The ephedra sinica plant has a number of recorded medicinal uses, most notably of which is its effectiveness as a stimulant to promote healthy amounts of weight loss in a short period of time. It has been used in Chinese traditional treatments for thousands of years and is also found in Ephedra Tea or Ma Huang Tea. The ephedra sinica herb also goes by the name Ma Huang and often if you want to buy pure ephedra you will look for ma huang extract or leaves.
Ephedra sinica is such a powerful herbal supplement because it contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – two alkaloids that are often found in bronchodilators, asthma relief pills, and nasal decongestants. Pure ephedra extract contains anywhere from 0.5% to 2.3% of the active ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids with ephedrine making up the majority of this percentage.
There are a variety of different ephedra plants besides ephedra sinica. These can include ephedra nevadensis (or Mormon Tea), sida cordifolia and ephedra viridis. However, because the alkaloid content of these species of the ephedra herb are much lower, they should be avoided for users interested in achieving weight loss or dietary goals. The amount of ephedrine found in these plants is much lower, and in some cases ephedrine may not even be present. Since ephedrine hcl is what creates the fat burning benefits of ephedra, it is better to buy pure ephedrine than risk getting an improper dosage from one of the plant sources.
You will find ephedra extract for sale as a stimulant ingredient in a number of different diet pills and weight loss supplements. However, many diet products will include ephedra extract without the active ephedrine alkaloid limiting their effectiveness for losing weight. This has to do with an FDA regulation that was passed in 2004 banning ephedra alkaloids for sale as part of nutritional supplements. The regulations state that ephedra sinica cannot be marketed for weight loss products and places certain restrictions on importing and growing the herb.
However, even though the ephedra sinica plant is no longer allowed in over-the-counter pills, ephedrine HCL is legal to buy in the USA. The only stipulation is that in order to legally purchase ephedrine hydrochloride, you must buy it in less than 12.5 mg doses and it cannot be marketed as a diet supplement. Instead, it has to be sold and labeled as a decongestant or asthma treatment
Ephedrine HCL is in fact much safer to use than pure ephedra extract products. Studies from both Columbia and Harvard University showed that ephedrine was safe if taken in 10 mg pill doses. But ephedra for sale often contains unsafe contaminants and in some cases even toxins. Also, because the drug is sourced directly from the plant, it is difficult to verify the actual content of ephedrine present in the treatment. Ephedrine, on the other hand, is now generally synthesized in lab environments where contaminants can be removed and doses can be exact.
There are ephedra side effects that you should be aware of before you begin taking the substance to help you lose weight. The best way to ensure that your ephedrine or ephedra diet plan is safe is to speak with a doctor before you begin. Ephedra tea has been known to cause an increase in the heart rate and in blood pressure which can occasionally put a strain on the body’s central nervous system. Ephedrine has proven to be more effective for weight loss when taken together with caffeine, though the use of an ECA Stack may make possible side effects works.
Ephedra and Ephedrine will both also cause you to feel less of an appetite as both of these supplements block the body’s hunger signals from reaching the hypothalamus area of the brain. This can make it a powerful diet aide, but presents some risks for individuals with glaucoma, diabetes, or pregnant women. Some people should never use ephedra to prevent these risks. In severe cases, ephedra has been known to cause heart attacks, strokes, and even death when it is overused or taken for an excessive duration.
Because of these possible adverse side effects, it is always advised to take ephedrine HCL instead of pure ephedra. Ephedrine is the active ingredient in ephedra, but by taking it directly you avoid some of the non-weight loss causing chemicals found in ephedra that may cause risky side effects. Your weight loss will be more controlled and safe when you choose ephedrine vs. ephedra. Ephedrine is also usually much cheaper than ephedra because it is synthesized in a lab rather than harvested from the ephedra sinica plant.
- Astrup A, et al. The effect and safety of an ephedrine/caffeine compound compared to ephedrine, caffeine and placebo in obese subjects on an energy restricted diet. A double blind trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1992)
- Toubro S, et al. The acute and chronic effects of ephedrine/caffeine mixtures on energy expenditure and glucose metabolism in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1993)