Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Ephedra
NOTE: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has banned the sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedra (ephedrine alkaloids) because of concerns about its safety. The
product has been linked to
strokes, and some deaths.
Ephedra—also known as ma huang
and by its scientific name, Ephedra sinica—is an herbal
product that comes from an evergreen plant. The Chinese used these plants 5,000
years ago, possibly for the treatment of
asthma and hay fever. But they used plant preparations
unlike the modern ephedra supplements that are now banned.
stimulates the nervous system and the heart.
Serious problems are associated with ephedra. There
have been some reports of heart attacks and deaths after its use.
The FDA has banned the sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedra (ephedrine alkaloids) because of concerns about its safety. The ban doesn't apply to other uses of ephedra, such as herbal teas or Chinese herbal remedies.
Serious problems from using ephedra include:
Other side effects include:
For people who have heart disease, diabetes, or heart problems, using ephedra may make these conditions worse.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your standard medical treatment. It may not be safe to stop your standard medical treatment and use only a natural health product.
Other Works Consulted
Murray MT, Pizzorno JE (2013). Ephedra species. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 731–734. St. Louis: Mosby.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofOctober 13, 2016
Current as of:
October 13, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.