Ephedra sinica [Ephedra, Ephedrine, ma huang] Weight Loss

Coronary thrombosis related to use of Ephedra extract

Ephedra has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years. The stimulant and thermogenic effects of Ephedra sinica is due to the presence of the alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.[1] These compounds stimulate the brain, increases blood pressure, increases heart rate, increased thermogenesis.

Ephedra has been widely used as a weight-loss aid. Some studies in regulated and supervised environments have shown that ephedra is effective for short-term weight loss (0.9 kg/month more than the placebo).[2]

Case Report with Ephedra extract

Rajesh Sachdeva and colleagues[3] reported the case of a young body builder with acute onset of chest pain that radiated to the left arm, accompanied by numbness of the left arm and hand. He was diagnosed with myocardial infarction(blocked blood flow to a part of the heart) due to coronary thrombosis after using Xenadrine RFA for 1 year. Xenadrine RFA contained 335 mg of ma huang (ephedra extract) and 910 mg of guarana seed. The combined effects of caffeine and ephedra increase myocardial oxygen consumption by increasing heart rate and can potentially diminish coronary blood flow. This can lead to the development of thrombosis.

Note: In August 2006 FDA has banned Ephedra in the U.S. due to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to its use.[4]



  1. Abourashed E, El-Alfy A, Khan I, Walker L (2003). “Ephedra in perspective–a current review“. Phytother Res 17 (7): 703–12.
  2. Boozer C, Daly P, Homel P, Solomon J, Blanchard D, Nasser J, Strauss R, Meredith T (2002). “Herbal ephedra/caffeine for weight loss: a 6-month randomized safety and efficacy trial“. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 26 (5): 593–604.
  3. Sachdeva, Rajesh, et al. “Coronary thrombosis related to use of Xenadrine® RFA.” Texas Heart Institute Journal 32.1 (2005): 74.
  4. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108715.htm. Accessed 28. January 2013