All You Need to Know About Ephedrine

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A Guide to Steroids…

phedrine is a sympathomimatic amine derived from a shrub like plant called Ephedra, especially Ephedra sinica , which is found in desert regions in central Asia and other parts of the world and is famous for its dried greens which have medicinal properties. Ephedra’s main active medical ingredients are the alkaloids ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine and the Ephedrine is most usually marketed in the hydrochloride and sulfate forms.


Therapeutic properties of Ephedrine:

Ephedrine is a white odorless powdered or crystalline alkaloid commonly used as stimulant, appetite suppressant, concentration aid, decongestant, and to treat hypotension associated with anesthesia. It is an FDA-regulated drug commonly prescribed as a bronchodilator to treat bronchitis and asthma.

Ephedrine is also frequently used intravenously in the reversal of hypotension from spinal/epidural anesthesia. It is also used in other hypotensive states, including overdose with ganglionic blocking agents, anti-adrenergic agents, or other medications that lower blood pressure. It can be used in narcolepsy and nocturnal enuresis.


Mechanism of Action:

Principally, Ephedrine acts direct or indirectly on the adrenergic receptor system which is a part of the sympathetic nervous system ( SNS) . CNS is also involved to some extent; however, the predominant clinical effects are caused by involvement with the sympathetic segment of the peripheral nervous system. Ephedrine has been found to increase the post-synaptic noradrenergic receptor activity by directly activating post-synaptic α- & β-receptors. It mimics adrenaline and nor-adrenaline, structurally, so that the pre-synaptic neurons are unable to distinguish between real hormones from ephedrine.


Side Effects of Ephedrine:

Various adverse reactions or side effects of Ephedrine have been found to be more common with systemic administration of the drug, for instance, intravenous injection or oral administration as compared to topical administration like nasal instillations. Some of the side effects associated with ephedrine use include, but are not limited to:

  • Cardiovascular:
    Ephedrine may lead to tachycardia (i.e. abnormally rapid heartbeat),
    cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris i.e. a heart condition marked by
    paroxysms of chest pain due to reduced oxygen to the heart, and
    vasoconstriction with hypertension.
  • Genitourinary: There may be an increased urine output due to increased blood flow while there may also be some difficulty in urinating as alpha-agonists such as ephedrine constrict the internal urethral sphincter.
  • Neuro-muscular Complications : Ephedrine may lead to restlessness, confusion, insomnia, and mild euphoria. In extreme cases, there may be hostility, panic, and/or agitation. Formication, i.e. a form of hallucinated sensation that insects or snakes are crawling over the skin, may also be possible but lacks attested evidence. There may be some delusions, hallucinations and some degree of paranoia in rare cases except in previously existing psychiatric conditions.

A Word of Caution:

If you have any of the
following medical conditions, Ephedrine is not recommended for use:
Glaucoma, certain psychiatric conditions, cardio-vascular complications,
diabetes, hyperthyroidism, fluctuating blood pressure, and/or any
allergies. It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk or
not and due to the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while
using this drug is not recommended.

article is NEITHER meant to be an alternative to professional healthcare
consultation NOR as a guide to self medication.


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