|Title:||Ephedrine: Fast Facts|
|Publisher:||Do It Now Foundation|
|Publication Date:||February 2010|
Overview: For an ancient drug, changes sure have been swirling up around ephedrine in recent years. Why? Mostly because ephedrine is chemically similar to methamphetamine, and has figured into the illicit production of that drug for years. Once a main ingredient in legally-available energizers and nutritional supplements, ephedrine was banned in those products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Then, in 2006, controls on both ephedrine and a synthetic form of the drug, pseudoephedrine, were tightened nationally to restrict their availability as precursor chemicals in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Appearance: In its pure form, ephedrine is a white powder, but it has also been sold in tablet or capsule form or as loose plant material.
Actions/Effects: Ephedrine triggers a mild burst of energy, due to its similarities to the body hormone epinephrine (or adrenaline) and the street drug methamphetamine. In addition to its stimulant effects (which can include feelings of alertness and reduced appetite), ephedrine also relaxes bronchial muscles and dilates airways, and can cause sharp increases in both blood pressure and heart rate.
Medical Uses: Due to its effects on respiration, ephedrine has long been used as an ingredient in over-the-counter cold, allergy, and asthma products.
Side Effects: Common side effects include increased body temperature, sweating, dry mouth and tremors. Higher doses may cause dizziness, restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia.
Risks: Users who are sensitive to ephedrine or who take
high doses may experience potentially-serious health risks, including
abnormally high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, and rapid,
irregular heartbeat. These effects may be accompanied by confusion
and paranoia. An amphetamine-like psychosis has also been linked
to chronic abuse of high-dose levels of the drug.
This is one in a series of publications on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation.
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