Ephedrine, Ephedra, Pseudoephedrine & Other Similar Compounds
What is Ephedrine?
Ephedrine is a chemical compound belonging to the group of drugs known as beta-antagonists. It can be used to treat a number of symptoms, including but not limited to nasal congestion, low blood pressure, fatigue, weight gain and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Ephedrine was first discovered by the Japanese chemist Nagayoshi Nagai in 1885. It is similar in structure to its derivative drugs, amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Ephedrine is derived from plants and herbs belonging to the Ephedracaee Ephedra family. It is most commonly found in either Ephedrine Hydrochloride (HCl) or Ephedrine Sulfate form.
In the United States, Ephedrine is usually modified and marketed as pseudoephedrine due to the substance’s common misuse in the production of methamphetamine, more commonly called crystal meth.
Interesting Facts about Ephedrine
- Ephedrine is very similar to the drug methamphetamine, although it does not have as many or as strong of effects as the narcotic.
- Ephedrine Hydrochloride melts at 188° Centigrade.
- Ephedrine has a half-life of 3-6 hours.
How Ephedrine Works
Ephedrine works by binding with beta-adrenergic receptors on the cellular level. When any type of antagonist binds with these receptors, the body responds sympathetically, and responds with a type of fight-or-flight response.
Although Ephedrine does not effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, it may interact slightly with the body’s central-nervous system (CNS). The drug works mainly by combining with noradrenalin and entering into nerve cells.
Ephedrine is an alkaloid, meaning it has a high pH. Nerve cells are more likely to remain receptive when the experience an increase in pH. Because of this, more noradrenalin is able to penetrate the cell, causing the desired effects, and increasing the time taken for this process to occur.
Ephedrine doesn’t only increase the effects of adrenaline and noradrenalin. It also causes a release of the brain’s natural anti-depressant, serotonin, along with dopamine. The drug interacts with these two feel-good chemicals in a similar way, thereby significantly altering their mode of action. Although little is known about how Ephedrine affects serotonin, it is clear that something occurs that causes an increase in mood and brighter change in personality. Also, the dopamine released during ingestion of Ephedrine has led some to believe that the substance has a potential for addiction.
Ephedrine for Weight-Loss
Ephedrine is quite commonly and successfully used to aid in weight-loss because it is acts as a thermogenic. Thermogenics produce heat when metabolically stimulated. This property causes an increase in the breakdown of fat, a process called associated lipolysis. Ephedrine also suppresses an individual’s appetite, which is an obvious plus for any calorie-counting dieter.
Along with helping to burn fat and cut down cravings, Ephedrine gives an individual an energy boost and an increased sense of focus, which are commonly lacking in persons with low-calorie diets.
Ephedrine Misuse & Abuse
Bodybuilders, cyclists, martial artists, and the common Joe have all been known to use Ephedrine for other-than-intended purposes. An obvious reason for its misuse includes its ability to increase the rate at which the body burns off fat. The drug also aids in toning up the body, all the while giving the individual an increase in energy, making exercise a more enjoyable, if not tolerable, activity.
More recently, Ephedrine has been used as a study-aid by college and university students abroad. The drug provides individuals with an increased ability to concentrate; causing a decrease in the time it takes for one to complete a given task. This drug has similar, yet less potent, effects to the commonly marketed drugs Adderall, Vivance, Ritalin and Focalin. These drugs are all used for the treatment of ADD and ADHD.
Recreationally, Ephedrine is used by teens and young adults at parties to keep them going all night. It is also added to cocaine because it causes a buzz, and can help increase the amount of product a dealer may be trying to push.
Side Effects of Ephedrine
Although when used properly, Ephedrine will most likely not cause you any harm, an overdose or misusage of the drug may cause any of the following side effects.
- Increased Sweating
- Light Headache
- Gastrointestinal Distress
- Wakefulness and Insomnia
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Increased Heart Rate
- Heart Palpitations
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Stroke Seizures
- Irritability and Aggression
Ephedrine may cause some to experience depression or an increase in depression. Dehydration may also occur, so one should be sure to drink plenty of water whenever ingesting Ephedrine or any of its derivatives.
