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Dispelling the Myths about Ephedra and Ephedrine hcl by Claire Fisher

Dispelling the Myths about Ephedra and Ephedrine hcl

Interested in purchasing Ephedrine hcl but worried and confused about the difference between Ephedrine and Ephedra? Both have been the focus of considerable attention for allegedly causing weight loss by increasing a personís metabolism during a state of rest, curtailing appetite, protecting muscle while a person is on a diet and boosting concentration levels. There is a lot of confusion over the difference between Ephedra and Ephedrine and the two often get mixed up. In a way, the close association is understandable. Ephedra and Ephedrine both come from the Ma Huang plant and Ephedra is also well known for containing Ephedrine alkaloid.

Ephedra is banned but Ephedrine hcl is legal
There is an important distinction to be made between Ephedra and Ephedrine, however. For one, Ephedra is illegal in the United States whereas Ephedrine-containing products are legal. Due to concerns over the safety of Ephedra, the sale of supplements containing Ephedra in the United States was made illegal in 2004. Although supplement manufacturers attempted to overturn the ruling and were initially successful in getting the ban lifted, in the end the ruling to ban Ephedra was upheld. Ephedra was ultimately banned because it is believed that Ephedra has a number of side effects. These include nervousness, insomnia, skin reactions, dehydration, hyperthermia and vomiting. Some side effects associated with Ephedra are more serious, including heart attacks, seizures, stroke and there have even been reports of some fatalities as a result of Ephedra. This includes athletes. For example, it is believed that Ephedra toxicity contributed to the death of Steve Bechler of the Baltimore Orioles after a training workout in 2003. One of the most popular makers of Ephedra supplements, Metabolife, received more than 14,000 reports of side effects allegedly as a result of customers taking their product. The cofounder of Metabolife, Michael Ellis, was sentenced to six months in jail for failing to report the side effects of Metabolifeís supplements to the FDA. On top of this, studies have uncovered that some Ephedra products contain more Ephedra than stated on the packaging.

Contrasting potency
Ephedra and Ephedrine hcl also have varying potency. Ephedrine Hydrochloride or Ephedrine hcl is created in laboratory conditions and as a result it is a lot more stable than Ephedra in its natural form. It is true that, in theory, Ephedra and Ephedrine have similar adverse effects such as dizziness and a quickened heart rate. This issue is mitigated somewhat by the fact that over the counter products made from Ephedrine hcl have such a small dose of Ephedrine so that the side effects in practice can be much less dramatic. Ultimately, Ephedra is a much more potent product because it is Ma Huang in an extremely pure form. In contrast, Ephedrine is an extract, which makes it weaker, something which is reinforced by the fact that it is mixed with other things when made into a supplement. Of course, this is not to say that, as is the case with almost any drug, exceeding the prescribed dosage of Ephedrine hcl, is not dangerous. Exceeding the dosage of a drug, using a drug for anything other than its intended purpose or taking a drug more frequently than advised carries health risks and there is also a risk of developing an addiction to the drug, which may then have to betreated through a rehabilitation program.

Different products used for different things
It should also be highlighted that, although they have very similar names, Ephedra and Ephedrine are actually different products. Known in Chinese as Ma Huang, Ephedra is a traditional Chinese medicine with a history dating back 5,000 years. It comes directly from the Ephedra plant; it is dried and then made into a medicine, sometimes in the form of tablets. Traditionally, people used to boil Ephedra herbs in a tea and then drink it. In contrast, Ephedrine is an ingredient in the Ephedra plants. Moreover, Ephedra and Ephedrine hcl are also ultimately used for different things. Ephedra has been popular in the past because it can speed up a personís metabolism; the alkaloids present in Ephedra have certain thermogenic characteristics that speed up a personís metabolism. It has thus been packaged as a weight loss tool in the past, and such weight loss pills have sometimes contained a mixture of Ephedra, caffeine and aspirin. There is only limited evidence to suggest that Ephedra leads to weight loss. Research has found that it could lead to some limited short term weight loss of just under a kilo per month more than a placebo. Some athletes have also used Ephedra as a performance-enhancing drug. In contrast, Ephedrine hcl is used against asthma and congestion and available either with a prescription or over the counter.

Credits for this article: Claire Fisher.

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