Overview

Ephedra is a stimulant herb usually from the stem and branches of Ephedra sinica. Most ephedra species contain the chemical ephedrine. It's banned in the US.

The ephedrine in ephedra is responsible for its therapeutic effects and also its serious safety concerns. It stimulates the heart, lungs, and nervous system.

People use ephedra for weight loss and athletic performance. It's also used for allergies, nasal congestion, asthma, common cold, headache, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Ephedra is also unsafe.

Ephedra has been banned by the US FDA since April 2004. It's also banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), International Olympic Committee (IOC), and National Football League (NFL). Don't confuse ephedra with Mormon tea. Mormon tea comes from Ephedra nevadensis, an Ephedra species that doesn't contain ephedrine.

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