Ephedra (Ma Huang): Weight Loss, Dangers, and Legal Status

Ephedra (Ma Huang) Tea: Weight Loss, Dangers, and Legal Status

The Ma Huang plant is native to China. Its leaves are used in Chinese medicine for many ailments including asthma, bronchitis, coughs and colds.

However it’s most famous use is its medicinal properties for weight loss. According to some sources the leaves contain up to 90% caffeine which makes them popular among those trying to lose weight or maintain their current size.

It is illegal to sell or possess ephedra without a prescription in all 50 states. If you’re caught with ephedra, you could face severe penalties such as jail time and fines.

There have been several cases where users were charged with possession of ephedra even though they had no idea what the substance was. These charges often resulted in lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

However, there are other ways to obtain ephedra. One way is through the black market.

Another method involves buying it online from vendors who ship it from overseas. You may also buy ephedra at your local drug store or health food shop.

If you choose to purchase ephedra illegally, you will likely pay a high price for the product. In addition the quality of ephedra is usually low, making it less effective for weight loss.

You could also face legal problems if you’re caught with it.

So is it worth the risk or trouble?

Well if you’re really serious about losing weight and don’t mind risking legal trouble, then by all means go for it. However, we believe that there are safer and more reliable ways of losing weight.

The most popular and legal way of losing weight is through diet and exercise. There are several types of diet plans you can try such as low-carbohydrate, low-calorie, low-fat, etc.

As far as exercise goes, you have many options including aerobics, jogging, biking, swimming, Zumba, Yoga, etc.

There are also prescription drugs you can take to lose weight such as Alli and Xenical. These drugs work by preventing your body from absorbing a certain percentage of fat that you eat.

They’re not for everyone however and you do need to follow a low-fat diet when taking these medications.

Safety Tip: It’s also important to remember that Ephedra is just one of several weight loss options available to you. In some cases people have had negative side effects using this supplement.

It’s best to consult a physician before using any weight loss medication. Always read the recommended dosage and other precautionary labels.

How To Extract Ephedrine From Ma Huang

Get a quantity of dry ma huang (ephedra) plants. Ephedra grows as a shrub so you can easily collect it in the wild or you can buy it from herbal supply stores.

Put on a medium pair of rubber gloves and then begin removing the leaves off the stems. Ephedra has a foul smell so you might want to do this outdoors

Place the ephedra leaves in a pot and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for two hours.

Strain out the liquid using a strainer or cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.

Let the liquid cool down before putting it in the refrigerator. Ephedrine is soluble in cold liquids but not in hot ones.

What remains is ephedrine water, which can be ingested or injected directly into the blood stream (intravenously) to produce psychoactive effects.

How To Consume Ephedrine

The most popular way of consuming ephedra is by using it as a weight loss aid. It increases the body’s metabolic rate, resulting in faster breakdown of fats.

Some people also use it to treat asthma problems because it relieves wheezing and shortness of breath caused by asthma attacks.

There are several ways to consume ephedrine. You can buy it as a dietary supplement in pill form.

You can make your own ephedrine capsules by placing 1 to 2 grams of ephedra powder inside a gelatin capsule.

You can also buy ephedrine in liquid form. Simply dissolve one of the ephedrine pills in 3 ounces of water and consume before meals.

Some people like to mix ephedrine with other supplements such as caffeine or aspirin. Always follow the recommended dosage on the product you buy.

Usage and Dosage

Ephedra is a natural stimulant so it should not be taken in the evening or before going to bed. Always take it in the morning and follow all label directions for frequency and dosage.

Start with a smaller dosage such as 25 mg, which is half of a regular ephedrine pill. Wait at least four hours before deciding if you need to take more.

If you’re using ephedra to lose weight, remember that it is just one of several weight loss methods you can use. It can increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn calories faster, but you still need to follow a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise.

It’s also important to note that ephedra is not recommended for everyone. It can increase blood pressure in some people and it can interact with other medications such as asthma inhalers.

You should never take it if you have high blood pressure, overactive thyroid, heart disease or a history of heart trouble. It’s not recommended that you use it if you’re pregnant or nursing either.

Side Effects

Some common side effects of ephedrine include rapid heart rate, insomnia, restlessness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, headaches and ringing in the ears. Because it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, it can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Taking ephedrine can also increase your likelihood of experiencing psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression or paranoia. If you experience any of these symptoms or any others that concern you, be sure to contact your doctor right away.


Many people become psychologically dependent on ephedrine, meaning that they feel as if they need to take it in order to feel normal. If you find that you are psychologically dependent on ephedrine, you should consult your doctor to have him help you slowly reduce your dosage over a 7 – 10 day period.

Stopping ephedrine suddenly can cause serious health risks so it is essential that you do so under medical supervision.

Ephedra and Weight Loss

Ephedra is a popular supplement for people trying to lose weight because it increases the body’s metabolic rate, allowing it to burn calories faster. It isn’t a miracle weight loss product though and it won’t work without some type of diet and exercise program.

Combine the three and you’ll have the best chance of seeing results.

Even though it does increase your body’s metabolic rate, ephedra is most effective when taken BEFORE a meal so that you burn off the food you just ingested rather than store it as fat. Use it in this way and you may see an increase in weight loss of about one pound a week, which is just about the maximum benefit you’ll get from ephedra.

The Bottom Line

Most experts don’t recommend using ephedra for extended periods of time because of the risks involved. If you do decide to use it, make sure you follow the directions carefully and never take more than the recommended dosage.

Be aware of potential side effects such as rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and psychosis and report them to your doctor immediately if you experience them.

Do not use ephedra if you have any of the following conditions: heart disease, high blood pressure, overactive thyroid, diabetes or anxiety disorder.

Sources & references used in this article:

Weight loss product by AM Fleischner – US Patent 6,420,350, 2002 – Google Patents

Herbal appetite suppressant and weight loss composition by B Haveson – US Patent 5,798,101, 1998 – Google Patents

Methods and compositions for producing weight loss by EH Kuhrts – US Patent 6,475,530, 2002 – Google Patents

Herbal appetite suppressant and weight loss composition by B Haveson – US Patent 5,985,282, 1999 – Google Patents

Ephedra in perspective–a current review by EA Abourashed, AT El‐Alfy, IA Khan… – Phytotherapy …, 2003 – Wiley Online Library