The Pros and Cons of
Ephedra is not a new innovation. The herb ephedra
– also known as ma huang and often described as the miracle fat burner –
contains natural alkaloids and has been used by the Chinese in herbal
medicines for thousands of years. Over the years, it has been used to treat
various ailments, but today it is best known an aid to helping with weight
Ephedra has been the center of controversy and
debate recently, because of its many adverse side effects and at one time
the FDA even banned the herb for a short time. Many doctors and dietitians
don’t recommend taking ephedra but despite this, today more than 12 million
Americans take ephedra primarily to lose weight.
There is no doubt of the herb’s usefulness and
effectiveness as an aid to losing weight quickly and effectively – more than
one expert considers ephedra to be the best method for losing weight ever
devised. And most people take it sensibly and in moderation, with few side
effects or adverse reactions.
When used in the correct amounts and in
moderation, ephedra helps the body to burn fat for energy. Ephedra is so
effective because it helps increase the breakdown of fatty tissue, suppress
the appetite and maintain energy levels. It also produces more body heat,
which in turn burns more calories – a process known as thermogenesis.
Apart from weight loss, ephedra has several other
benefits. Many athletes and sports players regularly take ephedra not only
to lose weight, but to help boost energy and enhance performance. It can
certainly boost energy levels and increase metabolism, which helps the body
to process food more efficiently.
Ephedra has other benefits which most people
overlook, because of its amazing ability to help with weight loss.
Consumption of ephedra can help to cure coughing and asthma by relaxing the
air passage in the lungs. It can also relieve the effects of edema, a
condition caused by excess fluid, by promoting increased urination.
However, ephedra can have many side effects if it
isn’t ingested sensibly and in the correct dosage. These can include such
things as headache, dizziness, increased blood pressure, chest pain, stroke
and seizures. Some experts have pointed out that many of these side effects
result from other common substances – such as coffee - and are not unique to
One disadvantage of ephedra is that it is not
suitable for everyone. It should not be taken by pregnant women or people
suffering from such ailments as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart
disease. And people who are using various other prescription drugs on a
regular basis should not take ephedra.
Perhaps the most serious side effect of ephedra is
its tendency to over stimulate the central nervous system, when ingested.
This has the dual effect of increasing the heart rate and raising blood
pressure – a potentially dangerous combination.
Ephedra is also considered to be an amphetamine,
and like most other amphetamines, it is addictive. Withdrawal symptoms after
prolonged use may include heart palpitations, mood swings and cold sweats.
Some people who stop taking ephedra tend to indulge in “binge eating” -
which just has the result of putting all the lost weight back on again.
The controversy surrounding the so-called miracle
fat burner is likely to be around for a while. If you are thinking of taking
ephedra, always consult with your physician and make sure you have all the
facts before making a decision.