Although traditional Chinese medicine has a variety of ephedra uses, the supplement has been best known as a weight loss pill. The active ingredients in ephedra are chemically similar to amphetamines and act as powerful stimulants. As a result, ephedra may suppress the appetite and boost metabolism. However, ephedra was banned from use in the United States due to safety concerns, including potentially dangerous side effects.
What Is Ephedra Used For?Ephedra (also known as ma huang) is a banned substance in the United States. While it is still used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of uses, it was most popular as a weight loss supplement.
With obesity on the rise (see Obesity Statistics), people are desperate for "quick fixes" to help with weight loss. Although the ideal weight loss plans focus on gradual weight loss by eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity (see How to Lose Weight), many people have difficulty following such plans (or feel they need extra assistance in their efforts). Before turning to drastic measures, such as weight loss surgery, many people consider using weight loss pills, especially if they have unsuccessfully tried to control their obesity (and exercise and diet have been ineffective).
While ephedra may be effective for short-term weight loss, it has been banned in the United States due to safety concerns (see Ephedra Safety or Buy Ephedra for more information).