Ephedra has been one of the leading ingredients in weight loss and diet aids for decades. Whether a person knows it as ephedra sinica, ma huang, or ephedra extract that herbal plant has its benefits and concerns. Understanding the differences between the versions of ephedra is key in unlocking the health benefits potential for each individual.
What is Ephedra?
Ephedra in its simplest form is an herb or just a plant. Ephedra has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and more recently in diet pills for weight loss benefits. It is the tops of the ephedra plant that are often used for health benefits though the entire plant can be consumed.
The version of the ephedra plant called ephedra sinica has been banned by the FDA. Ephedra sinica contains ephedrine alkaloids which is the compound that has been banned. The legal version of ephedra is often from ephedra nevadensis which contains non of the banned alkaloids.
What are the benefits of ephedra?
Ephedra has been widely used for lots of different health benefits. Not all benefits have the same amount of research supporting the possible use. People have taken ephedra for years to support weight loss, improve sports performance, allergies, congestion, fight colds, and as a diuretic.
There have many studies that have shown positive benefits of taking ephedra for weight loss. In one recent study looking at obese women the combination of ephedra plus caffeine showed a significant weight loss benefits over the placebo group. The researchers concluded that taking a dietary supplement with low doses of ephedra and caffeine can have a positive effect on weight loss and fat loss.
The evidence surrounding the health benefits of ephedra for allergies, congestion, and colds is inconclusive. One of the major issues with this research is each study uses a different ephedra herb. Presently ephedrine is an over the counter medication for the use of asthma and bronchia related issues.