Evidence

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.

Key to grades

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)

Grading rationale

Evidence gradeCondition to which grade level applies
B

Weight loss

In human research, ephedra caused weight loss when used in combination with caffeine. The research on ephedra alone is limited and results are mixed. The amounts of ephedra in commercially available products varied widely and numerous adverse effects have been reported. Further research is necessary.
C

Allergic nasal symptoms (used as a nose wash)

Early studies suggest that ephedrine nasal spray may help treat symptoms of nasal allergies. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
C

Asthma

Ephedra contains the chemicals ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are bronchodilators (expand the airways for easier breathing). It has been used and studied to treat asthma and chronic lung diseases in both children and adults. Other treatments, such as inhalers (for example albuterol), are more commonly recommended due to safety concerns with ephedra or ephedrine. Further research is needed.
C

Athletic performance enhancement

Early research demonstrates mixed findings regarding the effects of ephedra on athletic performance. Further research is needed in this area.
C

Low blood pressure

Chemicals in ephedra may 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 lack sufficient study. Further research is needed.
C

Respiratory infections

Limited research shows that ephedra in combination with other herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may be beneficial for infections of the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, and mouth). Further research of ephedra alone is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Sexual arousal

Early research suggests that ephedra may increase sexual arousal in women. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.

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, bed-wetting, body building, colds, cough, depression, diaphoretic (causing sweating), diuretic (increasing urine flow), fatigue, fevers, flu, gonorrhea, gout, hives, joint pain, kidney disease, kidney inflammation, liver spots, metabolic enhancement, narcolepsy (daytime sleep attacks), nasal congestion, neuromuscular disorders (nerve and muscle disorders), shortness of breath, skin conditions (freckles), stimulant, swelling, syphilis, uterine stimulant, water retention.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com