The stimulant and thermogenic effects of Ephedra Viridis and other Ephedra species are due to the presence of the alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These compounds stimulate the brain, increase heart rate, constrict blood vessels (increasing blood pressure), and expand bronchial tubes (making breathing easier). Their thermogenic properties cause an increase in metabolism, evidenced by an increase in body heat.
Ephedra is widely used by athletes as a performance-enhancing drug, despite a lack of evidence that it improves athletic performance. Ephedra may also be used as a precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine.
Ephedra has been used as a weight-loss aid, sometimes in combination with aspirin and caffeine. Some studies in regulated and supervised environments have shown that ephedra is effective for marginal short-term weight loss (0.9 kg/month more than the placebo), although it was unclear whether such weight loss is maintained. However, several reports have documented a number of adverse events attributable to unregulated ephedra supplements.
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