These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Weight lossEphedra contains the chemical ephedrine, which appears to cause weight loss when used in combination with caffeine, based on the available scientific evidence. The results of research on ephedrine alone without caffeine are unclear. The amounts of ephedrine in commercially available products have varied widely. Other weight loss treatments have been more commonly recommended due to significant safety concerns with combination products containing ephedra and caffeine.
Bronchodilator (asthma)Ephedra contains the chemicals ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are bronchodilators (expand the airways to assist in easier breathing). It has been used and studied to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in both children and adults. Other treatments, such as beta-agonist inhalers (for example, albuterol), are more commonly recommended due to safety concerns with ephedra or ephedrine.
Allergic nasal symptoms (used as a nose wash)Early studies suggest that ephedrine nasal spray, a chemical in ephedra, may help treat symptoms of nasal allergies. Additional research is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
Low blood pressureChemicals in ephedra can stimulate the heart, increase heart rate, and raise blood pressure. Ephedrine, a component of ephedra, is sometimes used in hospitals to help control blood pressure. However, the effects of over-the-counter ephedra supplements taken by mouth are not well described in this area.
Sexual arousalEarly small studies suggest that ephedra may increase sexual arousal in women. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.
A Strong scientific evidence for this use
B Good scientific evidence for this use
C Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Alertness, anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), anti-inflammatory, antiviral, appetite suppressant, arthritis, athletic performance enhancer, bed-wetting, body building, colds, cough, depression, diuretic, dyspnea (shortness of breath), edema, fatigue, fevers, flu, freckle-removing, gonorrhea, gout, hives, joint pain, kidney disease, lack of perspiration, liver spots, metabolic enhancement, myasthenia gravis, narcolepsy, nephritis, stimulant, syphilis, upper respiratory tract infections, uterine stimulant.