So What's the Deal with Ephedra Supplements?

blog-icon By FDN Posted on July 23, 2016

Ephedra Supplements

Ephedra is a herb that contains an active component known as Ephedrine, this product has the ability to increase metabolism and oxidize fat. It is also responsible for increased blood pressure and can seriously affect those with underlying medical problems. For this reason (and the use of Ephedrine in creating Meth) [1] products containing Ephedra are currently banned in the United States.

In Bodybuilding the drugs Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin are taken together (known as ECA), as the combination massively increases results. It is a great short term fat-burner but its longer term uses are lessened as your body adapts to usage.

According to when part of an ECA stack, the correct dosage of Ephedrine is 20-24mg up to 3 times per day. But when taken on its own Ephedrine needs to be taken in doses of between 50-150mg [2].

Caffeine Ephedrine and Aspirin (ECA Stack)

Caffeine and Ephedrine are what’s known as a synergistic pair, this means that together they produce greater results than they would individually. In fact, one study states that it is only the combination of caffeine and ephedrine that produces significant results, not ephedrine alone [3]. Taken together, Ephedrine and caffeine have been shown to increase Thermogenesis [4], increase metabolic rate [5].

Ephedrine and Caffeine have also been shown to improve anaerobic exercise performance, with Ephedrine stimulating the Central Nervous System and Caffeine stimulating the Skeletal Muscle [6]. They have also been shown to be effective at improving 10km run performance [7].

Adding Aspirins to Ephedrine and Caffeine can further increase thermogenesis leading to increased fat loss, but Aspirins alone don’t have any effect [8].

Some people also take fish oil supplements with their ECA stacks. The stack should last between six and eight weeks, before taking a break. This will prevent your body from becoming too accustomed to the drug and also it will stop some of the side effects (such as increased blood pressure) from having any long-term effects.

Ephedrine and Fat

Ephedrine on its own may not be as effective as caffeine at promoting fat loss, but that doesn’t mean it is useless. Multiple studies have shown how effective it can be at lowering body fat, Shekelle et al (2003) found that ephedine promoted increased fat loss (0.9kg/month more than placebo) though many subjects reported gastrointestinal distress and heart palpitations [9].

Ephedrine and Metabolic Rate

Again, most studies involve a combination of caffeine and ephedrine to get results but a study by Astrup et al (1985) found that after 12 weeks the average body weight lost was 5.5kg [10]. Another study found that Ephedrine taken at 1mg/kg of bodyweight was able to increase thermogenesis and metabolic rate [11].


Ephedrine has been banned in the United States and is pretty much banned in the United Kingdom, it is legal in Canada, but only to Canadians. It is not a question of whether Ephedrine works or not (it absolutely does) but whether it is worth the risk? Ephedrine increases blood pressure for an hour after ingestion and as a result it can lead to heart attacks, people don’t like being told that they can’t have something by the government. But this does not mean that the government is necessarily wrong. If you want to give it a try then you check out our fat burner deal category page to see what’s on a deal…



[1] Cavaney, S., Charlet, D., Freitag, H., Maier-Stolte, M., Starratt, A. 2001. New observations on the secondary chemistry of world Ephedra (Ephedraceae). American Journal of Botany 88(7): 1199-208

[2] 2013. Ephedrine. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 July 2016].

[3] Molnar, D., Torok, K., Erhardt, E., Jeges, S. 2000. Safety and efficacy of treatment with an ephedrine/caffeine mixture. The first double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study in adolescents. International Journal of Obesity and other Metabolic Disorders 24(12): 1573-8

[4] Astrup, A., Toubro, S., Cannon, S., Hein, P., Madsen, J. 1991. Thermogenic synergism between ephedrine and caffeine in healthy volunteers: a double blind, placebo-controlled study. Metabolism 40(3): 323-9

[5] Morgan, J., York, D., Wasilewska, A., Portman, J. 1982. A study of the thermic responses to a meal and to a sympathomimetic drug (ephedrine) in relation to energy balance in men. The British Journal of Nutrition 47(1): 21-32

[6] Bell, D., Jacobs, I., Ellerington, K. 2001. Effect of caffeine and ephedrine ingestion on anaerobic exercise performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 33(8): 1399-403

[7] Bell, D., McLellan, T., Sabiston, C. 2002. Effect of ingesting caffeine and ephedrine on 10-km performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 34(2): 344-9

[8] Dulloo, A. 1993. Ephedrine, xanthines and prostaglandin-inhibitors: actions and interactions in the stimulation of thermogenesis. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 17(Suppl. 1): S35-40

[9] Shekelle, P., Hardy, M., Morton, S., Maglione, M., Mojika, W., Suttorp, M., Rhodes, S., Jungvig, L., Gagne, J. 2003. Efficacy and safety of ephedra and ephedrine for weight loss and athletic performance: a meta-analysis. JAMA 289(12): 1537-45

[10] Astrup, A., Lundsgaard, C., Madsen, J., Christensen, N. 1985. Enhanced thermogenic responsiveness during chronic ephedrine treatment in man. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 42(1): 83-94

[11] Astrup, A., Bulow, J., Madsen, J., Christensen, N> 1985. Contribution of BAT and Skeletal muscle to thermogenesis induced by epinephrine in man. The American Journal of Physiology 248(5 Pt 1): E507-15

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