It’s been called world’s oldest medicine, miracle fat burner, and is known in some parts of U.S. as “Mormon tea.” Ephedra (also called Ma-huang or epitonin) has been used for its healing powers for more than 5000 years by Chinese, who discovered plant’s healing properties. So why was it banned by U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004, and more importantly, why was ban recently lifted?
What is Ephedra?
Ephedra grows all over world, and in Western United States, this flowering shrub can be found in deserts and sagebrush areas. The plant can be ground into powder for capsules, or dried and used in tea. Ephedrine is “active” ingredient in ephedra, responsible for its healing properties. Ephedrine is a nerve stimulant similar to adrenaline, but not as strong as amphetamine.
What Does It Do?
Dieters have long known powerful effects of ephedra in promoting weight loss. Basically, ephedrine creates a thermogenic response, speeding up metabolism and expediting body’s fat burning rate while preserving muscle. Ephedra has proved to be particularly effective for people with a slow metabolism, who have previously had trouble losing weight.
Additionally, ephedrine can be used to treat bronchial asthma and cough by relaxing air passages in lungs. For this same reason, plant is helpful in treating effects allergies and hay fever. Ephedra can assist in fighting a minor cold by causing perspiration and urination (to relieve swelling and fluid retention). Alternative uses for ephedra include treating muscle and joint conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, and rheumatism. A synthetic (man-made) replacement, called pseudoephedrine, was created and is widely used in common over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed.
Possible side effects of ephedrine include insomnia, dry mouth, nervousness, general weakness, poor digestion, irritability, headache, dizziness, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and heart palpitations. Not surprisingly, this list is markedly similar to over-the-counter medications with active ingredient pseudoephedrine.