As described above, many people find a number of the side-effects of Ephedrine to be positives, and tend to enjoy the effects. However, it’s important to bear in mind that no drug should ever be used as a performance-enhancer without prior discussion with your doctor.
Proper Dosing for Exercise
For the newcomer, an initial dose of 25mg of Ephedrine would do the trick. This initial quantity is usually enough to jump start the metabolism and assist the individual in losing weight. From here, one may choose to safely increase their dose to 25mg twice daily, and then 50mg twice daily.
It is best to take your dose of Ephedrine a little more than half an hour before exercising. When taking a second daily dose, it is best to remember that Ephedrine does has some stimulant-like effects, and it is wise to never take it any less than 6 hours before bed-time.
Caution must be exercised when taking Ephedrine for these purposes. It is commonly seen that individuals are tempted to increase their dose to an excess of 200mg daily. There is a common misconception that arises from no longer feeling the stimulant effect of the drug. Although these effects are no longer noticed, the thermogenic effects are still occurring, and the drug is still aiding in weight loss. This is dangerous because it may lead to dependency and addiction. It is best to remain vigilant when using Ephedrine for exercise!
Use ephedrine only on days when you are exercising, and only then.
Who Shouldn’t Use Ephedrine?
Please consult your doctor before taking Ephedrine or any similar compounds if you are unsure of their effects or have any questions.
Ephedrine should not be used by anyone with underlying heart disease, high blood pressure, history of heart disease of any type, stroke or other cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, bi-polar, metabolic acidosis, diabetes mellitus or if any of the side effects listed above are a recurrent problem.
Also, anybody who is currently taking SSRI, NDRI or SNRI anti-depressants, Bupropion, MAOI’s, anesthetics or beta-blockers should not take Ephedrine or any similar compounds until consulting with their prescribing physician(s) or pharmacist.
Like Ephedrine, Synephrine is a compound that has very similar attributes and works by constricting blood vessels and increasing an individual’s blood pressure and heart rate. Synephrine has become the replacement for Ephedrine in many weight-loss formulas that claim to no longer contain Ephedrine. It is very likely that Synephrine is nearly identical to Ephedrine, if not worse for you.
Along with the standard side-effects of Ephedrine, Synephrine has also been reported to cause an increased risk of ischemic stroke, increased blood pressure, arrhythmias and cardiac infarctions.
Many common over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, such as Sudafed PE, contain a drug known as pseudoephedrine that replaces Ephedrine. Pseudoephedrine does not have the same effects on the body as Ephedrine because it does not bind with noradrenalin.
Studies have shown that pseudoephedrine can be used for weight-loss purpose and that it does have some thermogenic effects. However, in order to achieve the desired results, one must consume 6x more pseudoephedrine than would be necessary when using Ephedrine.
Pseudoephedrine works by constricting blood vessels, preventing fluids like mucus from traveling into the sinuses and nasal cavity, thereby preventing congestion.
In the same way that Ephedrine has been phased out of medications in the past, pseudoephedrine is now on its way out due its ease of use in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
Natural Sources of Ephedrine
Ephedrine comes from herbs in the ephedra genus of the Ephedracaee family. Different herbs contain various amounts of Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Some of these herbs are available as supplements, but the content of Ephedrine and other substances is not exactly known, and the companies that manufacture these products are quite vague about the quantities of Ephedrine.
Má Háung (Ephedra sinica)
Má Háung is the most common herbal form of Ephedrine.
Bala (Sida cordifolia)
An herb containing high levels of Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that does not belong to the Ephedra family. It has not been slandered in the same fashion as Ephedrine, so it is commonly found in many dietary products.
Soma (Ephedra vulgaris)
Ephedra is a natural form of Ephedrine that has ties to Hinduism.
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium)
Used in weight-loss products, although it doesn’t necessarily contain ephedrine.
Ephedrine, Caffeine & Aspirin
Ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin (ECA Stack) have a synergistic effect when used simultaneously. When used in combination, an individual will experience weight-loss, an increase in energy levels, and enhanced physical performance.
- The usual ratio for Ephedrine to caffeine to aspirin is: 1:10:3.
- The standard dosage of Ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin is:
- 20-30mg of Ephedrine
- 200mg of caffeine (2-3 cups of coffee)
- 75mg of aspirin
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