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  • Ephedrine (EPH) is a sympathomimetic amine similar in structure to the synthetic derivatives amphetamine and methamphetamine.

  • Ephedrine is commonly used as a stimulant, appetite suppressant, concentration aid, decongestant and to treat hypotension associated with regional anaesthesia.

  • Ephedrine is an alkaloid derived from various plants in the genus Ephedra (family Ephedraceae). It is most usually marketed in the hydrochloride and sulfate forms.


  • Ephedrine and its chemically related cousin, pseudoephedrine, however, are used for legitimate medical purposes, especially for treating colds and other breathing disorders.

  • Ephedrine was widely used as a topical decongestant and as a bronchodilator in the treatment for asthma.

  • Ephedra is a herb used over 5000 years ago to treat several disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis. Because ephedra has the ability to increase metabolism,and burn fat it became a popular ingredient used in diet pills.

  • Ephedrine is the alkaloidal active principle of the Chinese plant Ma Huang, which has been known in Chinese medicine for some 5,100 years. The plant is a low, practically leafless, shrub, about 60 to 90 cm. high. It is sold freely in the neighbourhood of Pekin, and has been 'Used in China as a diaphoretic, circulatory stimulant, antipyretic, sedative in cough, etc.


  • The production of ephedrine in China has become a multi-million dollar export industry. Companies producing for export extract US$13 million worth of ephedrine from 30,000 tons of ephedra annually, 10 times the amount that is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

  • China and India remain the primary sources for precursor chemicals required in the production of ATS. In recent years both countries have introduced measures to minimise clandestine exports of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which is likely to assist efforts to control access to precursor chemicals.

  • Today, ephedra is listed for its medicinal properties in the national pharmacopeias of China, Japan and Germany, as well as in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia of India. In Germany, ephedra can be dispensed by medical prescription.

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