Ephedrine is the active constituent of ma huang, an herbal preparation used medically in China for thousands of years. Also commonly known as ephedra, it is derived from several Asian species of Ephedra. Preparations of these species were formerly used in
natural dieting aids and bodybuilding supplements and also were marketed as
herbal ecstasy. Ephedra and ma huang may cause such side effects as insomnia, restlessness, euphoria, palpitations, and high blood pressure; there have been reports of a number of deaths associated with their use as recreational drugs and dietary supplements. In 2004 the Food and Drug Administration banned sales of dietary supplements containing ephedra because of illnesses and deaths associated with the drug.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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