Prior to the ban, research showed that dietary supplements containing ephedra/ephedrine (usually in combination with caffeine) had modest short-term effects on weight loss. However, this benefit was considered insufficient to outweigh the serious risks of these supplements. No studies had assessed long-term effects on weight. The evidence regarding athletic performance was insufficient to allow any conclusions to be reached.

Side Effects Of Ephedra

The FDA banned dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids because of their serious safety risks. The supplements were associated with cases of heart attack, seizure, stroke, and sudden death. People with a history of cardiovascular disease, those taking high doses of ephedra, and those taking it in combination with other stimulants such as caffeine would be expected to be at increased risk, but some of the severe events occurred in people with no preexisting medical problems, people taking relatively low doses of ephedra, or people taking it alone.

Taking ephedra may also cause anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, irritability, nausea, personality changes, insomnia, and other symptoms.

Because of the serious risks, it is considered unsafe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.


Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.


All information on ephedra has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.