Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

Ephedrine, ephedra alkaloids, ma huang


Ephedra is a plant that grows in Asia and the Southwestern United States. It has been used for weight loss. The FDA has banned ephedra in weight loss products due to safety concerns. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or made into a tea.


There are no advised doses for ephedra.

What Research Shows

There is not enough data to support that ephedra is helpful in treating health problems. We will review future studies as they are published.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

Ephedra is not safe. Products with ephedra are banned in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration does not advise taking ephedra or ephedra-like products. They may cause irregular heart activity and many other health problems, such as stroke and heart attack. No one should take ephedra.A1-A3


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


A. Safety

A1. Haller CA, Benowitz NL. Adverse cardiovascular and central nervous system events associated with dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(25):1833-1838.

A2. Andraws R, Chawla P, et al. Cardiovascular effects of ephedra alkaloids: a comprehensive review. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2005 Jan-Feb;47(4):217-225. Review.

A3. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, et al. Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body weight reduction: systematic review. Obes Rev. 2005 May;6(2):93-111. Review.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 5/6/2020

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