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Observations placeholder

Herbal supplements and ephedrine



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


Ephedrine is commonly used as a bronchodilator and also as a stimulant and appetite suppressant, and to treat hypotension associated with anaesthesia. It is similar in structure to the derivatives amphetamine and methamphetamine. It works mainly by increasing the activity of noradrenaline on adrenergic receptors and is usually marketed in the hydrochloride and sulfate forms. It is treated as an agonist at both the alpha and beta receptors. 

Both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine act as a bronchodilator, but pseudoephedrine has considerably less effect. Both also increase blood pressure, with again pseudoephedrine being considerably less effective

Chemically, it is an alkaloid derived from various plants in the genus Ephedra (family Ephedraceae).

A description of the experience

Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Jan;162(1):189-91. Psychiatric effects of ephedra use: an analysis of Food and Drug Administration reports of adverse events. Maglione M, Miotto K, Iguchi M, Jungvig L, Morton SC, Shekelle PG. RAND, Santa Monica, CA 90407, USA. maglione@rand.org

OBJECTIVE: As part of a synthesis of evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of ephedra, the authors describe data on psychiatric adverse events from reports submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

METHOD: The authors reviewed all 1,820 adverse event reports related to dietary supplements containing herbal ephedra from FDA MedWatch files as of Sept. 30, 2001. Fifty-seven serious psychiatric events were reported.

RESULTS: The most commonly reported events were psychosis, severe depression, mania or agitation, hallucinations, sleep disturbance, and suicidal ideation. Ten events involved physical harm to self or others; five events resulted in legal action due to criminal behavior. Twenty-six events resulted in hospitalization, at least six of which were involuntary. Of importance, two-thirds of all cases involved patients with preexisting psychiatric conditions and /or use of other medications or illicit substances.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians should be aware that serious psychiatric symptoms could be associated with ephedra use.

PMID: 1562522

The source of the experience


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