CAS RN: 299-42-3

Major Uses

In Oriental medicines, ephedra is the chief drug for treatment of asthma and bronchitis. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine as a primary component of multi-herb formulas prescribed to treat bronchial asthma, cold and flu, cough and wheezing, feven, chills, lact of perspiration, headache, and nasal congestion. ...Today, ephedra is official in the national pharmacopeias of China, Germany, and Japan. In India, ephedra herb is listed in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. Only its isolated derivatives ephedrine and ephedrine hydrochloride are official in the Indian Pharmacopeia. /Ephedra/
Ephedra is an evergreen shrub-like plant native to Central Asia and Mongolia. The principal active ingredient, ephedrine, is a compound that can powerfully stimulate the nervous system and heart. Ephedra has been used for more than 5,000 years in China and India to treat conditions such as colds, fever, flu, headaches, asthma, wheezing, and nasal congestion. More recently, ephedra was used as an ingredient in dietary supplements for weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced athletic performance.
In Germany, ephedra is official in the German Pharmacopeia and is an approved herb in the Commission E monographs. It is used as a primary component of licensed prepared respiratory medicines. /Ephedra/
Because of its stimulant effects, ephedrine has been misused and abused by athletes, bodybuilders, weight lifters, and others, including high school- and college-aged individuals engaged in sports. Evidence from several surveys indicates that about 4% of student athletes and 13-25% of individuals attending a gymnasium use ephedrine.
Over-the-counter ephedrine has been abused by some users including adolescents and young adults for its CNS stimulating action. Ephedrine (as the primary precursor) also has been used in the clandestine synthesis of methamphetamine and methcathinone (both potent CNS stimulants with great potential for habituation and physical and/or psychic dependence).
Ephedra became controversial in the 1980-1990s due to its popularity as a major ingredient in herbal dietary supplements in the United States. Regulators and health officials were becoming increasingly concerned about its use for various purposes that were not approved for OTC drug use by the FDA, e.g., in products intended as diet aids for weight loss, for stimulation of the CNS, for enhancement of athletic performance, and briefly, as substitutes for illegal street drugs. /Ephedra/ /Former use/
Dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids were widely sold in the United States/before they were banned by FDA in 2004 /Ephedrine alkaloids/ /Former use/
Used in asthma therapy mainly in combination with other agents.
THERAP CAT: Bronchodilator
THERAP CAT (VET): Bronchodilator; in treatment of urinary incontinence
Medication (vet)
Traditional medicine
Ephedra (ma huang) is the common name for a herbal product used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. /Ephedra/
Find more information on this substance at: PubChem, PubMed