended by the physician or in low doses doesn’t cause any serious adverse effects. High doses of the supplements can cause several side effects, as outlined below:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Palpitations and rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety 
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Painful urination
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability

At increasingly higher doses, ephedrine can cause severe life-threatening side effects such as heart attack, stroke, seizures, coma, or even death.

Conclusion


Though ephedrine is effective as a stimulant, there isn’t much evidence to pass it for a nootropic. Its positive effects are undermined by some serious adverse effects for which it is banned in several countries, including the United States. It is used for many purposes and can be easily abused. You may like to get your doctor’s advice before you consider taking the supplements. 

References:

  • https://nootriment.com/ephedrine-nootropic/
  • https://selfhacked.com/blog/ephedrine/
  • https://reviews.trackmystack.com/supplements-Ephedrine
  • https://www.rxlist.com/ephedrine-side-effects-drug-center.htm
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/ephedrine-oral/article.htm

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